Jewels, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House | Dance reviews, news & interviews
Jewels, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House
Sergei Filin takes a bow as his company dips a pointe shoe into the 20th century
The Bolshoi’s summer season in London has so far been straight-down-the-line trad: Swan Lake as an opener, Bayadère, Sleeping Beauty. Now, however, with Balanchine’s Jewels, they’ve at least dipped a pointe shoe into the 20th century, if rather cautiously.
Jewels is, to be blunt, a beast of a ballet to get right – or, to change metaphor, it is a will o’ the wisp, ambiguous in style, constantly shape-shifting before our eyes. To get to grips with it, from either side of the footlights, is not simple, and neither the company (who acquired this work only last year) nor the audience was entirely certain of its responses.
It is a three-act abstract ballet, and a three-act history of dance lesson. Each movement, represented by a jewel, encapsulates a dance style and period. Emeralds, to extracts from Fauré’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Shylock, represents the Romantic movement; Rubies, to Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, neo-classicism; and Diamonds to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 3 (minus the first movement) the high classical style.
Emeralds is the most difficult of the three sections, a gossamer construct of music and mood that disintegrates at the slightest rough handling. And it got a fair amount of that. Evgenia Obraztsova (pictured right), one of their loveliest dancers, danced with restraint and a certain charm, but never found her way into the heart of the style, while Anna Tikhomirova’s dead upper body and flat arms were matched by ears that were seemingly deaf to the music coming out of the pit.
It was left to Ana Turazashvili in the trio to show what could be done. Resembling nothing so much as a Modigliani come to life, Turazashvili floated and drifted, her neck and shoulders always in the correct Romantic shape, even as they were always moving forward, pulsing with Fauré’s phrasing.
Rubies, by contrast, should be bright and brassy and bold, and Ekaterina Krysanova (main picture, above), scampering nimbly through her fiendish solos, her astonishing loose hips allowing her to kick off dazzling développés, did her best to make it just that. Both she and her partner, the careful Dmitri Gudanov, started slowly, but suddenly seemed to realize that if they had fun, we might too; and we did.
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