(photo credit: NINA ALOVERT)
On its first tour to Israel, this 20-year-old ballet company based in St. Petersburg performed two of the greatest 19th century classical ballets – Giselle and Swan Lake. This is an exceptionally long tour that took in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba.
The company, founded by Konstantin Tchakin, tours a lot abroad, and its growing reputation is based mainly on its veteran star ballerina Irina Kolesnikova, who has been with the company for 18 years, and unfortunately has no match in the company.
Both her leading roles in Giselle, as the young country girl who dies of broken heart after her beloved is engaged to another, and in Swan Lake as Odette (white swan) and Odile (black swan) gave Kolesnikova an opportunity to show all her bright feathers in those spectacular and complex roles.
In Giselle, she played a girl half her age, yet conveyed innocence and optimism, displaying good enough technique.
Yet her dramatic skills didn’t fully bloom until the last act, where she became one of the Willis – spirits of girls betrayed before their wedding – allowing her to portray to perfection the romantic aesthetics of this ballet.
Swan Lake, probably the most popular ballet of all time, is rich in textures and dramatic moments, and has a plot full of suspense. The leading roles of Odette/ Odile, often danced by same ballerina, are a great challenge.
Odette is all weightlessness, spirit, beauty, elegance and flowing goodness, while her darker mirror- image is strong, aggressive, fiery and ambitious. One is more of a romantic ideal to be cherished, while the other is earthy, real woman, and Kolesnikova handled both roles well, but without exceptional sparks.
Her partner in both ballets, Dmitri Akulinin, is handsome with princely manners, but hardly a match for her.
If Kolesnikova is the company’s trump card, the production’s secret power lies in the choreographic infrastructure of the beautiful work of the corps de ballet in all the large formation scenes, which also surprised with attractive renditions. Details of scenery and costumes show the ambitions of the company to win a seat with the best, yet there is a long, arduous way ahead of them.