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The Forsythe saga

Published: July 29, 2005 (Issue # 1091)



  • Andrian Fadeyev dancing Forsythe.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

LONDON Still known overseas as the Kirov Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet will close its two-week season at the Royal Opera House in London on Saturday with a performance of La Bayadere led by its top stars Ulyana Loptakina and Igor Zelensky. On Monday the Mariinsky Opera, which tours London less frequently than the Mariinsky Ballet, will open its one-week season with Boris Godunov.

Loptakinas superlative performance of Swan Lake opened the Covent Garden season on a high note, while the first week of the Marriinsky Ballets London engagement ended with two performances last Sunday of a program of short works by William Forsythe. Now an almost monthly fixture in the troupes St. Petersburg repertoire, the Mariinskys program of one-act ballets by the 56-year-old American choreographer was presented to London audiences for the first time.

The Forsythe program included the Mariinskys newly acquired ballet Approximate Sonata (1996) which was premiered in this years Mariinsky Ballet Festival in St. Petersburg in March. It is a fascinating work consisting of five duets with some dialogue thrown in. Andrei Ivanov, usually cast as a jester figure, was brilliant as the lead dancer who appeared in the beginning and end of the ballet.

Yevgenia Obraztsova, his partner in the first and fifth duet, was totally ravishing in her classical purity. In the second duet, the young corps de ballet dancer Yelena Vostrotina was most eye-catching; her stunning long limbs lent an amplitude to the choreography. The colorful casual costumes designed by Stephen Galloway enhanced the ballet.

Another 1996 Forsythe work The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, which received the loudest applause last Sunday night, is Forsythes homage to George Balanchine, the greatest choreographer of the 20th century; its sunny and joyous choroegraphy evoke Balanchines masterpiece Symphony in C.

Tatiana Tkachenko was particularly impressive among the three women, and danced with amazing control. Andrian Fadeyev and Leonid Sarafanov, two of the Mariinskys most exciting male virtuosos, were dazzling in the demanding, speedy choreography.

In the afternoon, Fadeyevs role was competently danced by the the 20-year-old coryphee dancer Vladimir Shklyarov, who is surely another male star in the making. What a pity that Shklyarov was not featured more prominently in London.

The program opened with the 1985 work Steptext, set for a ballerina and three men, apparently intended by Forsythe to re-examine the tradition of the duet and the role of the ballerina. It is the least satisfying work in the program. The gimmickry house lights being turned on and off unexpectedly, and the abrupt stopping of the taped music of Bachs Chaconne was rather offputting. However, Diana Vishnyova and Daria Pavlenko were equally splendid in the two casts. Igor Kolb was trim and incisive in his rapid solo.

The closing work, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, is Forsythes most famous ballet and is danced by a number of companies worldwide including Londons own Royal Ballet.

This ballet has a split focus instead of a central focus, with more than one dance happening simultaneously. For instance, a duet can take place at the same time as a solo on another part of the stage. Dancers often face the back of the stage instead of the front. There is a constant tension and disequlibrium in this ballet, enhanced by Thom Willems music.

Forsythes choreography fits the Mariinsky Ballets supreme classical style perfectly. This Forsythe program marks another triumph for the Mariinsky Ballet on the London stage.





 

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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