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Leaps and bounds

International dance stars descend on the city for the annual Mariinsky Ballet Festival.

Published: March 21, 2012 (Issue # 1700)



  • Diana Vishneva will dance March 30 in an evening of one-act ballets.
    Photo: O. ZOTOV

  • Covent Gardens Johan Kobborg will perform in La Sylphide.
    Photo: JOHAN PERSSON

Dance talent from theBolshoi Theater, Londons Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, theWiener Staatsoper, Het Nationale Ballet and theBéjart Ballet Lausanne will join the Mariinsky Theaters top soloists at the 12th International Mariinsky Ballet Festival.

The festivities kick off March 22 with a revival of Roland Petits poignant 1946 masterpiece Le Jeune Homme et la Mort.

The event, launched by the Mariinskys artistic director Valery Gergiev in 2001 as a counterweight to the maestros other brainchild, the Stars of the White Nights festival that runs every year from mid-May through mid-July, assembles a pantheon of ballet stars from the worlds finest ballet companies. While operatic and symphonic programs reign at the Stars of the White Nights festival, making some balletomanes feel hard done by, the spring event is a sweet consolation.

The festival celebrates choreographic diversity, with ballets choreographed by Marius Petipa, August Bournonville, George Balanchine, Roland Petit, Maurice Béjart, Angelin Preljocaj and Alexei Ratmansky fused in its programs.

Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, which originally brought Roland Petit to European fame, was influenced by Jean Cocteau, who learned the story from the legendary impresario Sergei Diaghilev and then inspired Petit to turn the plot into a ballet. Since the ballets world premiere in 1946, the title roles have remained among the most desired in the ballet repertoire. Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov both performed the part of the young man to great acclaim.

The Mariinsky Theater first staged the ballet for Farukh Ruzimatov and Ulyana Lopatkina in the late 1990s, but the production did not last, as Petit was critical of the companys rendition of his work. This time, Lopatkina will partner Mariinsky soloist Vladimir Shklyarov.

The same evening will see a performance of George Balanchines ballet The Prodigal Son set to music by Sergei Prokofiev, and originally created for Diaghilevs Saisons Russes in1929, when it was performed by Teresa Reichlen and Daniel Ulbricht, soloists with theNew York City Ballet.

The festival offers rare opportunities to see Western ballet stars in classical Russian ballets as well as in their signature roles in works by foreign choreographers.

Covent Gardens Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg, who made their debut at the Mariinsky during the ballet festival in 2003, have since become regulars at the festival and have attended it almost every year since then.

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Thursday, Nov. 27


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Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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