Ballet Review: Russian National Ballet’s “The Sleeping Beauty”
Read More: Aidos Zakan, Ballet, Ballet Review, Ekatarina Pankovskaya, Maria Sokolnikova, Modlin Center for the Arts, Russian National Ballet, Samat Abdrakhmaleva, Sleeping Beauty, University of Richmond
Last night the Russian National Ballet opened a two-night run of “The Sleeping Beauty” at University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts. The first successful ballet composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, this fairy tale piece choreographed by Marius Petipa features monsters, romance, spells and one magical kiss.
The performance opens with the King Flourestan and the Queen (played by Dmitry Romanov and Natalia Ivanova, respectively) hosting a celebration for the birth of their daughter, Princess Aurora.
The royal court, played by various members of the Corps de Ballet, showcased modest choreography coupled with elaborate dress. The combination of Lev Solodovnikov’s sets and Simon Virsaladze’s costume design rendered the ideal backdrop, with the exception of one corp member’s very distracting and ill-fitting dress. This female dancer’s costume resembled a last minute mistake, with her deep burgundy skirt barely hanging on and a bodice that appeared ten times her size.
Aside from the out-of-place bodice blunder, the prologue provided all the makings of a royal gala. The Fairy of Lilac, portrayed by Ekaterina Egorova, arrives with gifts for the young princess, bringing the Fairy of Boldness (Olga Gudkova), Fairy of Generosity (Maria Klueva), Fairy of Carelessness (Ekaterina Pankovskaya), and Fairy Canary (Noritake Eriko) in tow. Eriko’s petite allegro solo during the dance of the fairies was energetic and a standout.
The evil Fairy Carabosse appears, played by male soloist Evgeny Rudakov, angry she was excluded from the guest list and places a curse on the baby princess. Rudakov’s portrayal of Carabosse demonstrated vehemence in his clear story interpretations, and flair from his overall animated character, down to the detailed, transforming make-up choices.
We are re-introduced to Aurora, played by Maria Sokolnikova, on her sixteenth birthday in the palace. Solkolnikova showcased precise technique in extension and pirouettes, but struggled in the rose dance with her four suitors. Her uncertainty and loss of control shortened what would have been a shining moment… Aurora’s iconic long balance in attitude derriere.
The entrance of Aidos Zakan as Prince Desire in Act II was a show-stopping sensation. In a female-dominated discipline, Zakan’s strong technique as a male lead was throroughly refreshing. With gravity-defying tour jetés and grand jetés, he floated above the stage with little effort, especially during his frequent triple tour en l’airs.
Ekatarina Pankovskaya and Samat Abdrakhmaleva’s Bluebird pas de deux in Act III was brilliantly executed and easily my favorite part of the whole ballet. With difficult lifts and strenuous partnering, Pankovskaya and Abdrakhmaleva achieved a fluid performance, maintaining musicality while playing with long, beautiful balances and multiple sets of at least six continuous partnered pirouettes.
The final two acts managed to exceed the first on all facets of grandeur, performance level and excitement. The wedding scene was humorous and serene, while the lighting of the grand finale’s mazurka dance left one feeling as if the sparkling air could spontaneously transport us all to this land of magical monsters, fairies and beauty.
If you ever find this company touring or performing near you, take the opportunity to be a part of the audience. You might just walk away craving more of the magic.
The Russian National Ballet Theatre, directed by Elena Radchenko, was founded in Moscow in the late 1980’s and features more than 50 dancers, trained in both contemporary and classical Russian Ballet.
The Modlin Center for the Arts, which opened in 1996, features state-of-the-art performance venues and presents more than 40 world-class performing arts events each year.
A recent NYC transplant, I'm a writer, dancer, foodie, clothing lover, and sriracha supporter. Having lived in RVA for seven years, I completely adore the River City, and still spend as many days as I can rock-laying on the James. A self proclaimed "vintage voyeur," I think the arts scene of any city can reveal so much... not only about our past, but also our modern day, and where we need to go from here.
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