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Общество Друзья Большого балета
Большой в Америке 2000

 
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LINCOLN CENTER FESTIVAL REVIEW; Seamless And Elegant, A 'Giselle' Triumphant
By ANNA KISSELGOFF
Published: July 24, 2000, Monday

The Bolshoi Ballet ended its too brief season yesterday as part of Lincoln Center Festival 2000 but not before there was room for the young Svetlana Lunkina to triumph in ''Giselle'' amid a cascade of other major debuts on Saturday.
At 20, Ms. Lunkina, a porcelain figure with black hair and inherent elegance, has become the public's instant darling. Her Giselle absorbs the best of tradition but allows her presence to radiate across the stage.


On Saturday afternoon, Yekaterina Maximova, one of the world's great Giselles since she was the young revelation of the Bolshoi's historic New York debut in 1959, was in the New York State Theater to watch her protegee. Much of the seamless beauty of Ms. Lunkina's performance undoubtedly comes from Ms. Maximova's coaching. One recognizes her emphasis on dramatic motivation within a pure classical style. Every step and gesture is absorbed into a coherent whole.

Suddenly Vladimir Vasiliev's 1997 production of ''Giselle'' snaps into place. This is not to say that it is short on idiosyncrasies or that it does not accommodate performers who have their own ideas about the ballet. Ms. Lunkina was paired with Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who was not shy about taking liberties in his first New York appearance as Albrecht, the aristocrat in disguise who seduces and betrays Giselle, the innocent village lass. Natalia Malandina was the excellent new Myrtha, queen of the Wilis, the ghosts from whom Giselle saves Albrecht in the world of the spirits. Ruslan Pronin was new as Hilarion, the gamekeeper who loves Giselle.

In the evening Andrei Uvarov made his debut as Albrecht opposite Nina Ananiashvili, who was in top form as she was on opening night on Tuesday. Maria Allash was the new Myrtha.

Ms. Ananiashvili carries the ballet by remaining herself. She has a spontaneous style with a formidable technique and keeps well within the production. Nonetheless she often stands out in relief from the staging by the power of her performance, while Ms. Lunkina, younger and more malleable, has been clearly coached to remain within recognizable stylistic parameters.

''Giselle'' was the idea of the French Romantic poet Theophile Gautier. Its blend of realistic drama in Act I and the formal choreography of Act II embodied his view of ballet as ''at once the most material and ideal of spectacles.''

It was Ms. Lunkina's triumph to convey a visual and emotional beauty rooted in classical style, to hark back to Gautier's vision. Some productions of ''Giselle'' aptly emphasize the realism of the first act, contrasting with the more abstract corps patterns of Act II. Yet this venerable ballet, created in 1841 to Adolphe Adam's enduring score, survives on two levels: a ballet that is Romantic in content and expression but well within the tradition of classical ballet.

There was no verismo in Ms. Lunkina's performance, in which every step, gesture and pose was part of a continuous act of accomplishment, a story told in a consistent and classical idiom. Her village girl had a touch of sadness from the start, while Ms. Ananiashvili's brimmed with the joy of life.

Injured earlier this week, Ms. Lunkina did remarkably well under the circumstances. Her major solo in Act I, which Mr. Vasiliev has repositioned so that Giselle dances for Bathilde, Albrecht's fiancee, rather than earlier, took no risks but was a model of clarity and placement. The light skips of the first act grew into strong leaps in Act II; Ms. Lunkina did not offer the deepest of arabesques but described a superbly etched ethereal image.

This was a Giselle who could touch with her prettiness and innocence in Act I, where she reacted sharply to Hilarion. Mr. Vasiliev has given that role more bravura, which occasionally breaks with dramatic logic. Mr. Pronin, like the more enraged Hilarion of Alexander Petukhov on Saturday night, had the impressive committed vigor apt for the demi-charactere dances that are new.

Hilarion is more present than Albrecht, who cannot see Giselle's big solo because he is hiding from Bathilde. Why Giselle should be upset over an absentee lover is not clear in this version, but Ms. Lunkina's mad scene had the virtue of a carefully coached set piece made to look utterly natural: a young girl losing touch with reality but without hysteria.

Mr. Tsiskaridze on the other hand is an emotional performer, which is to his credit. Had he not substituted his own choreography for Albrecht's solo in Act II (he omitted the three double air turns) and not danced so wildly in the needless virtuosity added to the very end, his Albrecht would have persuaded with its tender passion. Unlike other Albrechts he also wore a big jeweled cross in Act II just as he wore a cross as Mercutio in ''Romeo and Juliet'' on tour last month. It was a questionable, even provincial touch.

