wed 26/10/2016

Russian Ballet Icons Gala: Celebrating Anna Pavlova, London Coliseum | reviews, news & interviews

Russian Ballet Icons Gala: Celebrating Anna Pavlova, London Coliseum

Russian Ballet Icons Gala: Celebrating Anna Pavlova, London Coliseum

Tip-top stars put on their best to impress the ghost of Ivy House in Golders Green

She danced around the world and back again, mesmerising millions of ignorant spectators, making them feel they’d seen a miracle
Anna Pavlova in 1911

Fokine, the founding choreographer of the Ballets Russes, wrote on Anna Pavlova’s death, “Pavlova will be the dream of many generations, a dream of beauty, of the gladness of movement.” The superb array of international stars of ballet last night showing up at the Coliseum to honour Pavlova a century later had to set you thinking, all over again, about why this particular ballerina remains worldwide the epitome of what people imagine about the ballet.

Pavlova had miserable beginnings - she was the illegitimate child of a laundry-woman in St Petersburg, and once she entered the ballet world she never left it, dancing and dancing, around the world and back again, mesmerising millions of ignorant spectators, touching each person individually, making them feel they’d seen a miracle.

For British ballet she was the source, showing that the motive of ballet’s strict classical demands was dancing - the verb as an action, “the gladness of movement”. This was probably the only way to look at last night’s cornucopia, with the Russians headed by Uliana Lopatkina, Alina Somova and Svetlana Zakharova, the British by Alina Cojocaru and Tamara Rojo, stars from Paris, Italy and New York, and the excitement of the two finest young British émigrés from Russia and Ukraine, Sergei Polunin, formerly of the Royal Ballet, and Vadim Muntagirov of English National Ballet, both no doubt quaking in their shoes before such an overwhelmingly Russian audience.

Below: Alina Cojocaru, Alina Somova, Svetlana Zakharova, Tamara Rojo

cojocaru somova zakharova rojo pavlova gala

Fifteen numbers swept lavishly by (organised splendidly by ENB’s director Wayne Eagling with Ensemble Productions), interspersed (less splendidly, to butchered music) by many photos and snippets of Pavlova. The choreographers were British, Russian, French, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, American. The choreography ranged from what Pavlova knew at the Imperial Ballet - classics - to dubious contemporary preferences of the guest stars, which is very Pavlovian. One glaring absence: the choreographer who practically made Pavlova, Michel Fokine. Not even The Dying Swan, the calling card he made for her - given in music only.

But then you could imagine (Trocks-style) all the ballerinas stabbing each other beforehand to grab the plums. Perhaps they tossed coins. Somova won Giselle, Paris’s Myriam Ould-Braham won Swan Lake, Rojo won Raymonda, Lopatkina won the impersonation of Pavlova herself.


Drat, I managed to miss this second page again: I thought the review was a bit brief. BTW, David Makhateli is no longer a member of the Royal Ballet, either, irrespective of what it may say in the programme (I didn't check).

A very perfunctory review - in fact I initially read it as a preview... By no means as good as last year's landmark Gala, the dancers were in fine form but the programme lacked both cohesion and substance - and would have benefitted greatley from a revised order: ending an evening of homage to this great dancer on such a contemplative note was a bold, but unsatisfying, move. The orchestra was not always at its best and the recorded excerpts inevitably lowered the temperature. Rojo and Polunin stole the show in what should have been the closing number.

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