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Quick silver

Published: October 7, 2005 (Issue # 1111)



  • Mariinsky Ballet star Andrei Merkuriyev relaxing between engagements at a hotel in Nagoya. The dancer is a frequent visitor to Japan.
    Photo: Kevin Ng / For The St. Petersburg Times

NAGOYA, Japan Mariinsky dancers are very popular with Japanese audiences. So perhaps Nagoya, Japans fourth largest city, is not such an unlikely venue as it may seem to meet one of the finest male dancers of the Mariinsky Ballet first soloist Andrei Merkuriyev, who was guesting in late September with the Michiko Matsumoto Ballet, a 50-strong ballet company with a 47-year-old history in the city.

Nagoya hosted this years World Expo, whose theme is Love The Earth, which attracted over 22 million visitors in six months.

The Michiko Matsumoto Ballet performed in the Aichi Arts Center on the penultimate day of the Expo. And the company fittingly chose a programme in keeping with the Expos spirit of global cooperation. It picked a well-known Russian ballet The Fountain of Bakhchisarai created for the Mariinsky Ballet (then called Kirov Ballet) in 1934 by Rostislav Zakharov, and cast some of the leading roles for St. Petersburg dancers.

Merkuriyev was cast in the second male leading role of Vaslav, the fiance of the beautiful Polish maiden Maria, who is killed by the Khan Ghirei at the end of Act 1 when trying to protect Maria from the invading Tartars. He made his debut in this role at the Mariinsky Theater as recently as July. It seems a long way to fly just to dance in Act 1 of this four-act ballet.

But Merkuriyev wasnt the only St. Petersburg guest for these two performances. There were two other dancers from the Mussorgsky Theatre Misha Venshikov who played Marias father, and Vladimir Tsal who was in the ensemble. Another dancer was Ilya Zabotin from the Peterhof Ballet.

The St. Petersburg connection didnt end here. Maria was danced by the companys ballerina, Sayumi Yato, who is a former dancer of the Mussorgsky Ballet who returned to Japan last year. Yato and Merkuriyev were colleagues when Merkuriyev was a member of the Mussorgsky Ballet before joining the Mariinsky Theater in 2001.

Was this Merkuriyevs first guesting with this company? I asked him when we met on his free day after his performance on the previous night. Merkuriyev was in a happy and relaxed mood.

I first guested with them in 1998, and I danced Swan Lake with Sayumi. I am a frequent visitor to Japan. I was on the Mariinsky tour in 2003, and next year the Mariinsky will return to tour Japan. Merkuriyev was also in Japan with the Mussorgsky Ballet prior to joining the Mariinsky Theater.

Merkuriyev flew to Nagoya in mid-September immediately after his month-long holiday.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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