To know Romantic ballet is to understand it, and here one recommends the writings on ''Giselle'' of Lincoln Kirstein, who founded the New York City Ballet with George Balanchine. Referring to the Romantic disillusionment of the creators of ''Giselle,'' Kirstein writes in ''Movement and Metaphor'': ''The cross on Giselle's grave is simply decorative since the collaborators were entirely cynical. The divine symbol was now simply picturesque.''

''Giselle'' and ''Romeo and Juliet,'' as a play, have endured because their authors were not sectarian. Private faith is one thing, performance tradition is another. Carlotta Grisi, the original Giselle of 1841, came from a Jewish family of prominent dancers and singers but she did not wear a Star of David as Giselle onstage. To impose a sectarian view on such works is to deny their universal appeal.

Happily they can be appreciated on the immediate level of performance. Mr. Uvarov, a fine dancer whose image is elongated and vertical in his air turns, offered an unassertive but elegant Albrecht. The Myrthas contributed space-devouring leaps with Ms. Malandina dancing with special authority. May the Bolshoi come back soon.
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LINCOLN CENTER FESTIVAL REVIEWS; Backstage Drama And Bolshoi Power
By ANNA KISSELGOFF
Published: July 21, 2000, Friday

Sheer dance power is what the Bolshoi Ballet has brought back to New York. There was no better showcase than its exciting second program of the season, which introduced a phalanx and variety of dancers on a mixed bill that ranged from Marius Petipa to George Balanchine.
The performance of ''Symphony in C,'' the first Balanchine work ever danced here by the company from Moscow, had been preceded by backstage drama. The initial movement of the 1948 Balanchine-Bizet classic was led on Wednesday night at the New York State Theater by Anastasia Goriacheva, who turned 19 on the same day.


Yet until Tuesday, she had never even rehearsed the role. Nonetheless, when Svetlana Lunkina, the company's rising young star, injured herself, Ms. Goriacheva was plucked out of the corps to replace her and put into nonstop rehearsal mode.

It is a measure of the depth of the Bolshoi's youngest ranks that Ms. Goriacheva could sail so smoothly through the lively first movement with such charm, confidence and polish and also keep up in the unison finale with three, mostly senior, ballerinas. ''Symphony in C,'' which closed the program, brought the audience to its feet in an ovation so strong and prolonged that it seemed to catch the dancers by surprise.

It was a capital idea for Lincoln Center Festival 2000 to offer the equivalent of what the Bolshoi Ballet used to call a concert program -- mainly excerpts with a full ballet (''Symphony in C'') thrown in. The major excerpt was the Kingdom of the Shades scene from Petipa's ''Bayadere,'' with a juicy, disciplined corps framing the stunning grand style of Galina Stepanenko, perfect in her form and musicality, and Nikolai Tsiskaridze, an extraordinary dancer both wayward in his charisma and brilliant in his virtuosity.

The program opened shrewdly with the blast of male bravura once synonymous with the Bolshoi. In this case, it was the ''Appian Way'' scene from Yuri Grigorovich's 1968 ''Spartacus,'' in which the Thracian slave of the title prepares for battle against the Romans.

Drama and brawn revved up the audience, paving the way for Nina Ananiashvili and her elegant new partner Andrei Uvarov, in the ''Don Quixote Grand Pas,'' the Bolshoi staple that backs up the familiar pas de deux with a small female ensemble.

In this limited panorama of the company as a whole, the surprise is the stylish new form of the men, from corps to principals. They move easily from classical precision to the expressive and athletic stamina of the ''Spartacus'' excerpt.

The women are more unpredictable. On one hand there is Maria Alexandrova, the company's new golden girl. She dances big in the Bolshoi style and she and Mr. Tsiskaridze, in the third movement of ''Symphony in C,'' made the Balanchine ballet breathe with the spirit and energy it deserved. The stage was too small for their leaps and their dynamism.

On the other hand, there is occasional disdain for niceties of form. For every supple arched back in a perfect line of women as the ghosts or shades in ''La Bayadere,'' there are soloists whose feet are not neat or in the right position.

Ms. Ananiashvili (partnered by Mr. Uvarov), could get away with her blurred passes in ''Don Quixote'' because she communicates something larger: the exhilaration and joy of dancing.

