Dance Review: Vivacious vignettes

The Russian public came out in droves to enjoy the work of their beloved choreographer compatriot, Valery Panov.

On Tuesday night, the audience at the Jerusalem Theater was treated to a panoply of movement and music in the form of Panovaria, created by former Kirov Ballet star and renowned refusenik Valery Panov. The Russian public came out in droves to enjoy the work of their beloved choreographer compatriot. The artistic director of the Panov Ballet Theater of Israel, which he established in Ashdod seven years ago, Panov proudly presented 11 selections from his best and most eclectic ballets. A well-balanced blend of classical, modern and ultramodern pieces, the program ranged from Swan Lake, The Arabian Nights and Le Corsair to dances set to the music of Dave Brubeck, Jacques Brel and Japanese love songs. In an innovative departure from most dance performances, in the third piece, called "Intermezzo," Panov himself came on stage while two dancers warmed up at the ballet bar. Addressing the audience in both Russian and English, the 69-year-old master proceeded to put the ballerinas through their paces while explaining to the full house the importance of doing stretches to prepare for the arduous pieces that were to come. "In fact," he quipped to the audience, "it is good for you to do stretches, too." At times he forgot to switch into English. However, for the few non-Russian speakers among us, nothing was lost in translation, as the dancers' prowess spoke for itself. And speaking of prowess, Panov's principal dancer, Vladimir Kuklachov, was simply riveting. Featured in five of the pieces, Kuklachov commanded the stage with his dynamic presence. Every stride, leap, spin and mid-air somersault was power-packed with energy and artistry. Another outstanding performance was rendered by Diana Frumson. She soloed in the evocative dance "The Circle of Life" and was part of the duo of "The Idiot," based on the novel by Dostoyevsky. Lithe and lissome, the blonde ballerina was beautiful to watch. Overall, the evening was extremely entertaining. The costumes were attractive and colorful; the (taped) music was unusually loud but powerful; and the dances ranged in tenor from poignant and passionate to warm and whimsical, tinged with humor and theatrics. In the finale, the entire entourage energized the stage in a rousing modern number. When Kuklachov added his special touch and performed a relentless kazatzke, the audience broke out into cheers, yelling "Bravo!" Audience members flung roses onto the stage as the curtain closed and Kuklachov kazatzked out of sight.