Paquita in St Petersburg
MIKE DIXON considers Yuri Smkalov's new staging in St Petersburg
As Paquita, Anastasia Kolegova makes her first entrance in a fetching orange skirt and black bodice. She is an assured performer with beautiful legs and feet, and dances with stylistic purity. Tall and well formed, she is an experienced ballerina without the usual attenuated look of many of her compatriots. Kolegova is seductive but without projecting a strong stage personality. Xander Parish as Andrés brings a vibrant swagger to his solos, tossing his head and flourishing his wrists and rattling off chaîné turns with insouciance. This is a star performance in every sense. In Act II he and Kolegova are joined by Yekaterina Chebykina as Cristina to dance the famous pas de trois, with its echoes of Bournonville, normally performed by three smaller soloists with bodies better adapted to the intricate choreography. Kolegova and Chebykina execute their variations with aplomb and Parish explodes through the air in huge jumps, finishing each choreographic phrase with emphatic and well-shaped poses. Andrés perfectly suits his buoyant personality, boyish smile and general verve. Unfortunately, London has yet to see him in this kind of role. Read Mike Dixon's review in the May issue.
Alice and Mayerling in Munich
ALISON KENT compares two contrasting productions in Munich's Ballet Week
At the premiere, the roles of Alice and the Jack of Hearts were performed by star couple Maria Shirinkina and Vladimir Shklyarov, and although there are few occasions when they do come together during the piece, from their opening pas de deux it is clear they had captured the essence of their respective characters. How wonderful it was to see Javier Amo in such an animated part as Lewis Carroll, who later turns into the White Rabbit, his gestures and mimicry personifying the neuroses of the small burrowing mammal with its long ears and ever-present fob watch. Read Alison Kent's review in the May issue.
World Premiere: Casanova
MIKE DIXON appraises Northern Ballet's outstanding premiere
When Northern Ballet reaches its 50th Anniversary in a few years’ time, I am confident the company will be aware that Casanova is one of the landmark ballets that have signposted significant plateaux and new directions in the history of this remarkable ensemble. Kenneth Tindall is home-grown talent, insofar as he was a company member and principal dancer who made his first choreographic experiments within the company’s structure and has been successfully mentored by his director, David Nixon. His style, like Nixon’s, is fast-paced and cinematic. However, Tindall has his own unique voice and seems to draw upon a colourful hinterland of knowledge and experience to augment everything he has learned in Leeds. Read Mike Dixon's review in the April issue.
Northern Ballet - Dreda Blow and Giuliano Contadini in Kenneth Tindall's Casanova
World Premiere: Flight Pattern
AMANDA JENNINGS is moved by Crystal Pite's inaugural work for The Royal Ballet
“It’s my way of coping with the world at the moment,” Crystal Pite has said of her new work, Flight Pattern, the world premiere of which constitutes the main attraction on The Royal Ballet’s latest triple bill. Pite has, however, created much, much more than a coping mechanism for herself: she has made a work of art in the true sense of the word, a work that speaks of what it means to be a human being. It is her response to the refugee crisis of today, but it encompasses all man-made world crises that rip lives apart and create diaspora. Read Amanda Jennings' review in the April issue.
The Royal Ballet in Crystal Pite's Flight Pattern.
Photo: Emma Kauldhar by courtesy of the ROH
Made in Amsterdam
SUSAN POND enjoys two bills of new and revised pieces created by choreographers with an Amsterdam connection
Over a hundred ballet programmers, company directors, choreographers and journalists from all over the world met up in Amsterdam for a conference weekend entitled Positioning Ballet, to discuss the state of the art form and possible future paths. Ambitiously, the weekend aimed to tackle three hugely complex themes: heritage, diversity and identity. The latter theme linked up well with the performances attended by the participants – a double programme totalling eight ballets: Made in Amsterdam 1 & 2. As the title suggests, all eight works were created especially for Dutch National Ballet, by choreographers who either have their roots in the company or have very strong ties with it. What better way to showcase the company’s identity? Read Susan Pond's review in the March issue.
Dutch National Ballet - Igone de Jongh and Daniel Camargo in Ernst Meisner’s In Transit. Photo: Hans Gerritsen
Fear of the Fouetté...
MAINA GIELGUD presents sound rationale for encouraging young students to ‘go for it’ at an early age
From my experience, as a coach and teacher working regularly in a number of different countries’ ballet companies and schools, I have come to the conclusion that despite great advances in pedagogy, in some countries one aspect is often overlooked through an overcautiousness of approach. Talented children who have the drive to become classical ballet dancers should, I am sure all directors and teachers agree, be provided with training which gives them the tools enabling them to acquire the artistic and technical skills necessary to become the best dancers they can possibly be. Yet, so often when coaching students or professional dancers, even principal dancers, I come across what I call the ‘fear of the fouetté’! - of being in pointe shoes, of manèges and many of the virtuosic jumps and pirouettes in the classical vocabulary. Read Maina Gielgud’s article in the March issue.
Vaganova Academy students perforimg in the Sleeping Beauty with the Mariinsky Ballet © Emma Kauldhar