In its approach to ''Symphony in C,'' the company did what it was taught: it danced a version that differed in some respects from the current staging at New York City Ballet, Balanchine's own company. The differences are in the group formations and especially in the second movement where the ballerina turns her back to the audience several times. This is the version preferred by John Taras, Balanchine's longtime associate. He owns the rights to the ballet and staged it in Moscow with Patricia Neary. Since they were also credited with the Kirov Ballet's staging last year, one can wonder why the two ballets look so different.

Some of it has to do with the Bolshoi's style. Ms. Ananiashvili, a guest in 1988 with City Ballet, still prefers to snap into positions rather than flow into them in the second movement, in which she is basically miscast.

Mr. Uvarov was a fine and forceful partner, as was Sergei Filin in the first movement, where Ms. Goriacheva did wonders with music that sagged under Andrei Sotnikov's baton. The orchestra comes from the New York City Opera.

It took some time for both the dancing and the music to sing. But when Ms. Stepanenko and Dmitri Belogolovtsev, with his ultrahigh spring, led the fourth movement, the female corps was ready to shed its square-cut phrasing and mechanical precision. Energy finally poured forth from all for a dazzling finale.

Ms. Stepanenko is a solid ballerina who promises little refinement and yet surprises with her gift to make form exquisite and expressive. Her dancing as Nikiya in ''La Bayadere'' was impressive for its technical perfection, subtle in its musical climaxes. Repeatedly, Mr. Tsiskaridze as her partner left her to balance in arabesque. Repeatedly, she came softly down from toe and followed him.

In his solo and coda, Mr. Tsiskaridze flew around the stage in arrow-sharp leaps, a god of the wind with whirlwind grace. He carried off the virtuosic double assemble turns in the air with ease.

As for the excerpt from ''Spartacus,'' it is easy to see why Mr. Grigorovich's shrewd blend of cinematic dissolves and mass groupings retains its power. Mr. Belogolovtsev may be slim and not in the heroic mold of the past. But there is no question that every tattered shepherd on stage, dancing his heart out, will rally to this Spartacus.

He triumphs through the sheer conviction of his performance.
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BALLET REVIEW; Another Lyrical Approach to Balanchine
By ANNA KISSELGOFF
Published: July 22, 2000, Saturday

Sprinkled with debuts, the Bolshoi Ballet's mixed bill settled down more happily on Thursday night than it had the night before.
The young Svetlana Lunkina recovered from an injury to make her first appearance at the New York State Theater in George Balanchine's ''Symphony in C.'' Like Anastasia Goriacheva, the equally young corps member who was thrown into her role at short notice on Wednesday, Ms. Lunkina takes a more lyrical approach to the first movement of the Balanchine-Bizet ballet than her American counterparts.


The music, conducted by Alexander Sotnikov to accommodate this focus on legato phrasing but graduating into the right brisk tempo, enhanced Ms. Lunkina's elegant image and clean Neo-Classical style.

John Taras, who says he staged the ballet in Moscow with Tatiana Terekhova, has produced a version that differs somewhat from the current New York City Ballet's. But Sergei Filin's omission of the male solo in the first movement on Wednesday was not one of this production's idiosyncrasies. On Thursday, he opted to give this solo the benefit of his resilient jumps and the punch of his forceful pirouettes.

Nina Ananiashvili also did better, replacing the exclamation points of her dancing with newfound regal serenity in the second movement. The corps, while still tending to push down when its energy should be up, had more of the requisite oomph. The thing to remember is that Balanchine was paying tribute here to the brio of French-Italian classicism, not to the grand style of the Russian Imperial Ballet.

In the ''Don Quixote'' Grand Pas, Ms. Ananiashvili danced with the fan she previously did without in her rather free-form solo, and Mr. Filin was new as her relatively subdued partner. By contrast, Andrei Uvarov's debut as Solor to Galina Stepanenko's ever-impressive Nikiya in the Kingdom of the Shades scene from ''La Bayadere'' had an explosive power that his cautious preparations for steps did not promise. There is nobility to his lanky vertical silhouette. The corps was stunning in Petipa's crystalline patterns.
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LINCOLN CENTER FESTIVAL REVIEWS; Backstage Drama And Bolshoi Power
By ANNA KISSELGOFF
Published: July 21, 2000, Friday

Sheer dance power is what the Bolshoi Ballet has brought back to New York. There was no better showcase than its exciting second program of the season, which introduced a phalanx and variety of dancers on a mixed bill that ranged from Marius Petipa to George Balanchine.
The performance of ''Symphony in C,'' the first Balanchine work ever danced here by the company from Moscow, had been preceded by backstage drama. The initial movement of the 1948 Balanchine-Bizet classic was led on Wednesday night at the New York State Theater by Anastasia Goriacheva, who turned 19 on the same day.


