Last month, IÂ attended the London premiere of Svetlana Zakharovaâ€™s solo project, Amore, which debutedÂ 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 RiminiÂ by Yuri Possokhov, a choreographer very much in evidence at the moment due to his ballet Nureyev,Â which has just premiered in MoscowÂ after months of delay. Here are my highlightsÂ from the evening:
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.
Variety ofÂ Works
Possokhov’s Francesca da Rimini was the evening’s opening ballet.Â Despite the complicated and uber-dramatic take on this episode from Danteâ€™s Divine Comedy (in my opinion, the least cohesiveÂ work on display here), the piece gave ZakharovaÂ a chance to respond to Tchaikovskyâ€™s sweeping fantasy of the same name. Her legs went on for miles, her arms were glorious, her whole body expressing Francescaâ€™s emotions and doom.
Rocking “the Hair”
Lobukhin asÂ Francesca’s husband (aka â€œthe lame Giovanniâ€, whoÂ didn’t seem so crippled in the ballet), and Rodkin as Giovanniâ€™s brother (and Francescaâ€™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 authenticÂ Bolshoi style.
In Patrick de Banaâ€™s Rain Before it Falls, weÂ 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 alsoÂ seeÂ Denis Savin, a dance actor of great talent,Â as an ever-watchful figure who is connected to the duo. Perhaps he is the memory of an ill-fated relationship, or the image ofÂ inner turmoil?
Reversing Ballet Tropes
Who knew Svetlana Zakharova could do comedy so well? Marguerite Donlonâ€™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 â€“ think reversal of ballet tropes. Zakharova was a delight in this. I came out of the London Coliseum recasting all myÂ previousÂ notions of her range and repertory. Plus, the piece introduced me to Donlon, a choreographer who has been creating in Germany for years. I canâ€™t wait to see whatÂ team Zakharova comes up with next. In particular, I hope for more collaborations betweenÂ these two.