St Petersburg Ballet Theatre

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Spain     2010 
The Saint Petersburg Ballet Theatre (SPBT) has been on tour since 1st November of last year and continues until 1st April next year giving 60 performances in most of the towns and cities of France, Great Britain, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. This will also include six performances in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the only town on Spanish soil – a good indication of the town’s status on the international dance map. This event, along with others in the day-to-day life of the town shows it as one of the cultural capitals of Europe. From the list of the great classical works that SPBT has in its repertoire, the theatre recently gave three performances of “Swan Lake” and will return in April with four performances of “Sleeping Beauty” (both works by Tchaikovsky). In both cases, the Prima Ballerina will be Irina Kolesnikova – a real star, who will only be appearing in the middle of the tour (Paris, London, Geneva, Las Palmas and a few other places). This is yet another indication of the respect with which the capital of the Canary Isles is held in the world of dance.

These days such long tours with all the equipment and personnel (the ballet company, ballet masters and mistresses, directors, orchestra, technicians etc.) have become almost impossible to put together, but when they do happen, they are proof of a greater unity of purpose than at first sight seems the case. In organising them Konstantin Tachkin, the theatre’s Director, has achieved perfection.

“Swan Lake” is being performed in the original choreography devised by Petipa and Ivanov without any of the later additions and subsequent revisions. It is amazing to discover that it has not become obsolete; on the contrary, it has now been in continuous performance on the stages of the world for 115 years. This superb signature style combining the two vocabularies of Petipa’s genteel language and the magical-romantic one of Ivanov, allows us to revisit the unique pleasure one gets from a true classic that stands outside of time. The modest orchestra conducted by Vadim Nikitin and the quite conventional staging serve as a back drop for the 32 strong corps de ballet and fine young soloists who have been educated in the best Saint Petersburg traditions. The lead male part is taken by Dmitry Akulinin, who, with his unheroic, underperformed variations, never manages, apart from the duet in act three, to be more than a partner to the star.

Everything was focused on Kolesnikova, The Prima Ballerina Assoluta, whose performance of the dual role of Odette-Odile on the stage of the Pérez Galdós Theatre demonstrated the science of great virtuosos. Her jetés, entrechats, fouettés and other ballet steps, and the way she combined the French and Russian dance vocabularies were invariably delightful. But the real point of her art lies not so much in her strength and power but in her ability to display them with elegance and refinement. Her “white swan” is stylised and spiritual, splendid in the ligaturas and exceptionally graceful movements of her arms and neck. Her “black swan” is all energy, power and dominance. There is no doubting the charisma generated by these polar opposites. An authentic star.

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