Yet until Tuesday, she had never even rehearsed the role. Nonetheless, when Svetlana Lunkina, the company's rising young star, injured herself, Ms. Goriacheva was plucked out of the corps to replace her and put into nonstop rehearsal mode.

It is a measure of the depth of the Bolshoi's youngest ranks that Ms. Goriacheva could sail so smoothly through the lively first movement with such charm, confidence and polish and also keep up in the unison finale with three, mostly senior, ballerinas. ''Symphony in C,'' which closed the program, brought the audience to its feet in an ovation so strong and prolonged that it seemed to catch the dancers by surprise.

It was a capital idea for Lincoln Center Festival 2000 to offer the equivalent of what the Bolshoi Ballet used to call a concert program -- mainly excerpts with a full ballet (''Symphony in C'') thrown in. The major excerpt was the Kingdom of the Shades scene from Petipa's ''Bayadere,'' with a juicy, disciplined corps framing the stunning grand style of Galina Stepanenko, perfect in her form and musicality, and Nikolai Tsiskaridze, an extraordinary dancer both wayward in his charisma and brilliant in his virtuosity.

The program opened shrewdly with the blast of male bravura once synonymous with the Bolshoi. In this case, it was the ''Appian Way'' scene from Yuri Grigorovich's 1968 ''Spartacus,'' in which the Thracian slave of the title prepares for battle against the Romans.

Drama and brawn revved up the audience, paving the way for Nina Ananiashvili and her elegant new partner Andrei Uvarov, in the ''Don Quixote Grand Pas,'' the Bolshoi staple that backs up the familiar pas de deux with a small female ensemble.

In this limited panorama of the company as a whole, the surprise is the stylish new form of the men, from corps to principals. They move easily from classical precision to the expressive and athletic stamina of the ''Spartacus'' excerpt.

The women are more unpredictable. On one hand there is Maria Alexandrova, the company's new golden girl. She dances big in the Bolshoi style and she and Mr. Tsiskaridze, in the third movement of ''Symphony in C,'' made the Balanchine ballet breathe with the spirit and energy it deserved. The stage was too small for their leaps and their dynamism.

On the other hand, there is occasional disdain for niceties of form. For every supple arched back in a perfect line of women as the ghosts or shades in ''La Bayadere,'' there are soloists whose feet are not neat or in the right position.

Ms. Ananiashvili (partnered by Mr. Uvarov), could get away with her blurred passes in ''Don Quixote'' because she communicates something larger: the exhilaration and joy of dancing.

In its approach to ''Symphony in C,'' the company did what it was taught: it danced a version that differed in some respects from the current staging at New York City Ballet, Balanchine's own company. The differences are in the group formations and especially in the second movement where the ballerina turns her back to the audience several times. This is the version preferred by John Taras, Balanchine's longtime associate. He owns the rights to the ballet and staged it in Moscow with Patricia Neary. Since they were also credited with the Kirov Ballet's staging last year, one can wonder why the two ballets look so different.

Some of it has to do with the Bolshoi's style. Ms. Ananiashvili, a guest in 1988 with City Ballet, still prefers to snap into positions rather than flow into them in the second movement, in which she is basically miscast.

Mr. Uvarov was a fine and forceful partner, as was Sergei Filin in the first movement, where Ms. Goriacheva did wonders with music that sagged under Andrei Sotnikov's baton. The orchestra comes from the New York City Opera.

It took some time for both the dancing and the music to sing. But when Ms. Stepanenko and Dmitri Belogolovtsev, with his ultrahigh spring, led the fourth movement, the female corps was ready to shed its square-cut phrasing and mechanical precision. Energy finally poured forth from all for a dazzling finale.

Ms. Stepanenko is a solid ballerina who promises little refinement and yet surprises with her gift to make form exquisite and expressive. Her dancing as Nikiya in ''La Bayadere'' was impressive for its technical perfection, subtle in its musical climaxes. Repeatedly, Mr. Tsiskaridze as her partner left her to balance in arabesque. Repeatedly, she came softly down from toe and followed him.

In his solo and coda, Mr. Tsiskaridze flew around the stage in arrow-sharp leaps, a god of the wind with whirlwind grace. He carried off the virtuosic double assemble turns in the air with ease.

As for the excerpt from ''Spartacus,'' it is easy to see why Mr. Grigorovich's shrewd blend of cinematic dissolves and mass groupings retains its power. Mr. Belogolovtsev may be slim and not in the heroic mold of the past. But there is no question that every tattered shepherd on stage, dancing his heart out, will rally to this Spartacus.

