Friday, 24 August 2018

Not quite blown away but still a good show - "Swan Lake" with Rodkin and Kolesnikova

Queen's View, Perthshire
Author Peter Hermans
Licence Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 unported

St Petersburg Ballet Theatre  Swan Lake 23 Aug 2018 19:30

Three years ago, my friend Gita and I zoomed down to London for the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre's performance of La Bayadḕre at the Coliseum with Denis Rodkin and Irina Kolesnikova in the lead roles.  I was blown away as you can see from my review which I wrote exactly three years ago.  We returned yesterday full of excitement and anticipation to see the same two dancers in the lead roles in Swan Lake.   We had a great evening but it was not quite as good as the last tune we had seen them.

Technically, Rodkin danced faultlessly.  A powerful virtuoso he never fails to impress.  But he seemed a little bit subdued last night as though he was performing on autopilot.  Koleshnikova, one the other hand, rose in our estimation.  She was much more convincing as Odette-Odile than she had been as Nikiya. The dancer who almost stole the show for us was Sergei Fedorkov as the court jester.  Not only did he wow us with his fouettḗs and acrobatics.  He also raised a laugh and won our hearts with his passage across the stage with a single flower in his suit of a lady from the pas de trois.

By and large I prefer the Royal Ballet and English National Ballet's versions of the traditional Swan Lakes and David Dawson's for Scottish Ballet of the revisions to any of the Russian versions but there were bits that I liked very much indeed.   I have already mentioned Fedorkov's performance which won him Gita's accolade as man of the match.  She likes to think of ballet in sporting terms.  I enjoyed the corps - particularly the arrival of the black swans in the last act - the divertisseements (particularly the cygnets' in act 2 and the Hungarians in act 3 perhaps because I had a go at learning the choreography a few years ago) and the fidelity to the libretto and score.

Talking of the score we heard passages in acts 3 and 4 that we do not often hear in England.  The harp music is particularly lovely.   The production also had gorgeous sets and lighting.   I think I liked them even more than I liked John Macfarlane;s for Scarlett's version.  Particularly the backdrop in acts 2 and 4 which reminded me of the Queen's View of Loch Tummel and the castle in the first scene that resembled Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria.

There was a much more diverse audience than I usually see for ballet in London which can only be for the good.  I guess there were more ballet newbies than usual.   Nobody followed me when I tried to clap Rodkin as he first appeared on stage though there was a ripple of applause for Koleshnikova and the clapping for Legnani's 32 fouettḗs started far too soon and ended far too early but hey ho.  Having said that, it was a very responsive audience and they are the best kind to be part of.

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