Performing Arts: Dance
  GISELLE--MIKHAILOVSKY BALLET: 11/11 & 12Matinee
November 14, 2014
A few years ago, amidst a spurt of press, ABT principal David Halberg joined the Bolshoi as a guest artist. Part of the allure was the opportunity to partner the remarkable ballerina, Natalia Osipova. But soon after his arrival, Osipova was poached by the wealthy owner/manager (Vladimir Kekman) of the Mikhailovsky Ballet. Determined to compete with the world class Mariinsky and Bolshoi Ballet, Mikahilovsky lured dancers from the ranks of the major troupes. The question remains, can this company compete on a level with its peers.

In a three-week season, the Mikhailovsky Ballet, directed by Mikhail Messerer, intends to answer that question and establish its mark. The first program features the 19th century tragedy Giselle. A village girl falls in love with a Count, who hides his true identity, only to learn the man who pledged undying love is betrothed. Already weakened by a bad heart, Giselle goes mad and dies.

Giselle passes into the realm of the wilis, jilted women who transform into ethereal creatures and alight in the darkness of night. Led by the steely Myrta, any man who enters their haunted forest is doomed to dance himself to death.

In the two casts that appeared opening night and the following matinee, Natalia Osipova and Anastasia Soboleva played Gieselle. Two very different interpretations emerged. Clearly in control from beginning to end, Osipova described a 21st century Giselle. After her robust death, Ossipova's effervescent white tulle form whirls in a cyclone of turns and jumps that compete with her suitor. However, Ms. Osipova shows effort in her expansive leaps, bounding jumps and flashy turns, not a shadowy etherealness.

Ms. Soboleva appeared a more natural Giselle. Easily pleased by her suitor, a technically fine Victor Lebedev, they sparked a chemistry missing in the opening night program. Both Sobleva and Lebedev share an effortless technique and marvelous spines that arch fluidly over lunges and airborne arabesques. Joining Osipova, Leonid Sarafanov, looking a bit like Peter Pan, is youthful and full of mischievous fun. Technically his form is clear and pliant. However, the two never matched energies or hearts.

Staged by staged by the renowned dancer, Nikita Dolgushin, this production is edited and more focused, still the company never really glistens. There’s a good deal of talent being nurtured in the ranks, and after a few more performances, this range will be revealed. All four lead dancers are worth catching in other productions during the run at the David H. Kock Theater.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis




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