He triumphs through the sheer conviction of his performance.
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LINCOLN CENTER FESTIVAL REVIEW; A Dance of Remorse and Regeneration
By ANNA KISSELGOFF
Published: July 20, 2000, Thursday

The Bolshoi Ballet has returned to New York after an absence of 10 years, the same but different. Except for Nina Ananiashvili, who may never have been better than she was in Vladimir Vasiliev's superbly danced new staging of ''Giselle'' on Tuesday night, the current principals are unfamiliar to local audiences.
Yet for all their Western look, the dancers had the old Bolshoi verve, invigorated by the coherent style seen last month during the company's five-city national tour. New York will not see the Bolshoi's scintillating performances of ''Don Quixote,'' as those cities did. But even the brief run the Lincoln Center Festival 2000 is presenting, with two programs through Sunday (the second is a mixed bill), is better than none.


By any cultural standard the return of the Bolshoi, which made its historic New York debut in 1959, is a major event. The engagement is sold out: the company's mystique remains intact. It is no secret, however, that the Bolshoi has had its ups and downs. Not only do aesthetics change, but reality intrudes as well. More than 20 years of turmoil within the company, a turnover in directors and an adjustment to a society itself in turmoil will take its toll.

Yet the metaphor for the Bolshoi Ballet today could well be the theme of ''Giselle'': remorse and regeneration. There is obviously a spirited effort to pull the company together. This ''Giselle'' is persuasive, although not profound. At this performance, it was difficult to be moved but easy to be dazzled by the excellence of the dancing.

Mr. Vasiliev, 60, was appointed in 1995 to a new double post as artistic director and general director of the entire Bolshoi Theater, which includes the opera and ballet troupes. Aleksei Fadeyechev, 40, was named artistic director of the ballet company in 1998.

Neither will claim that the company's dramatic profundity and bravura still exist as they did when Mr. Vasiliev and his wife, Yekaterina Maksimova, danced alongside great stars like Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya and Nikolai Fadeyechev, Aleksei Fadeyechev's father. But in 1975, when the Bolshoi presented Leonid Lavrovsky's landmark 1944 production of ''Giselle'' in New York, the full passion of the Bolshoi's traditional mix of realism and romanticism could still explode from the stage.

Mr. Vasiliev's new staging (1997) is a surprise. Where one could expect the robust realism he expressed so brilliantly while performing the Lavrovsky ''Giselle,'' there is an emphasis on dance rather than characterization.

The entire production has a point of view, which the eroded ''Giselle'' of the Kirov did not have here last year. Nonetheless, dramatic motivation is not given free rein in this version.

But Giselle's mime is retained, and Ms. Ananiashvili was especially vibrant, playful and childlike in Act I, while vigorous as a Wili, or ghost, in Act II. Her big solo, usually danced earlier in the same act, was here danced for Bathilde, the fiancee of Albrecht, the aristocrat who seduces Giselle. Rarely has technique been as flawless in this solo, complete with full double turns in attitude and strong hops on toe. Ms. Ananiashvili's beautiful arabesques in Act II were clearly etched upon the eye.

More than strong support in Act II came from the Queen of the Wilis, the young Maria Alexandrova, a statuesque dancer in the grand, expressive Bolshoi style, with a contemporary sleekness. She was stern but exciting.

The Bolshoi corps of Wilis had an admirable discipline, and yet the contrast between the second act and the first was deliberately muted. Here, Mr. Vasiliev is on risky ground.

The essence of a Romantic ballet like ''Giselle'' is the dichotomy between its realistic first act and the supernatural world of its second act. But Mr. Vasiliev opts to unite both as a fantasy expressed through the decor. The main innovation in Sergei Barkhin's set is a tasseled curtain that blends into the sepia landscape of Act I and the foliage of Act II. Nonetheless, the scenery works on its own terms; this is not true of the overwrought costumes by the French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy. The squire, in Act I, looks like a fugitive from a Shriners' convention and wears a peacock feather in his fez.

With an emphasis on dancing rather than mime, and a swift tempo kept up in the pit by the conductor Alexander Sotnikov, there is little room to delineate a character fully. Sergei Filin, as Albrecht, was neither a cad nor a tender lover. He was, above all, a fine classical dancer (three double turns in the air with arms up, landing in the right position). One never found out what was behind his cardboard facade.

