Mariinsky in London Roundup

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of their first visit to London, the Mariinsky Ballet left a trail of brilliancy following its three-week residency at Covent Garden. The company brought a selection of works that played to its strengths: from big classical works like Swan Lake and La Bayadère (which showed off a flawless corps de ballet) to a new full-length work by Alexei Ratmansky. Better late than never, here are our top moments from the tour:

Viktoria Tereshkina as Odile in the Mariinsky's production of Swan Lake. Photo: Natasha Razina / Mariinsky Theatre ©


Having missed the Mariinsky two years ago, it was time to catch up. With six programes and plenty of casts, I was a Bag Lady on a mission:

Shows seen

  • 3x Swan Lake ( Lopatkina / Korsuntsev – Tereshkina / Shklyarov – Kondaurova / Hallberg )
  • Fokine Bill ( Parish / Shirinkina / Selina – Kondaurova – Vishneva / Zelensky )
  • 2x Balanchine / Robbins
    ( cast 1: Matvienko / Sergeyev – Obraztsova / Stepin / Somova / Ivanchenko / Lopatkina / Korsuntsev – Tereshkina / Shklyarov – cast 2:
    Shirinkina / Hallberg – Denis & Anastasia Matvienko / Kondaurova / Ivanchenko / Tereshkina / Smekalov – Somova / Kolb )
  • Don Quixote ( Obraztsova / Timofeyev )
  • 2x Anna Karenina ( Vishneva / Smekalov – Lopatkina / Smekalov )
  • 2x La Bayadère ( Vishneva / Zelensky / Kolegova – Lopatkina / Korsuntsev / Kolegova )


Ulyana Lopatkina

Few ballerinas today have Ulyana’s grandeur, that type of presence that makes the audience feel like they are witnessing something extraordinary. Jane Simpson, in her Swan Lake review for, said: “for all her perfect control and stately presence, I just can’t read her; I envy those who can, for whom she is clearly a goddess.” I guess I am in the camp of those who can!

Kondaurova’s Firebird

Confession: I have never been a big fan of The Firebird. Charming story but not much plot development or memorable moments. All change after Kondaurova’s blazing Firebird: the way she would flicker her hands faster than firefly wings, her jumps smoothly sailing across the stage, it left me thrilled and wishing for an encore.

Ekaterina Kondaurova in Fokine's The Firebird. Photo: Natasha Razina / Mariinsky Theatre ©

Anna Karenina

There are new full-length ballets and then there are “Ratmansky new full-length ballets”. Even though classical dance’s hottest choreographer might have been constrained here by Shchedrin’s score – somewhat lacking in soaring tunes – two performances were enough for us to fall in love with this work (and with Yuri Smekalov’s elegant Vronsky).

Wonderful Corps de Ballet

There is no corps de ballet like the Mariinsky’s; ’nuff said.

Mariinsky does American Royalty

During the Mariinsky’s NYC visit this past June, we read many tweets on the company’s different approach to Balanchine – whose works they dance completely unlike New York City Ballet (ie. not as fast, a lot more “purely classical” in style). Despite this difference, for us it was a pleasure to see the company flesh out the Russian core within Balanchine’s choreography and their performances of Ballet Imperial and Scotch Symphony were polished and beautifully executed, topped with an ultimate A-team of ballerinas for Robbins’s In the Night. More than good enough for UK audiences: we were spellbound.

Bonus: Dream Scene from Don Q

With Katya Kondaurova as Queen of the Dryads and Evgenya Obraztsova as Dulcinea, it’s easy to put up with all of this ballet’s silliness.

Anastasia Matvienko and Alexander Sergeyev in Balanchine's Scotch Symphony. Photo: Natasha Razina / Mariinsky Theatre ©


It feels like I have been following the Mariinsky around the globe for the past couple of months. I returned from a short stay in New York where I had caught The Little Humpbacked Horse and Carmen Suite / Symphony in C just in time to immerse myself in Balanchine and Robbins à la “Imperial Style” and then left for Rio de Janeiro – where the company arrives next week – soon after the premiere of Anna Karenina. Enough shows to name a few favorites of my own:

Shows seen

  • Swan Lake ( Tereshkina / Hallberg )
  • 2x Balanchine / Robbins
    ( cast 1: Matvienko / Sergeyev – Obraztsova / Stepin / Somova / Ivanchenko / Lopatkina / Korsuntsev – Tereshkina / Shklyarov – cast 2:
    Shirinkina / Hallberg – Denis & Anastasia Matvienko / Kondaurova / Ivanchenko / Tereshkina / Smekalov – Somova / Kolb )
  • Anna Karenina ( Vishneva / Smekalov )


Viktoria Tereshkina

I am 100% with The Arts Desk’s Ismene Brown on that one: she is Queen Tereshkina.

Ballet Imperial

It is a great shame that the Mariinsky is not taking this Balanchine jewel to its Rio de Janeiro tour: it was there that the ballet premiered in 1941, in its original incarnation. It was a pleasure and privilege to see it so well danced by two very different but equally compelling casts: on opening night Queen Tereshkina partnered by the sparky Vladimir Shklyarov, with Alina Somova and Igor Kolb looking very elegant and polished the next evening.

Viktoria Tereshkina and Andrian Fadeyev in Balanchine's Ballet Imperial. Photo: Natasha Razina / Mariinsky Theatre ©

David Hallberg

The Mariinsky has an amazing contingent of male soloists: handsome, beautiful long limbs, strong, some excellent partners too. Guesting from ABT in Swan Lake and Scotch Symphony, David “beautiful feet” Hallberg was completely at home amongst Imperial men. We hope for more guesting soon.

Anna Karenina

Hooray for a story ballet not “revised by Konstantin Sergeyev“. New Yorkers might not have been so crazy about Ratmansky’s ballet of doom and gloom, complete with piercing score; and it’s true that the choreographer seems more at home in lighter, wittier pieces. But Anna Karenina is the right kind of narrative ballet for our post MacMillan times: a blend of high concept stagecraft and drama which gives classical dance a cinematographic quality.

Style, style, style!

The company has bucketloads of style. Thank you Vaganova!

Ulyana Lopatkina as Anna and Yuri Smekalov as Vronsky in Ratmansky's Anna Karenina. Photo: Natasha Razina / Mariinsky Theatre ©

We also asked our Twitter followers to share their favorite moments with us:

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We started The Ballet Bag in April 2009 with the mission to prove that ballet is not stuffy, old fashioned and inaccessible; that it is quite the opposite: relevant, fresh and topical. With the aim to Give Ballet a New Spin we try to show it under a different light. When writing our capsule biographies, ballet fact cards, review roundups and commentary on social media, we cross it over with other art forms and cultural references (pop culture, cinema, rock music – ie. other things we love!).