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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

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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