THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
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A visit by the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre to London is always welcome. The company, founded in 1994 by the Russian entrepreneur Konstantin Tachkin, is proud that they receive no state or corporate sponsorship. Its USP is to bring the great classical canon of Russian ballet to the world and it does this by constant touring of high quality traditional interpretations, which give audiences a chance to see these evergreen epics with big casts and a large live orchestra.
The company also attracts major guest stars from the more famous Russian ballet houses and this tour has Kimin Kim from the Mariinsky as well as Denis Rodkin, Yulia Stepanova and Alexander Volchkov from the Bolshoi. The star though, who brings fans through the door, is Irina Kolesnikova who has been company's Prima Ballerina since 2001.
The power of the immortal love story of Swan Lake, about the princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer and set to Tchaikovsky's enchanting score, never seems to fade and this production has scale (28 cygnets for one thing), beautiful traditionally painted backdrops and lighting of the old school variety, where it's all about showing off the star turns.
Kolesnikova is a wonder, tall and supple, her expressively fluid arms beautifully evoke the vulnerability of Odette, until she then transforms into the malevolent, self-assured and charismatic Odile, who is all sharp edges and piercing looks.
Denis Rodkin's partnering is attentive and muscular throughout and he seems to be the perfect troubled, handsome, prince. In the solos his jumps are dazzling but as well as technical firepower he also has the acting chops to embody the languid air of ennui which characterises Prince Siegfried before he gets struck by Cupid's arrow. Sergei Fedorkov too has that perfect combination of gymnastic ability and wit to be a great Joker.
Swan Lake is ultimately the test of an ensemble though and here we have a perfect 'four little swans' sequence for example and throughout some blinding precision from c.30 women in the corps de ballet.
Swan Lake can be ended in a number of ways, and indeed has been, but here we get a happy ending, albeit one at odds with the tragic tone of the music.
For anyone with a youngster who might be slightly ballet struck, taking them to this will be transforming.