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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Ballet gem from St. Petersburg

“Best dancer in Europe” to perform in Kyiv
13 February, 2007 - 00:00

True ballet aficionados who come to the International Center of Culture and Arts on Feb. 16 will have a unique opportunity to meet world- famous dancers. Performing unusual roles in the program “Modern Russian Choreography” will be the Mariinsky Theater’s prima ballerina Diana Vishneva and principal dancer Igor Kolb, as well as soloists of the legendary St. Petersburg troupe Daria Pavlenko, Islom Baimuradov, and Jessica Mazay, an American graduate of the Vaganova Ballet School, who dances on many European stages.

Vishneva has gained many fans in Kyiv since she was here with the Mariinsky Theater in 2000. She gave an amazing performance in the solo role of Rubies, part of the George Balanchine triptych Jewels. Her sparkling dancing, abundant energy, and perfect technique fully merited the prestigious Golden Masque award. Nearly six years have passed since that triumphant tour, and Vishneva is in Kyiv again. According to polls conducted by the magazine Dance Europe, Vishneva was awarded the title “The Best Dancer in Europe.” This time around, Vishneva will perform modern dance. She admits that she “always seeks to experiment and is ready to take a risk because the quest for novelty is what gives artists a second wind.”

The upcoming concert is also unique because the artists, who are known worldwide for their roles in classical ballets that have become standards of performance mastery, will appear in modern productions specially staged for them by famous contemporary choreographers, including Aleksei Ratmansky, Radu Poklitaru, Aleksei Kononov, and the late, great Evgeny Panfilov.

It is one thing to dance in a ballet that was written 100 years ago for a prima ballerina of the imperial theater. It is an absolutely different thing when a ballet is composed for a specific dancer, geared to her peculiarities, feelings, and passions. Moreover, modern choreography is dominated by emotions and inner feelings, which are the source of plasticity of movement and the choreographic text.

When the “Modern Russian Choreography” program was shown in St. Petersburg, now regarded as the ballet capital, it caused a sensation, primarily because this project is an alternative to the policy followed by the Mariinsky Theater. St. Petersburg ballet aficionados point out that many celebrated dancers do not have a chance to perform modern dance numbers, even though they want to and have them, because they do not have an appropriate place. The Mariinsky Theater recently began holding ballet soirees of young choreographers, following the example of the Grande Opera, but after a couple of concerts the experiment folded.

So Kononov created a program to showcase modern ballet and became the artistic supervisor, director, and choreographer of the project. Then producer Nina Petrova got on board, and when prima ballerina Vishneva agreed to take part in the Soirees of Modern Russian Choreography, the program acquired stardom status.

In Kyiv the company will perform original compositions. The tour organizers are not divulging all their secrets but they promise that spectators can expect some pleasant surprises, like Middle Duet and an excerpt from Cinderella, once staged specially for Vishneva by Aleksei Ratmansky, the former soloist of the National Opera of Ukraine and now the artistic supervisor of the Bolshoi Ballet. Incidentally, 80 percent of the costumes for this concert were designed by a former tailor from Dniprodzerzhynsk, Vladimir Bukhinnik, who is now one of the most popular Russian fashion designers. Bukhinnik, who is known as the “king of avant-quarde fashion,” makes clothes for the cream of St. Petersburg’s bohemia.

By Olha STELMASHEVSKA, Special to The Day