A Russian Triple Bill
Regent Theatre, The Octagon, Dunedin
24/11/2018 - 24/11/2018
Following their sell-out performances of A Festival of Russian Ballet, the Imperial Russian Ballet Company return to New Zealand with A Russian Triple Bill. This is the first time that the company have brought this stunning programme to New Zealand & Australia.
Sleeping Beauty (Act III)
A holiday is declared for the wedding of Princess Aurora & Prince Desire. This is a joyous and happy ballet which will be loved by all.
A short ballet in one act about a young man who while walking at night encounters a group of sylphs or magical women.
Carmen is a flirtatious and seductive gypsy woman whose love affairs with two men ends in tragedy.
“Bold, brave Russians … In a night that overflows with all things ballet, you can’t help be swept up by the sheer panache of the Imperial Russian Ballet Company dancers.” – The West Australian
Tickets available from TicketDirect or the Regent Theatre.
Concession $82.00 (Student with ID, Senior 65+, Group 10+, VIP Club – only available from outlets or by phone)
Child (0 to 18) $62.00
Concession $72.00 (Student with ID, Senior 65+, Group 10+, VIP Club) – only available from outlets or by phone
Child (0 to 18) $52.00
Carmen and Les Sylphides a pleasure to watch
Review by Adrienne Molloy 26th Nov 2018
The joyful wedding from act 3 of A Sleeping Beauty opens the 2018 triple bill sampler programme presented by the Imperial Russian Theatre Ballet Company on their annual return to New Zealand. Traditionally a grand occasion, the wedding involves a series of short, showy vignettes, fairy tale characters, and a number of local children as guest dancers.
The high point is the charismatic performance of the male principal soloist, Nariman Bekzhanov, which lifts the spirits of the cast, and the overall quality of the performance. He soars through the air and shows great talent with his footwork. His support of the dancers is impeccable.
The truly joyous children never put a foot out of step, bring charm to the stage and warm the audience. The White Pussycat and Puss in Boots provide light-hearted moments. Using delicate and witty hand movements representing their feline characters, the Cats and other characters were appreciated by the audience.
The showy vignettes, however, are delivered with precision but not much warmth or charm, and the wedding dances, designed to showcase the talents of the individual dancers, fall short of my expectations and feel stale and tired. The immobility of the watching King and Queen throughout the performance bring an incongruously solemn air in contrast to the theme of the Act, and the somewhat dated costumes and minimal stage set unfortunately do not enhance the performance. When the curtain falls on this Act, I feelrelieved.
By contrast Carmen, Act III is a delight. The simple lighting shows a black and red mask, to represent the bull, and high-backed ladder chairs add effective dramatic atmosphere. Bizet’s music is a familiar pleasure. The costumes are excellent and Carmen’s short black dress suits her flirtatious character. The Cigarette girls aere, surprisingly wittily, dressed in nicotine colours and are excellent partners to the bullfighters who form the rest of the corps de ballet.
The exquisite, bold and sexy Carmen is danced by an athletic and graceful Anna Pashkova, a superb foil to the intensity of the correct and soldierly Don José, whose increasing love is delivered with great emotional connectedness. When Carmen blows him a kiss and leaves him, the audience can almost touch his passion and yearning for her.
By contrast, the Torero shows his carefree and physical attachment to Carmen and she flies from one to the other. All three performances are a master class of precise footwork, graceful jetés and beautiful lifts, and José and Carmen’s consummation of their passion is performed with a realistic sensuality.
As the tragedy unfolds, Fate makes her appearance and the dramatic performance lifts another notch. Fate’s exquisite body line and elegance contrast powerfully with her implacable facial control; the simple black and white makeup is very effective against the black and red backdrop and the simple dramatic costumes of the other dancers.
She too is drawn into the emotional entanglement of the dancers as she dances between the three lovers – this may be where the phrase “dancing with Death” originated.
Once Carmen is released from the magistrate’s jail, she flies from one to the other of the male dancers. She spurns Don José and flirts with the Torero, then returns to Don José’s arms. As Fate engages with the two men, and with Carmen in a beautifully danced pas de deux, so finally Don Jose’s jealous rage spills over and he kills Carmen. Her death is beautifully drawn as she slumps into his arms, all the while en pointe, and his grief as the curtain closes leaves me moved.
The Final Act of the Triple Bill is Les Sylphides, a ballet in its entirety. Its old-fashioned ‘ballet-ness’ and lack of story requires it to hold the audience in other ways. Once again Nariman Bekzhanov shows his mastery of the ballet form as the melancholy poet entering a magical garden. As the only male dancer, he engages fully with the Sylphs, joining in their dance and entering their magical world. The Sylphs, simply dressed in white tulle, are beautiful and strange. They use their fine, graceful arms to demonstrate a light fairy wind blowing and their footwork is a delight to watch.
Their performance is a lovely way to end the evening. I would have been quite happy for the show to have been a Russian Double bill, and while some of the first Act felt very uninspired, Carmen and Les Sylphides were engaging, charming and a pleasure to watch
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