Lords of the dance
Published: March 17, 2006 (Issue # 1153)
A reconstruction of a 19th-century French classic, a new cutting-edge piece set to music of Dmitry Shostakovich with the plot inspired by Nikolai Gogols’s “The Overcoat” and a delicious cocktail of the choreography of Marius Petipa, George Balanchine and William Forsythe are at the heart of the Sixth International Mariinsky Ballet Festival which opened Thursday with Pierre Lacotte’s revival of Jules Perrot 1843 “Ondine.”
The event, launched by the Mariinsky’s artistic director Valery Gergiev in 2001 as a counterweight to Gergiev’s other brainchild, the “Stars of the White Nights” festival which runs each June, assembles a pantheon of ballet stars from London’s Covent Garden, the Opera de Paris, the New York City Ballet, the Bavarian State Ballet and Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater. The summer event, “Stars of the White Nights” emphasises opera and symphonic concerts, and balletomanes sometimes feel hard done by. But with this week’s sumptuous ballet fiesta nobody has cause for complaint.
During last year’s event, the Mariinsky restored the lost tradition of tribute evenings to its brightest ballet stars.
Before the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the Imperial Ballet organized annual tribute performances to the company’s brightest dancers and its corps de ballet. In 2005, the company’s three principal ballerinas — Diana Vishnyova, Daria Pavlenko and Ulyana Lopatkina — took center stage to be honored in this way.
At this year’s festival, all eyes will be on male principal dancers: Igor Zelensky and Farukh Ruzimatov will be celebrated on Thursday and Friday (March 24) respectively. Perhaps due to the lack of a third obvious Mariinsky star, keeping them a company will be Bolshoi Theater principal Nikolai Tsiskaridze who occasionally comes from Moscow to guest at the Mariinsky. Tsiskaridze will be honoured on Wednesday.
Tsiskaridze will appear in Balanchine’s “Rubies,” Petit’s “Le Jeune Homme et La Mort” and Forsythe’s “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.”
Zelensky opted for Balanchine’s “Apollo” and “Diamonds” as well as a modern work to be announced later. The New York City Ballet ballerina Maria Kowroski will partner Zelensky in “Apollo.”
Svetlana Zakharova, who after parting ways with the Mariinsky was the company’s biggest recent loss, returns to take part in the festival by partnering Zelensky in Balanchine’s “Diamonds” on Thursday.
After the long-limbed Mariinsky principal dancer left to join the troupe of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, her schedule has been too tight to allow for more than two appearances in St. Petersburg each season.Pages:  [2 ]