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Lords of the dance

Published: March 17, 2006 (Issue # 1153)



  • Ballet star Igor Zelensky, one of three male dancers honored at the Sixth International Mariinsky Ballet Festival running this week.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

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 Gogolss 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 Lacottes revival of Jules Perrot 1843 Ondine.

The event, launched by the Mariinskys artistic director Valery Gergiev in 2001 as a counterweight to Gergievs other brainchild, the Stars of the White Nights festival which runs each June, assembles a pantheon of ballet stars from Londons Covent Garden, the Opera de Paris, the New York City Ballet, the Bavarian State Ballet and Moscows 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 weeks sumptuous ballet fiesta nobody has cause for complaint.

During last years 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 companys brightest dancers and its corps de ballet. In 2005, the companys three principal ballerinas Diana Vishnyova, Daria Pavlenko and Ulyana Lopatkina took center stage to be honored in this way.

At this years 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 Balanchines Rubies, Petits Le Jeune Homme et La Mort and Forsythes In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.

Zelensky opted for Balanchines 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 companys biggest recent loss, returns to take part in the festival by partnering Zelensky in Balanchines 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.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of Repulsion at 7 p.m. and Rosemarys Baby at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy The Tenant, the cult comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers and Cul-de-sac among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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