Russian State Ballet
17th December 2005
After performing classics such as Swan Lake, the time is ripe for the Russian State Ballet to introduce more courageous choreographic choices. Seeing a dance that first premiered in 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre felt like seeing history continue, and the dancers, coached by Vyatcheslav Gordeev, upheld an authentic interpretation (except for the final scene, which ends more happily than Russian choreographer Marius Petipa imagined). Otherwise, the story clearly developed with costumes, scenery and dancing as radiant as Tchaikovsky's music.
La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, Don Quixote and other full-length ballets must look gorgeous on this company. One of the best things about pure Russian technique is its ability to tell a story without extraneous gestures - here every feather rested in place and each arabesque hit a perfect height as Prince Siegfried fell in love with Odette, the Swan Queen.
Other productions try to explain the story through overwrought acting and having dancers pantomime in the corners, but in this version, every time Siegfried lifted his arm straight at the audience, we knew he was going to the lake. At points such technical skill bordered on appearing wooden in contrast to Odette's fluttering with her obedient corps.
Still, the story moved swiftly to a thundering RTÉ National Orchestra conducted by Alexander Sotnikov, and Yury Yvskubenko and Liudmila Konovalova excelled in the black swan pas de deux where her leg extensions climbed toward the ceiling, matched only by his clean, consistent jumps.
The corps de ballet stomped out rhythms in the czardas that appear ordinary in other Swan Lake productions, but here it was as if they were bringing age-old Russian ballet traditions to life. My eight-year-old companion ably described the ballet as graceful, elegant and intelligent and at times, even magnificent. Now, if she could only see more.
© The Irish Times