I attended the Ruzimatov gala on Tuesday at the Maly Theatre. It was a fantastic evening, and although ticket prices, by Russian standards, were high, the theatre was packed (mostly with Russian balletomanes, I was glad to note, rather than by tourists in Petersburg for the White Nights!).
The performance, I think, was organised by Ruzimatov himself. It certainly wasn’t a “tribute” evening of the type that the Mariinsky often organises to honour its stars.
The first half of the evening was a short ballet to music by Purcell called, in Russian, Pavana Mavra (I would love to know its correct English name, and also the title of the Purcell piece, if anyone could oblige??). Ruzimatov was Mavr and Nikita Dolgushin the "friend" (rather bravely, it has to be said, given his age, although his performance was commendable). This was the first time I had seen this ballet and I found it moving, particularly in Ruzimatov’s elegant interpretation.
The second half kicked off with the Sleeping Beauty pas de deux, danced by Natalia Sologub and Andrian Fadeyev. I usually like this pair, but it all felt rather strained and formal on Tuesday night, and in fact someone remarked on the Mariinsky’s forum page the next day that they looked like “school children who hadn’t woken up yet”, which was a fairly apt description. Could it have been the fact that there was no orchestra and the tape recording was very tinny? Not sure.
Next up was the absolute highlight of the evening – Ruzimatov and Vishneva in Bakhti (spelling? I only have the Russian programme to go by?), an Indian Bejart ballet. It was absolutely superb. Ruzimatov is of course always sensational in anything with a remotely Eastern feel, but until Tuesday I hadn’t realised Vishneva’s aptitude for this style of dance. It is always very special whenever these two dance together, but this beat any previous performance I have seen with this pair. Bravo, Farukh and Diana!
A very middling pas de deux from Corsaire followed, danced by Perren and Sivakov (not Mariinsky dancers – maybe from the Maly?), then a very short, rather uninspired Rachmaninov piece by Kulik and Kim.
Then came a very exciting Tchaikovsky pas de deux (Balanchine) from Kucheruk and Mikhalev (both from the Maly, I gather). Full of energy, artistic. Lovely to watch.
Ruzimatov appeared again for the final number – Mahler’s Adagietto. Again, a shame this rousing piece of music was being piped through tiny speakers, but despite the poor quality of the music, it was impossible to take one’s eyes off Ruzimatov. Superb.
Re. Ruzimatov’s possible retirement – I don’t think it’s likely in the foreseeable future. A Petersburg newspaper article quotes him this week as saying “I did have my bad spells when I felt like leaving, but that’s in the past. I’m happy with what I’m doing”. He’s currently working on an acting role in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot (playing at the Zazerkalye Theatre in Petersburg on June 17 for anyone who’s likely to be here then).
I was also lucky enough to attend the Vaganova Academy graduation performance on Friday morning (together with Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands!). Some names to watch out for in future years: Viktoria Tereshkina (technically very adroit, bit more work needed on the artistic side?), Elena Evseeva, Ketevan Papava, Aleksandr Neff. You heard it here first!