St Petersburg Ballet Theatre


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Italy     2010 
Choreography that unites taste for the supernatural with taste for the exotic. And the costumes are superb.

Yesterday evening in Cremona, to a deafening ovation, the Saint Petersburg Ballet Theatre closed the 2010 season.

CREMONA It was a feast for the eyes as soon as the curtain went up. It is no coincidence that La Bayadère is one of the favourite works in the academic repertoire and, notwithstanding the convoluted intrigues of love and betrayal and its exotic, surrealistic setting, is liked by the public.

This great ballet was brought to the stage by a comparatively young company but one that has long since dedicated itself to the international arena. The Saint Petersburg Ballet Theatre is an outstanding successor to a great Russian tradition. The corps de ballet is one of the stars of the company with its impeccable technique and beautiful synchronicity.

With her icy, austere beauty, formidable, natural elegance, arms and legs that seem to go on forever, and alluring gaze, Irina Kolesnikova managed to impart to her Nikiya just the right amount of theatricality. Her performance was faultless, not only in terms of technique, but she also showed she has a great stage presence and a talent for psychological self-analysis. Simultaneously aloof and passionate, Kolesnikova managed to breathe life into her Bayadère, convincing in her determination to choose death.

The action is an interlacing of conflicting feelings of love: the Bayadère, Nikiya, loves Solor who returns the feeling. However, he is promised to Gamzatti, all of which is complicated by the fact that the Great Brahmin, the priest, is willing to break his vow of chastity, because he is enraptured by the captivating Bayadère. Add to this religious ceremonies and rituals, faithful slaves, poisons, drugs, snakes, a vision of the Kingdom of Shades, and love interweaved with death in a tense, passionate drama. The set and costumes are, as they should be, rich and expressive; rarely do we get to see such splendour. What is more, Petipa chose a surrealistic and fantastical India as the setting for the ballet. In doing so, he managed to pick out late Romantic themes as dear to yesteryears audiences as todays: a taste for the supernatural, inevitable tragedy and an all-pervading feeling of death. In fact, one of the most emotional moments in La Bayadère is The Kingdom of Shades scene, which produces a bewitching and spellbinding effect as the dancers seem to create reflections of one another. The performers are superb not only in the general scenes, but, apart from everything else, are also able to hold their own with the charismatic personality of Irina Kolesnikova. Intense applause from the audience was the reward for this outstanding company and its dazzling members: Irina Kolesnikova, Dmitry Rudachenko, Dmitry Shevtsov and Astghik Ogannesyan, who gave a profound interpretation of the ill-fated princess, Gamzatti.

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