Performing Arts: Dance
November 20, 2014
Three Centuries of Russian Ballet, danced by the Mikhailovsky Ballet, provided a welcome respite from the bitter cold at the Koch Theater Wednesday evening. Opening with Le Halte De Cavalerie, a revival of rare choreography by Marius Petipa, was either charming and delightful or dated and provincial. It was definitely a showcase for the supple and skilled Leonid Sarafanov. His partner Anastasia Soboleva had difficulties, especially in the balances and promenades, but everyone committed to the absurd nature of the piece and made it fun.

The most interesting piece on the program was Class Concert, with choreography by Asaf Messerer, a distinguished dancer, ballet master, and choreographer from the Moscow Ballet School and Bolshoi Theater. This piece, from 1962, exhibits the classical training that one expects and relishes from Russian ballet. It is a staged class with company members doing the most advanced work, supplemented here by students from local American school such as the Vaganova Ballet Academy, Ellison Ballet, Brighton Ballet, Gesley Kirkland Academy and Greenwich Ballet. It was exciting, polished and energetic dancing meant to show off both the bravura moves and the delicate artistry. Natalia Osipova, with her skirt artfully tucked up, took a spectacular fall, yet virtually bounced back up right into her pirouettes.

The program closed with resident choreographer and former artistic director Nacho Duato's Prelude, (2011). It is a meeting of classical and contemporary dance and while the movement was compelling, the decor and lighting, by Alla Marusina and Brad Fields, was a spectacular addition. From glittering wings that created a canopy of trees, to a chandelier, to a door with glass, each element provided contrast to the simple yet dramatic choreography. A favorite moment was when the dancers held up a scenic back drop of a woodland clearing only to disappear under it when they let go.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

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