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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

Thursday, July 31


Develop your leadership abilities during a lecture by famous Russian author and coach Radislav Gandapas. The event starts at 9 a.m. at 5 Lodeinopolskaya Ulitsa. The price for entry is 20,500 rubles ($570).


Relax and enjoy a Parisian atmosphere with some romantic and laidback jazz tunes during the Night of French Music at Lenny Jam Cafe, 63 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 250 rubles ($7).


The Womens Business Club is hosting a Beauty Brunch where participants are invited to discuss the latest news in the beauty industry and listen to lectures by professional stylists in the business.



Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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