Thursday, July 5, 2012

Out and About: The Baxter Theatre: Imperial Russian Ballet

Though I normally write the Reviews for my own blog, I decided to give my husband the platform to give his impressions of the Imperial Russian Ballet.  After all, a man's opinion on this ballet might give a different perspective.

The Russian Ballet Delights

A close to full house packed the main hall at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town last night as my wife and I attended  the premier of the the Imperial Russian Ballet in Cape Town after completing performances in Bloemfontein, Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth.  We were privileged to meet the man behind the company, Edouard Miasnikov - a wonderfully entertaining and warm individual who professed to be a real lover of Durban. Apparently this is his favourite spot in South Africa, mostly due to the warm waters he enjoys frequenting while on tour in South Africa.  His love for this country is one of the many reasons he continues to return our shores with groups like The Bolshoi Ballet, The Ice Revue from Moscow - Kaleidoscope, The Moscow State Classical Ballet and so many more.

From the onset Act I, Carmina Burana was unlike anything I've seen before.  There were hints of raw passion, humour and emotion.  Dancers in a mystical folklorish setting, dancing across the stage in dazzling costumes (by Andrey Zlobin) left my wife and I speechless.  The Russian Ballet is unlike any other style of ballet (according to Edouard Miasnikov) - and I had to agree having watched my sister perform for 20 years in South African ballets in schools and shows. This powerful piece was like watching ballet for the first time; leaving one feeling astounded, amazed and impressed, all at the same time.

We were seated amongst other members of the press and media and judging by their ooh's and aah's and bravos after various scenes, we were not the only ones who were impressed. The ballet dancers are notably professional,  with years of grooming evident in their poise and capabilities.  Under the superb directorship of Gediminas Taranda, the first act proved to be a surprising and intriguing start to the Russian Imperial Ballet. 

After what seemed like just a moment, the first act was over and  it was time to grab a drink and some snacks from the well catered services at the Baxter Theatre and mingle with a real assortment of moms, dads, some children and the young crowd out to enjoy an evening out on town.  Ballet seems to be popular among such a varied group of people and is something I think everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.  Watching the ballet conjures up emotions and feelings unlike any other that one would experience, watching a rugby game or some other form of entertainment that South Africans may be more accustomed to.

The second act , Walpurgis Night followed by various pieces from the original classic performances such as Swan Lake, Don Quixote and Sleeping Beauty was a spectacular delight.

For me, the highlight of the ballet were two individual pieces.

The first being Anna Pashkova, who performed barefooted to the haunting music of Don’t Leave Me by Zhak Brell .  Anna commanded the stage with her ability and interpretation of the music leaving the audience spellbound.

The other individual piece, was that of  the dying swan of "Swan Lake" performed by Oxana Sharova. I forgot for a moment that I was part of the audience.  The combination of music, on stage mist and an exquisite performance - make this scene come alive for me.

Though I have focused on 2 individual pieces, it would be unfair not to mention that all the principle dancers:  Anna Pashkova, Elena Colesnicenco, Ekaterina Tikanova, Duminica-Radamaria Nazarenco, Nariman Bekzhanov, Igor Subbotin, Aleksandr Volkov and Arcadie Nazrenco delivered outstanding performances. Each of these talented dancers delivered performances that were worthy of a world class ballet company - one of the world's best.

For other men out there, you may be uncomfortable about seeing other men "jumping around" in tights but after one gets past the initial surprise and discomfort, you start to appreciate the choreography and the set.    The overall beauty of the performance and and the superb way in which it all comes together in one explosive expression of creativity, will have you waiting in anticipation for the rest of the performance to unfold.

I spent a wonderful evening with my wife, at a highly recommended and enjoyable ballet performance!  Make every effort to book a seat, your wife will love you for it and you will discover that ballet is meant to be enjoyed by all, not just by our wives!
Special thanks to the Baxter and Linette de Kock for inviting us to review this performance; to Edouard Miasnikov for entertaining us with his ballet company escapades and to each of the dancers, who gave us yet again a memory moment!

Sean Grant

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