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American Ballet Theatre

La Bayadère 2014
Ballet in Three Acts

Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Chief Executive Officer
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters: Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa, Keith Roberts
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
James Timm, Director of Marketing and Brand Management
Susan Morgan Taylor, Manager of Press and Online Media

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 29, 2014

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Conductor: Charles Barker

La Bayadère (1980): Choreography by Natalia Makarova after Marius Petipa, Music by Ludwig Minkus, specially arranged by John Lanchbery, production conceived and directed by Natalia Makarova, Scenery by Pierluigi Samaritani, Costumes designed by Theoni V. Aldredge, Lighting by Toshiro Ogawa, Production Coordinator, Dina Makaroff.

Performed by Viktoria Tereshkina as Nikiya, a temple dancer, Vladimir Shklyarov as Solor, a warrior, Grant DeLong as The Radjah Dugumanta, Isabella Boylston as Gamzatti, the Radjah’s daughter, Victor Barbee as The High Brahmin, Kelley Boyd as Aya, Gamzatti’s servant, Arron Scott as Magdaveya, Head Fakir, Skylar Brandt and Isadora Loyola as lead D’Jampe Dancers, Luciana Paris, Melanie Hamrick, and Stella Abrera as lead Shades, Zhiyao Zhang as The Bronze Idol, and the Company as The Fakirs, The Temple Dancers, Solor’s Friend, The Warriors, D’Jampe Dancers, Waltz, Pas d’Action, The Shades, The Candle Dance, Flower Girls, Warrior Attendants, Palace Slaves, and Priests.

Nikiya, an Indian temple dancer, is betrayed by the High Brahmin, who desires her to despair. The Brahmin is thwarted by Solor, a warrior, whose photograph symbolizes him as the object of desire for Gamzatti, the Radjah’s daughter. The High Brahmin tips off the Radjah, whose daughter is now affianced to Solor, that Nikiya is romantically involved with Solor. The Brahmin shows the Radjah Nikiya’s silky scarf. The Radjah and Gamzatti arrange for Nikiya to be bitten by a snake in a flower basket, as Nikiya dances at Gamzatti and Solor’s pre-wedding festivities. Nikiya refuses the Brahmin’s bottled antidote and falls lifeless, when she sees Solor and Gamzatti leave, holding hands. Solor, consumed in grief, smokes opium and envisions 27 Shades, all in ghost-like resemblance to Nikiya. A Bronze Idol dances in rapid exultation to herald the wedding. Solor, however, remembers Nikiya’s vision as he prepares to marry Gamzatti, and this vision re-appears at the ceremony, prior to a candle dance. But, soon the gods are angry, and the temple and guests are buried in the temple’s implosion. Finally, Nikiya and Solor re-unite in the afterlife. (Based on Program Notes).

There is no ballet with a more beautiful and ethereal scene than La Bayadère’s Shades scene, a Corps ensemble scene, and that’s the high point of each production, no matter the cast. So, when I was choosing from among the week’s lead casts, for Nikiya, the temple dancer, and Solor, a warrior, to whom she thinks she is betrothed, I was drawn to Viktoria Tereshkina and Vladimir Shklyarov, both of the Mariinsky Ballet. I had last seen Ms. Tereshkina on three nights in the 2008 Kirov Ballet (now Mariinsky) visit to New York, but not in this ballet. The leads in this production, so magnificently choreographed by Natalia Makarova in 1980, must have visible and credible chemistry to pull off the rapturous drama. Both Ms. Tereshkina and Mr. Shklyarov danced with individual virtuosity, but, as a romantic duo, I was sorry that I didn’t choose from familiar Company Principals. For a balletomane, choosing visiting luminaries is always a roll of the dice, as each viewer has her/his own standards. For me, it the chemistry and dual drama, one plus one should equal ten, so to speak. This duo was more of a four.

Ms. Tereshkina soars and floats, with long, sinewy arms. She’s constantly engaged with the audience, eyes gazing out. The tall, muscular Mr. Shklyarov is rough on the edges, less bravura than Solors of past performances, but he’s enthused and energized, although without speed or bounce. Yet, Mr. Shklyarov’s triple en air turns in the Shades finale drew accolades. I was disappointed in the lack of palpable chemistry, especially in the lusty, first scene outside the temple, when they meet by the Sacred Fire. In the second scene of Act I, when Nikiya meets Gamzatti, and they both realize they’re engaged to Solor, Ms. Tereshkina dances with wild gestures, a realistic interpretation of angst and betrayal, and, in the third scene of Act I, when Nikiya is poisoned by the snake in her flower basket, Ms. Tereshkina evokes theatrical pathos and searing sadness. But, in the final scene, when Solor begins to marry Gamzatti, Ms. Tereshkina, as Nikiya’s apparition, barely relates to Solor, nor does he relate to her, in connected space. As Gamzatti, the Radjah’s daughter, in contrast, Isabella Boylston is on fire, both repressed and expressed. Her Act I confrontation within the palace explodes emotionally, with her dance vividly feverish. In the palace garden and at the wedding finale, Ms. Boylston is mesmerizing, even as she guards and seizes Solor for herself.

As the Radjah, Grant DeLong carries the tension with regality and poise, a study in cruelty, as Nikiya is given the fatal flower basket. He walks with deliberate aggression and studied swagger. A key figure is always the High Brahmin, who privately yearns for Nikiya and tips off the Radjah of Gamzatti’s competition, after he’s personally rejected. Later, filled with remorse and grief, he moves with operatic horror. Victor Barbee, also Associate Artistic Director, is a wonderful High Brahmin, a master at characterization in so many story ballets. The Fakirs, who lunge and leap about the Sacred Fire, were led by Arron Scott, as Magdaveya, with spellbinding elevation and affect. Kelley Boyd was a modest Aya, Gamzatti’s servant. In the finale, the Bronze Idol is usually danced by a rising star, with a brief virtuosic display of spinning en air, dashing down, then up, the temple stairs, with skin all painted in gold. I vividly remember my first sight of Julio Bocca, in just this role, decades ago. As of yet, in demeanor and motion, he has not been equaled. Tonight, Zhiyao Zhang came close. Skylar Brandt and Isadora Loyola were the lead D’Jampe dancers, both exuding sparkle and luminous personality.

But, as I began, the Shades are the stars, and tonight they were led by Luciana Paris, Melanie Hamrick, and Stella Abrera. Twenty eight female dancers, almost all from the Corps, in pale blue-white chiffon, enter Solor’s foggy, opium-fueled dream, from rear stage right, one by one, in repetitive motion, hypnotically, each resembling his now deceased Nikiya, arms forward, head back, torso stretching, with the audience breathless. They were magnificent, as always, and received the requisite show-stopping applause. This production never looks tired, and Theoni Aldredge’s costumes are shades of aqua, orange, and gold. Pierluigi Samaritani’s scenery includes the imploding temple and falling concrete in the finale. Charles Barker kept the Minkus score memorable.

Viktoria Tereshkina
in "La Bayadère"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at