Sunday, November 16, 2003

La Bayadere--Kirov Ballet (Playhouse Square Center)

Prestigious Kirov Ballet not up to par at the State Theatre

The Kirov Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia is truly one of the world’s class dance organizations. For more than 200 years the company has performed with excellence, no matter the political climate of the country. It is the company that probably, more than any other, conceived what we know as classical ballet. Their traditional moves, costumes and story line development is the model for what other companies do if they want to emulate the established pattern of excellence. This is the company that produced such luminaries as Rudolph Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

It is fortunate that the company has 130 dancers as they experienced a series of problems as they headed for their Cleveland performances. Injuries and dancers going with other companies resulted in our area not seeing the Kirov at its best. I saw the Saturday night performance of ‘LA BAYADERE.’ It lacked excitement. The lead dancers had no charisma. The cast, at times, seemed to have been walking through the performance. It was too bad as the productions, fanned in part by the large local Russian immigrant audience, had near full-houses.

Even with the second-team performers, anyone having viewed the productions was immediately aware of the differences between contemporary ballet and the traditional style. Exaggerated hand movements, bigger than life facial and body reactions, and posturing were seen throughout. Like classic opera, realism is not the issue, visual imagery is.

The most spectacular segment of the production took place during Act III, “The Kingdom of Shades.” A line of thirty female dancers on point dressed in white tutus, wove their way one at a time down a series of ramps. The effect was breathtaking.

Capsule judgement: The Kirov Ballet was not up to its prestigious reputation in its presentation in Cleveland