Svetlana Zakharova in Amore

AMORE featuring Svetlana Zakharova (second from left) in Strokes of the Tail Photo: © Jack Devant

Last month, I attended the London premiere of Svetlana Zakharova’s solo project, Amore, which debuted at the Bolshoi in May 2016. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this carefully-curated program, which featured three new works, allowing us to see different facets of the Bolshoi prima. These included Francesca da Rimini by Yuri Possokhov, a choreographer very much in evidence at the moment due to his ballet Nureyev, which has just premiered in Moscow after months of delay. Here are my highlights from the evening:

Team Bolshoi

Svetlana was fabulously supported by a group of Bolshoi principals and soloist dancers, including Denis Rodkin, Mikhail Lobukhin and Denis Savin. A great line-up.

AMORE featuring Svetlana Zakharova in Francesca da Rimini Photo: © Roberto Ricci

Svetlana Zakharova and Artists of the Bolshoi Ballet in Francesca da Rimini Photo: © Roberto Ricci

Variety of Works

Possokhov’s Francesca da Rimini was the evening’s opening ballet. Despite the complicated and uber-dramatic take on this episode from Dante’s Divine Comedy (in my opinion, the least cohesive work on display here), the piece gave Zakharova a chance to respond to Tchaikovsky’s sweeping fantasy of the same name. Her legs went on for miles, her arms were glorious, her whole body expressing Francesca’s emotions and doom.

AMORE Mikhail Lobukhin in 'Francesca da Rimini' photo by Batyr Annadurdyev

Mikhail Lobukhin in ‘Francesca da Rimini’ Photo: © Batyr Annadurdyev

Rocking “the Hair”

Lobukhin as Francesca’s husband (aka “the lame Giovanni”, who didn’t seem so crippled in the ballet), and Rodkin as Giovanni’s brother (and Francesca’s lover Paolo) evoked pure Bolshoi power. They ate the stage, jumping energetically and rocking their respective manes of hair. A bit OTT maybe, but authentic Bolshoi style.

Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Rodkin in Francesca da Rimini

Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Rodkin in Francesca da Rimini. Photo: © Alain Hanel

Chemistry

In Patrick de Bana’s Rain Before it Falls, we have a meaty pas de deux for Zakharova and de Bana. The simplicity of the dance, and the palpable connection between them, made this a fascinating piece to watch. In addition to their emotional exchanges, we also see Denis Savin, a dance actor of great talent, as an ever-watchful figure who is connected to the duo. Perhaps he is the memory of an ill-fated relationship, or the image of inner turmoil?

Patrick de Bana and Svetlana Zakharova in 'Rain Before It Falls' Amore photo Roberto Ricci

Patrick de Bana and Svetlana Zakharova in ‘Rain Before It Falls’ Photo: © Roberto Ricci

Reversing Ballet Tropes

Who knew Svetlana Zakharova could do comedy so well? Marguerite Donlon’s Strokes Through The Tail shows the Bolshoi prima as the centre of attention of five suitors in tailcoats (who later reappear dressed in tutus!). Set to Mozart, we see a variety of interactions that range from funny to absurd – think reversal of ballet tropes. Zakharova was a delight in this. I came out of the London Coliseum recasting all my previous notions of her range and repertory. Plus, the piece introduced me to Donlon, a choreographer who has been creating in Germany for years. I can’t wait to see what team Zakharova comes up with next. In particular, I hope for more collaborations between these two.

AMORE 'Strokes Through The Tail' Photo: © Batyr Annadurdyev

The cast of Amore in ‘Strokes Through The Tail’ Photo: © Batyr Annadurdyev

Her favourite ballets feel like good books – one can see them 1,000 times and they always feel fresh. Linda loves Giselle, all full-length MacMillan plus Song of the Earth, Robbins’s Dances at a Gathering, Balanchine’s Serenade and Agon, Ashton’s Scènes de Ballet and Symphonic Variations.

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