Company: Igor Zelensky and Stars of International Ballet
What: Gala mixed bill of pas de deux
Where: Salford, The Lowry
When: 23 August 2000
One of the worlds best dancers descends on the Lowry and puts on a good show.... a shame that he is not so well known outside of ballet circles.
Igor Zelensky, Kirov Principal and wandering guest here, there and everywhere it seems, is perhaps best known in the UK for partnering Darcey Bussell on the odd big night. Which is a bit unfair on our part because he is thought to be one of the best dancers in the world - particularly in the classic repertoire.
Zelensky is a switched-on chap and occasionally brings a small group of principal-level dancers together for a few performances featuring short works and famous pdd. This was the first time he has produced anything in the UK and something of a coup for the Lowry to present it.
A note on the Lowry
This was a second visit to the Lowry and while there have been a number of grumbles about sight-lines in the stalls, and not being able to see dancers' feet, this time I was up in the Circle which proved superb. Normally I hate being so far away, but the Circle in the Lowry is much nearer the stage than in many theatres. So you get the classic elevated view of the stage and can see the patterns etc. but lose little on the intimacy front. It's well worth moving up...
Nine pieces in all, for the most part famous pdd from the likes of Le Corsaire, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty etc. Perhaps the most interesting pieces were Apollo and Finale - the final piece of the evening and choreographed by the man himself.
Sets and Costumes
Plain backcloths territory but with pukka costumes. This appeared to be the NYCB Apollo (where Zelensky danced a few years ago) rather than the RB version we know with stairs and un-swaddling etc.
With excellent dancers it's hard to go wrong with Petipa, Balanchine, Fokine etc. The Zelensky piece (Finale) was likable and rather well judged I thought. While traditional Japanese percussion thundered away (in a vaguely Rock and Roll manner) all the dancers came in quick and fast to do short party pieces in various combinations. In its way it was quite breathtaking and ended with everybody wanting a bit more. But Zelensky should not give up his day job!
Nights like this are about dancers and Zelensky had some pretty fine ones' if not those originally mentioned in billing. Vishneva and Ruzimatov were not there, Agnes Oaks was injured, as was Maya Dumchenko, who was replaced by Veronika Ivanova. As you'd expect the company was based on Kirov dancers for the most part - staying on after their successful season(s) at the Royal Opera House.
For the record the dancer roster was Zelensky, Makhalina, Batalov, Edur, Fadeyev, Golub, Tarassova and Ivanova. Four boys and four girls in some hard and spectacular party pieces gives none of them an easy night.
Apollo was the most substantial piece of the evening - easy to see why given Zelensky's tall, blond and rugged looks. Makhalina, Golub and Tarassova were his muses and a powerful, well rehearsed, lot they were too. One suspects that a fair proportion of the audience would not have seen it before and it made a good calling card for Balanchine and neo classical style - oh that the next piece of Balanchine they see elsewhere is as well executed.
In Rubies there was another piece of Balanchine to be seen - danced by Fadeyev and Golub. He looks like a slightly smaller Zelensky and is very quick. Together they zipped through what is a visually stunning piece. Golub seems to be a member of the Kirov corps and gets not a mention in the recent Hochhauser season programme - somebody to watch for I think.
It's almost getting boring to say it, but yet again Tomas Edur delivered the goods - what a stunning prince and principal he is. That he (and Agnes Oaks his wife) are regularly to be seen all over the country with English National Ballet (ENB) is just amazing I think.
Does it work?
A good night that capitalises on the technical / starry prowess of those involved. Shame the music was all recorded and just wish it went on longer than 09:30