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Kirov Ballet: "Chopiniana", "Le Spectre de la Rose", "The Dying Swan", "Études"
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Kirov Ballet: "Chopiniana", "Le Spectre de la Rose", "The Dying Swan", "Études"

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Ardani Artists Management Presents:
Kirov Ballet
And Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre
Valery Gergiev, Artistic & General Director
Mikhail Agrest, Conductor
City Center
Media: Helene Davis Public Relations

Program Three:
Chopiniana, Le Spectre de la Rose
The Dying Swan, Études

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 12, 2008


Chopiniana: Music by Frederic Chopin (Piano suite orchestrated by Alexander Glazunov and Maurice Keller), Scenario by Michel Fokine, Choreography by Michel Fokine, Revised version by Agrippina Vaganova, Set design based on original sketches by Orest Allegri.

Le Spectre de la Rose: Music by Carl Maria von Weber (“Invitation to the Dance” orchestrated by Hector Berlioz), Concept by Jean-Louis Vaudoyer, Based on the poem by Theophile Gautier, Scenario by Michel Fokine, Choreography by Michel Fokine, Reconstruction by Isabelle Fokine, Costume design after original designs by Leon Bakst.

The Dying Swan: Music by Camille Saint-Saens (from “The Carnival des animaux” Suite), Choreography by Michel Fokine.

Études: Music by Karl Czerny, Arranged by Knudage Riisager, Choreography by Harold Lander, Staging by Josette Amiel, Lighting concept by Josette Amiel, Lighting design realized by Vladimir Lukin.

There is no program more illustrative of Mariinsky Theatre history than tonight’s Fokine homage. The first two Acts of the program included three of Fokine’s iconic ballets, Chopiniana, Le Spectre de la Rose, and The Dying Swan, the ballet most associated with Anna Pavlova, on whom Fokine choreographed this 1907 work. In fact, I recently watched a documentary stating that Pavlova was buried with her costume from The Dying Swan. Tonight’s Kirov dancers were supremely elegant in Chopiniana, with orchestrations of Chopin’s Mazurka (Op. 67, No. 3), Prelude (Op. 27, No. 7), and Valses (Op. 64, No. 2 and Op. 70, No. 1). Although this is a full female corps ballet, one could observe unique personalities, and the sumptuous, dreamy mood of the sole male poet, tonight Igor Kolb, as he stands alone among dozens of sylphs (the ballet is also called Les Sylphides), epitomizes the inherent sensuality and perfumed essence of this 1908 ballet. Tonight, Ekaterina Osmolkina danced the Mazurka and first Valse, Daria Vasnetsova danced the Prelude, and Yana Selia danced the second Valse. The other-worldliness was convincing, with the forest glen backdrop (evocative of Corot’s landscapes) and the flower-like imagery of the ensembles, in full-length gauzy costumes. One might think of Fragonard’s or Boucher’s paintings to conjure the sprites, leaping through space and bending down, all quiet pulsation.

Le Spectre de la Rose brought Yana Selina (as the woman at home after the ball, with her single rose and reveries) and Anton Korsakov (as the Rose incarnated as elusive lover) to the stage. Mr. Korsakov leapt through the window with abandon, led his partner (with eyes closed, as sleeping) about her living room, and exuberantly used the full space of the City Center stage for his youthful luster. Mr. Kolb was perfectly suited for this role, exuding drama and the requisite self-absorption. Ms. Selina was restrained, yet persuasive. Uliana Lopatkina danced The Dying Swan, and her wing-like arms fluttered delicately. This is not a dance about a sad swan. This is a dance about death, according to documentaries about Fokine. Anna Pavlova held her Dying Swan costume in her arms as she died of pneumonia. Ms. Lopatkina exuded that quality of life expiring with feathery softness and intense theatricality.

Harold Lander’s 1948 Études was new to me and quite charismatic. It’s a study of the transformation of the dance and the dancer, from the practice positions at the barre to the full costumed stage presentation. One dancer opens the ballet in stark white, after full darkness, and then the lighting shifts to members of the corps practicing in synchronized fashion. Soon male dancers appear, and costumes shift to a black white concept. The soloists become more and more virtuosic, and two male soloists (Leonid Sarafanov and Andrian Fadeev) partner one female soloist (Victoria Tereshkina), with males and female showing off with numerous fouettés. Finally, the company leaps across the stage in dim lighting, one dancer after the other, across and between each other in bravura, rapid leaps. The stage is filled with aerodynamic energy, and the audience loved it all. Kudos to Fokine, and kudos to Lander, Josette Amiel (original lighting concept), and Vladimir Lukin (lighting realization).

The Kirov Ballet in "Chopiniana"
Courtesy of Mariinsky Theatre

Uliana Lopatkina in "The Dying Swan"
Courtesy of Mariinsky Theatre

The Kirov Ballet in "Études"
Courtesy of Mariinsky Theatre

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