Russian Ballet Icons Gala: Celebrating Anna Pavlova, London Coliseum | Dance reviews, news & interviews
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
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
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.
Share this article
theartsdesk is changing
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. In September we reached our fourth birthday and feel that the time is now right, in line with other media outlets, to start asking our regular readers for a contribution to help us develop the site further. Theartsdesk has therefore moved to a partial subscription model. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
Take an annual subscription now simply click here.
There's snap in the Christmas cracker yet
Russia's infamous ballet acid trial ends, and everyone is brought low
John Cranko's Shakespearean ballet-comedy falls flat these days
German culture, German quality, and (yes, really) German humour
A modern classic and two relative newcomers
Tango and contemporary dance work surprisingly well together
Prosecution opens, amid storm over sacked Bolshoi star's job scoop
Sunny, with the odd cloud is the forecast for Shechter
Contemporary dance is cool for kids
It's all about the music in this diverse programme of modern dance
Pirate premiere is a rollicking good ride
Birmingham Royal Ballet, good and lucky in this production