One reason is that Mr. Vasiliev shifts his focus to Hilarion, the gamekeeper who is a rival for Giselle's love. Lavrovsky injected a dose of class drama, making this potential villain into a good man because he was a man of the people. But in this version, Hilarion is like Albrecht, neither good nor bad. When he should be brooding, he bursts into exuberant bravura. The new choreography for him was executed with demi-caractere polish by Aleksander Petukhov.

Hilarion is not Rothbart, the evil magician in ''Swan Lake.'' To give him as much time as Giselle and Albrecht is to detract from the essence of ''Giselle.'' Choreographically, it is a ballerina's ballet in true 19th-century Romantic style. But the narrative concerns the epitome of the Romantic hero, the man who sins and undergoes spiritual regeneration.

Mr. Vasiliev wanted to give Giselle a choice of two suitors. But the point is that they are not equal: the Romantic hero is Albrecht, because he sins knowingly, while Hilarion does not.

On the other hand, Mr. Vasiliev's choreographic additions, especially a classical showcase for four couples in place of the Peasant Pas de Deux, have a vibrant polish. In the end, wonderful dancing carries the day.
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DANCE REVIEW; Bolshoi's New 'Quixote' Is Faithful to the Old Yet More Classical in Its Mien
By ANNA KISSELGOFF
Published: June 6, 2000, Tuesday

WASHINGTON, June 4 -- Lucky Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and Costa Mesa. Audiences there will be able to see the Bolshoi Ballet on its current national tour in ''Don Quixote'' and as the weekend's performances here at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts confirmed, nobody dances ''Don Quixote'' like the Bolshoi. The effect is overwhelming, a blaze of color on every level of perception.
New York is to see the company from Moscow in a separate engagement. Beginning July 18, Lincoln Center Festival 2000 will present the Bolshoi in ''Giselle'' and a mixed bill that includes George Balanchine's ''Symphony in C.''


In Washington the company came fully into its own with different casts in contrasting signature pieces: Leonid Lavrovsky's 1940 ''Romeo and Juliet'' and Aleksei Fadeyechev's spanking new production of ''Don Quixote,'' based on the exuberant version that has come down from early-20th-century stagings by Aleksandr Gorsky.

There was a time when the Bolshoi broke the rules of polite ballet behavior. ''Don Quixote'' was the epitome of the expressive Bolshoi style. The niceties of precision in classical dancing were less important than dramatic power projected through technique.

Sir Frederick Ashton, the great English choreographer, stunned by the Bolshoi's initial impact in the West, felt compelled to reaffirm his faith in the ''correct'' textbook style of classical dancing. Yet he added that if the British were right in their restrained approach, they were right like pygmies while the Bolshoi, even if wrong, were giants.

The Bolshoi Ballet on view today is a very different company. Most of the principals joined in the late 1980's or 90's; their schooling and coaching have groomed them in a more classical direction. They look more like their Western counterparts.

The ''Don Quixote'' of the 1960's identified with the great performances of Vladimir Vasiliev and Yekaterina Maksimova, not to speak of Maya Plisetskaya, cannot be reproduced. Dancers of such power do not exist anymore. Mr. Vasiliev has, in fact, been general and artistic director of the entire Bolshoi Theater since 1995.

Although the company had two badly organized engagements in Las Vegas and Los Angeles in 1996, this is its first United States national tour in 10 years, under the direction of Mr. Vasiliev and Mr. Fadeyechev, who is artistic director of the ballet company.

What Mr. Fadeyechev has done in his new ''Don Quixote'' is to remain faithful to the old one that the Bolshoi has had as a touchstone for a century. There are new sets by Sergei Barkhin, but the costumes are based on a 1903 production, with sketches by Vassily Dyachkov.

The grand theatrical spectacle, aflame through its unusually numerous Spanish dances, the animation in the crowd scenes and the ensemble spirit that links the very young men in the Gypsy dances to the ballerina in her tutu in the classical showpieces: all this and more came together in the performances on Friday night and Sunday afternoon at the Kennedy Center.

If the Bolshoi dances ''Don Quixote'' differently from other companies, this is because it stages it differently and more dynamically. In no small part, much is owed to the character dancers. Here one must single out the stunning performances of Vladimir Moiseyev, grandson of Igor Moiseyev, director and founder of the famed Moiseyev Folk Company.

In ''Romeo and Juliet'' on Saturday, Mr. Moiseyev's ferocious Tybalt was mocking and snarling and above all imbued with an animal energy that propelled him around the stage in pursuit of his prey. As the bullfighter in ''Don Quixote,'' he was grandly over the top: a vain cape twirler, mannered but virile in an amazing Baroque performance.

