A Summer of Dance to Remember

Le Corsaire - Bolshoi

Warm summer evenings are starting to come to an end in London (if only we could have temperatures in the twenties all year round…). As we prepare to welcome the autumn dance season, we have a quick look back at what we enjoyed here at The Ballet Bag over the past couple of months:

1. A Tale of Two Cities

ABT gave us some superb performances of The Sleeping Beauty at Opera Bastille last week, while the Bolshoi Ballet took residency at the Royal Opera House for three weeks in July/August, with a stream of blockbusters and the UK premiere of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s The Taming of the Shrew. Before their arrival, we had also dropped by Paris to catch up with NYCB in a gorgeous programme that included three European premieres: Wheeldon’s fun Estancia, Ratmansky’s chic Pictures at an Exhibition and Justin Peck’s cool Everywhere We Go. Between London and Paris, we were fully sorted for our summer dance!

Artists of New York City Ballet in  Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition

Artists of New York City Ballet in Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Photo: © Paul Kolnik / NYCB

2. Most show-stopping premiere: The Bolshoi’s Taming of the Shrew

Aside from 10 Things I Hate About You, Shakespeare’s Shrew has never had a more entertaining vehicle than Maillot’s 2014 creation for the Bolshoi Ballet. Two short but sweet acts that fit the company like a glove, roles that are intrinsically linked to their creators, chic designs, plenty of Shostakovich, and all-around Bolshoiness, the ballet is a hoot. Plus, this was a work in which to admire the artistry of Katya Krysanova, incidentally the only principal performing in all productions during the London tour (if her Katharina was feisty, her Jeanne was exhilarating, her Medora beguiling), this was her time to shine.

Ekaterina Krysanova as Katharina and Vladislav Lantratov as Petruchio

Ekaterina Krysanova as Katharina and Vladislav Lantratov as Petruchio. Photo: © Alice Pennefather

3. Royal Couples at the Bolshoi

Nobody does “Don Q” like the Bolshoi and, in this new revision of Alexei Fadeyechev’s production, we got improved pace, stunning designs/costumes and bravura displays that didn’t overshadow the narrative backbone. Add to all this the sizzling chemistry of IRL duo Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov and it’s as good as it gets. In Swan Lake, however, it was all about Olga Smirnova & Semyon Chudin. Whereas she is currently an authority when it comes to Odette (her long limbs, lyrical arms and serene gaze are the embodiment of the ballerina ideal), he is the perfect cavalier, matching her in temperament, proportions and musicality (no wonder they were also paired in Taming of the Shrew).

Olga Smirnova as Bianca and Semyon Chudin as Hortensio

Olga Smirnova as Bianca and Semyon Chudin as Hortensio. Photo: © Alice Pennefather

4. Stars in the Making

It baffles us how the Mariinsky keeps letting its star ballerinas defect to Moscow. The latest one making this jump is Yulia Stepanova, educated in the purest tradition of St. Petersburg’s grand ballerinas, she is a swan queen to watch and the newest principal at the Bolshoi. Anna Tikhomirova is another artist who has grown immensely since the company’s previous London tour. To our disappointment, she wasn’t given the role of Kitri, but that didn’t stop her from literally “shutting it down” in every single role she got her hands on. Spanish Bride? Check. Mercedes? Check. Gulnare, Check. Sultry Housekeeper in Maillot’s Shrew? Nailed it. Meanwhile in Paris, it was the turn of Cassie Trenary (Aurora/Florine), Devon Teuscher (Lilac Fairy) and Skylar Brandt (Florine) to dazzle us as ballerinas-in-the-making.

Anna Tikhomirova as the Housekeeper

Anna Tikhomirova as the Housekeeper. Photo: © Alice Pennefather

5. American Companies in Peak Form

What do you do when you’re walking down the streets of Paris and you bump into the great man himself (true story)? Well you thank him for all the #Ratmanskyness of course! His revisionist take on The Sleeping Beauty is a treasure and the casts we saw (Murphy/Stearns/Abrera for L. and Boylston/Gorak/Part for E.) seemed fully committed to a production that must rank as the biggest stylistic challenge in ABT’s repertory. Speaking of style, how green with envy are we that Parisians got 3x Justin Pecks this season, while Londoners got none? It hardly seems fair that the choreographer credited with making ballet trendy again should be such a rare sight over this dance capital.

Cassandra Trenary and Artists of American Ballet Theatre in The Sleeping Beauty

Cassandra Trenary and Artists of American Ballet Theatre in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo: © John Grigaitis

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!).

Comments are closed.