2012-10-19 18:00

Swan Lake in the New World

Between 10 and 14 October 2012 the Mariinsky Ballet gave six performances of Swan Lake at the Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley during its major American tour.

The Mariinsky Theatre’s Swan Lake at the Zellerbach Hall (Berkeley) has proved a major success.

Lauren Gallagher, columnist for The Examiner, wrote that “Russians just do some things best – like synchronizing swans... ... When the swans hit the stage en masse, arms, arabesques and tilted heads move together like a well-oiled machine, creating a powerful spectacle.
(Ekaterina Kondaurova’s) musicality (as Odette-Odile) was almost supernatural, her body responding to Tchaikovsky’s score with heartfelt precision, her back arching into a seemingly infinite curve.”

The critic also commented separately on the Mariinsky Orchestra: “Though Swan Lake would benefit from being staged in a larger space, the Mariinsky Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky's iconic score to rousing, subliminal heights made up for Zellerbach’s cramped atmosphere.”

Ann Murphy, dance critic for Mercury News, praised the Mariinsky Theatre’s corps de ballet in her article: “What the impeccable symmetry of white tutu-clad swans moving in heart-stopping alignment can give us is the imprisoned heart, smouldering passion, and looming heartbreak. This tension between orderly society and the obedient but disordered heart is the secret to Swan’s iconic power, and no contemporary American ballet company can match the flock like unison that the Mariinsky dancers achieve.” 

Allan Ulrich, dance correspondent of the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote on 11 October of his impressions of the performance and the cast: “But this was more than a matter of rote precision: these 24 young women posing and constantly reforming in striking patterns embodied the ideal that has set the Mariinsky apart from other companies... That sharpness of attack dominates the production. It is there in the danse des coupes at Siegfried’s birthday, in the national diversions in Act 3 and in the intricate mix of black and white swans in the finale...
That’s the upside of a luminous dance tradition. One can question many details in this Swan Lake production, but even the disputable elements are dispatched with consummate verve and confidence.
Wednesday, Ekaterina Kondaurova introduced herself to Bay Area balletomanes. Kondaurova’s magnificent extension, moulded instep and port de bras conspired to give us an almost heroic Odette, defiant, yet free of sentimentality. Her fierce Odile adds up to a series of non-stop thrills, down to the iconic fouetté sequence.
Siegfried, Danila Korsuntsev, is, I am informed, 38, but he looks half the age, interprets the character as a sexual naif, hoists Kondaurova with one hand and leaps with the best of them.” 

The Mariinsky Ballet’s American tour continues in Washington, where from 16 to 21 October the Kennedy Center will host seven performances of Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella with choreography by Alexei Ratmansky.


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