In the same way Aleksandr Petukhov as Sancho Panza offered a gem: everything was acted out in movement, expression and gesture, describing a tubby loyal servant, not a clown. Happy as a clam when things go right, he evoked sympathy when ridiculed and clung to his master's leg. Aleksei Loparevich, determined as the Don on Friday night, and Andrei Sitnikov, more of a dazed visionary on Sunday, made the title character believable in a version that integrates this mime role into the plot, such as it is.

Here again, Basil the barber and his sweetheart, Kitri, outwit Kitri's father, who wants to marry her off to a rich fop. Don Quixote wanders through the plot in a context enriched by highly individualized performances that relate to him. There is not one dead spot, and the familiar Ludwig Minkus score, conducted on Friday by Aleksandr Kopylov, and on Sunday by Aleksandr Sotnikov, kept up the same dynamic pace. No sooner had a classical variation been completed than the Spanish character dances, scintillating in their frontal attack, poured onto center stage.

It was thanks to Gorsky, who revised Marius Petipa's 1869 ''Don Quixote'' in 1900 and 1906, that the Moscow version has kept its animated bustle.

In 1946 the ballet was restaged at the Bolshoi by Rostislav Zakharov. Mr. Fadeyechev has kept that choreographer's interpolations as well as those by Anatoly Simachyov and Kasyan Goleizovsky, whose solo for a Gypsy woman was executed by Yuliana Malkhasyants with the back-arching mastery of a veteran character dancer.

Even more thrilling was the racing circle of bullfighters around the stage and the group dances. Nonetheless the leading roles are not lost in this rich and coherent tapestry. As Kitri, Mariya Aleksandrova is a golden girl, a streamlined dancer with the extraordinary Bolshoi spring in her leaps. She has beautiful placement, flair and sex appeal. Dmitri Belogolovtsev, the Basil on Sunday, looks better as a partner than a soloist, although he has been seen to stronger effect in guest appearances. On Friday night Galina Stepanenko was impressively solid as Kitri if less vivacious with Sergei Filin, an inconsistent but passionate classical dancer. The men, surprisingly by Bolshoi standards, are not as strong as their counterparts in the West.

Yet the entire company is not on view on this tour, and the idiosyncrasies of Bolshoi's style should not always be confused with bad habits. The women still throw their arms up during their jetes, and the dynamism of this image, no matter how at odds with academic style, is indisputable. In the final act, the grand pas de deux is danced at the court of the Duke and Duchess, who are absent from many Western productions. Similarly, the Bolshoi begins ''Romeo and Juliet'' with a rarely seen tableau in which the lovers and Friar Laurence are pictured as statues. On Saturday afternoon Inna Petrova, a superb dancer, and Andrei Uvarov touched an emotional chord.

They danced best of all and yet on Saturday night, Ms. Stepanenko and Mr. Filin captured the 1940's style, with its special flow, more persuasively. The Bolshoi today may not break rules but it plays by its own rules.
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BALLET REVIEW; Strife Between Aristocrats and the Children of Tomorrow
By ANNA KISSELGOFF
Published: June 1, 2000, Thursday

WASHINGTON, May 31 -- It was not just another company, another show. The return of the Bolshoi Ballet from Moscow for its first United States tour in 10 years fills a gap for American audiences that has been sorely felt.
No other foreign ballet company had the explosive impact on the West that Bolshoi did when it first appeared in London in 1956 and in New York in 1959.


The troupe has certainly had its ups and downs over the decades. But the Bolshoi has never lost the effect of the initial images it impressed upon the eye. Here was power in technique, dramatic projection and even choreographic novelty. Every American ballerina held aloft in an overhead lift by her partner owes something to the Bolshoi, as does the cascade of ballets throughout the world that are set to Prokofiev's ''Romeo and Juliet.''

There is nonetheless only one landmark version of the Prokofiev score, and it is the version by Leonid Lavrovsky with which the Bolshoi opened on Tuesday night at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts here.

It is a magnificent ballet, a museum piece of extraordinary dimension that is couched in a style of dramatic realism that is very difficult for contemporary dancers to capture. In a somewhat diluted version, it was the surprise hit of the Kirov Ballet's 1992 season at the Metropolitan Opera House. Then as on Tuesday, the ballet was led by Nina Ananiashvili, a guest with the Kirov, and now even more of a poignant Juliet with a Bolshoi Romeo, the noble Andrei Uvarov.

