Review: The Bolshoi Ballet's Jewels - Balanchine style dazzling in places
The Bolshoi Ballet
HK Cultural Centre Grand Theatre
Reviewed: March 28, 7.30pm; March 29, 2.30pm
The Bolshoi Ballet completed its appearance at the Hong Kong Arts Festival with Balanchine's Jewels, a pure dance work of three short ballets with contrasting moods. Emeralds, set to music by Gabriel Fauré, is lyrical and romantic; Rubies, set to Stravinsky, jazzy and dynamic; Diamonds is a tribute to the grand manner of Victor Petipa and the Russian Imperial Ballet, with music by Tchaikovsky.
While the Bolshoi dancers' technical prowess is undeniable, performing Balanchine is all about capturing his style. Subtle, sophisticated and elusive, it's the polar opposite of the dramatic intensity and physical power of the Bolshoi and not a natural fit for its dancers. In Jewels, the focus is on the women and more female firepower was needed - it's a pity that the company didn't bring more of its leading ballerinas to Hong Kong.
Of the two casts, it was the second that shone. Anastasia Stashkevich was exquisite in Emeralds and was partnered beautifully by Klim Efimov, a promising young dancer. Kristina Kretova and Igor Tsvirko in Rubies caught the Balanchine style in dazzling fashion, with Kretova personifying the glamour and wit of this ballet.
Diamonds brought the matinee to a glittering climax. Delicate yet imperious, with gloriously expressive arms and back, Nina Kaptsova gave a commanding account of the central role. Artem Ovcharenko partnered her impeccably and danced superbly, and there was fine support from the soloists and corps de ballet.
The first cast offered only glimpses of authentic Balanchine. The strongest section was Rubies - although the style was not quite right, Stashkevich and Vyacheslav Lopatin danced with brilliant speed and lightness and Ekaterina Shipulina produced some thrilling balances and extensions.
A disappointing Diamonds, with a lacklustre Ekaterina Krysanova, was saved by the superb Semyon Chudin, whose effortless jumps, immaculate finishing and partnering were a lesson in the art of the danseur noble.