Monday, 8 April 2013

Mikhailovsky Ballet

Without Words/ Nunc Dimittis/ Prelude, Mikhailovsky Ballet, London Coliseum - reviewed on 7th April
Natalia Osipove and Ivan Vasiliev
Photo: The Mikhailovsky Theatre

The Mikhailovsky Ballet have made a remarkable impression on London audiences over the last two weeks. During their season at the Coliseum, they have performed four different full-length ballets and one triple bill, and while the choreography hasn’t always been of the highest quality, the company’s dancers have unceasingly excelled.
 
With worldwide superstars Natalia Osipova (whose brilliance I have blogged about before) and Ivan Vasiliev at the helm, the Mikhailosky Ballet can guarantee ticket sales. The couple, together known as ‘Osiliev’ (and pictured right in Don Quixote), are like fireworks in the way that they leap and spin with seemingly boundless energy. When Osiliev are onstage, the rest of the company fades into insignificance.
 
It is therefore only when this couple take the day off that the Mikhailovsky can demonstrate the strength of their lower-ranking dancers. In yesterday afternoon’s triple bill, they seemed so confident amidst the strikingly contemporary vocabulary that it was easy to forget that the company is predominantly a classical one.
 
The three works (Without Words, Nunc Dimittis and Prelude) were by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato, who is also the Mikhailovsky Ballet’s artistic director. Whilst his movement choices are often clichéd, they do give company dancers the chance to shine away from Osiliev’s enormous shadow.
 
All three ballets had spectacular scores (by a variety of notable composers: Schubert, Pärt, Azagra, Britten, Beethoven and Handel) and it is perhaps because of this that choreography felt lacking in punch. The music was exquisite, where movement was merely ‘nice’. In Prelude, there are some innovative moments and Ekaterina Borchenko sparkled particularly, but choreography was cluttered with incohesive images and unnecessary scene changes. Choreography was similarly cluttered in both Without Words and Nunc Dimitti, but there is little need to dwell on the weaknesses of the works.
 
What is important is that the Mikhailovksy’s season at the Coliseum has been but a brief taster into the company’s power. Osiliev’s development will undoubtedly be awaited with bated breath, but I shall also be keen to see in which direction the rest of the company proceeds.
Leonid Sarafanov in Prelude
Photo: The Mikhailovsky Theatre

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