Prokofiev wrote his now overly popular score (heard on one American television commercial too many) for the ''Romeo and Juliet'' that Lavrovsky choreographed in 1940 for the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad. When Lavrovsky and his legendary Juliet, Galina Ulanova, transferred to Moscow after World War II, he restaged the ballet with some changes in 1946. It is with this Bolshoi version that the company made its historic debut in New York in 1959.

It was a stupefying production (also seen on film with Ulanova) that initially left critics and audience stunned, sometimes baffled. Above all, it was an exercise in Stanislavsky-type realism, with each dancer, down to every beggar in Verona, motivated by meaning in gesture. What looked like silent acting was a flow of dance and modern mime that was direct rather than symbolic.

In tune with Soviet times, Lavrovsky cast ''Romeo and Juliet'' as a class drama: a bold and sprawling picture of the people contrasted with haughty aristocrats who crushed the human spirit.

The Soviet dance historian Yuri Slonimsky saw Lavrovsky's theme as ''the unequal struggle waged by the children of tomorrow against the injustice of yesterday.'' Lavrovsky, however, never lost sight of the love story while placing it in an interpretive social context. And unlike the later Western versions that he himself spawned, his ''Romeo and Juliet'' reconciled the Capulets and Montagues at the end, thus remaining true to Shakespeare.

Unlike the Kirov revival, the current Bolshoi version does not turn its aristocrats into cartoons. Andrei Sitnikov is not an exaggerated Lord Capulet but rather an autocratic patriarch enraged by his daughter's refusal to marry Paris. After she has taken her potion and he thinks she is dead, his pain, hand to heart, is telegraphed with intensity and depth.

The Kirov's Paris was vain but Alexei Barsegyan, as a strong-willed but uncomprehending youth, merely looked into a mirror held by his page and did not preen. Similarly, when Lavrovsky has Tybalt kick a peddler, the scene is part of a social fabric not a vicious image for its own sake.

The Bolshoi has brought along the famous checkerboard floor that the Kirov omitted and that is such a striking part of the sets and costumes by Pyotr Williams. Williams was a major Russian designer, and the Renaissance luxury he created for the Leningrad and Moscow productions is felt especially in his ballroom scene in Act I and the richly patterned drapes of Juliet's bedroom in Act III, which precedes the epilogue and its reconciliation of the clans.

But the opera house stage at the Kennedy Center is too small to give full justice to the pictorial power of this ''Romeo,'' which is to be repeated with other casts on Saturday afternoon and evening. ''Don Quixote,'' in a new production by Alexei Fadeyechev, the Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director since 1998, will also be performed on this five-city tour presented by the Kennedy Center with David Eden productions: ''Don Quixote,'' led by Ms. Ananiashvili on Thursday night, will be repeated Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

The creased look of the old scenery in the beginning could be eliminated with better lighting. But despite the cramped space, the animated crowd scenes with their wonderful folk-flavored dances in heels and boots gradually build up in the town square. The statues there differ from those in the Kirov version, focusing on David, slayer of Goliath. Another change has Juliet wearing a different cross around her neck with every formal gown, which Ulanova certainly did not.

How much the ''Romeo and Juliet'' of Kenneth Macmillan (1965) and John Cranko (1963) owe to Lavrovsky's Capulet ball is obvious. The Bolshoi wall tapestry depicts a Lady Godiva and three goddesses with three golden apples. (In 1992 the Kirov had Europa on her bull.) Whatever the decor, the overall dramatic effect is stunning, opening on a banquet with Tybalt atop a table and lounging courtiers. This bacchanalian decadence is then channeled into the famous dance with the cushions. The Capulets advance, holding pillows, kneel on them and grab their partners in a passionate embrace.

Ms. Ananiashvili and Mr. Uvarov, as well as Maria Alexandrova and Sergei Filin, who lead the classical divertissements at the ball and Act III, are outstanding dancers. Nikolai Tsiskaridze's charismatic Mercutio and Dmitri Belogovtsev's aptly hardened Tybalt rounded out a fine cast of principals. Yet they act like contemporary dancers everywhere, and Lavrovsky's ''Romeo and Juliet'' is very special. To move from position to position in a duet is not its style. It is a danced play that requires no break in style.

To be touched by Ms. Ananiashvili's performance was easy: It is filled with intelligence and nuance, a Juliet who is overtaken by events and deeply in love. That she dominates the ballet, overshadowing her Romeo, is not a surprise.

Alexander Kopylov conducted the Kennedy Center ochestra: it was too expensive to bring the Bolshoi's own to the tour, which includes Chicago (Tuesday through June 10), Seattle (June 14-1Cool, Los Angeles (June 21-25) and Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, Calif. (June 27 to July 2).
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