by Vicki Crain
American Ballet Theater principal dancer David Hallberg made international news in the fall of 2011 when he was asked to join the illustrious Bolshoi Ballet as a premiere danseur, the first American ever invited to join the company. One of his first performances in Russia’s newly renovated Moscow Theatre was also filmed for live cinema simulcasts around the globe. This updated version of Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty features new choreography by Yuri Grigorovich with The Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s famous score.
According to Sergei L. Loiko of The Los Angeles Times, who covered the performance from Moscow, seven cameras filmed the Sunday performance that had the estimated audience of 1,750 in the theater giving a rousing standing ovation. Gorgeous shots of the ornate theater and behind-the-scenes takes from conductor’s view in the orchestra pit create the sense that you are there. Nobody does grandeur quite like the Bolshoi and the lavish sets and costumes, as well as the enormous cast of dancers, are on full golden display here. Even the dramatic tension of the story was heightened by the ultra-slow tempo of the music.
Prima ballerina Svetlana Zakharova (Princess Aurora) handpicked Hallberg to be her Prince Désiré. With long, lean limbs, high-arched feet and exquisite lines and extensions, these two are a match made in ballet heaven. Zakharova’s beautiful, relaxed upper body port de bras are at times defied by the sheer height of her extensions. Her full-split developé a la secondé makes The Rose Adage, albeit extremely slow, inherently more exciting to watch. Hallberg’s entrance solo in Act II is exciting and brilliantly executed. As he finishes, there is a millisecond pause/glitch in the dvd before the audience erupts in applause, as if even the film crew knew they were witnessing history. Bravura solos and effortless partnering make this pair irresistible to watch.
Classic storytelling with technically dazzling dancing make this dvd a must-see. Standouts in the stellar cast are Nina Kaptosova and Artem Ovcharenko as Princess Florine and the Bluebird, Maria Allash and her liquid bourrees as the Lilac Fairy and Alexey Loparevich (in drag) as the evil fairy Carabosse.
Run time: 138 minutes
BIO: Reviewer Vicki Crain is the voice behind Rogue Ballerina, an excellent blog that covers the Chicago-area dance scene. Check out her site for interviews, previews, reviews and more, and follow her on Twitter at @rogueballerina