|Tereshkina and Kim and Shades|
I last saw the Mariinsky dance La Bayadere in full about 10 years ago. I remember Uliana Lopatkina was the Nikya and she was a delicate, fragile, sad creature. I remember her exquisitely tapered hands and feet, her peerless adagio work. I remember how her entire wedding dance was a song of grief, and her arching back seemed to scream "Feel my pain!" She was a special, one-of-a-kind dancer. But alas, she has retired. Viktoria Tereshkina's Nikya is so opposite from Lopatkina's that it might as well be a different ballet. I first saw her dance Nikya a few years ago with ABT but this performance with her home company was simply in a different league, simply because in the Mariinsky production she has more dancing to do than Makarova's streamlined version.
|Tereshkina and Kim, photo @ Dave Morgam|
Here is a clip that gives you an idea of the incredible strength of Tereshkina:
All this would be for naught if it didn't contribute to her portrayal of Nikya. But oh, it did. In this case, technique served artistry. Her strong technique allows her a certain freedom and boldness in her dancing that is immensely appealing. Tereshkina was the fiercest temple dancer I've ever seen. There was fire in her belly from the very first scene. In the wedding scene she rose on pointe, lifted her leg in a high unsupported arabesque pencheé and balanced without any difficulty. She seems to be showing off her strength to Solor, as if to say, "See? This is what you could have had." In the Shades scene her independence made her elusive, like something Solor could touch but never hold. This was not a forgiving spirit. One could easily imagine her destroying the temple in the 4th act which has been dropped from the Mariinsky version of the ballet.
Kimin Kim was just as impressive in terms of technique. He has amazing elevation and ballon and can do those famous double assembles en tournant with each one seeming higher than the last. Centered turns, pointed feet, an ability to get the crowd screaming with excitement. He's a decent partner too, and had no trouble with the lifts. His portrayal was a bit bland. I didn't feel Solor's torment at having to choose between Nikya and Gamzatti, nor his despair as he smoked opium to begin the Shades scene. But really, one can't complain about this quality of dancing.
|Matvienko and Kim, photo @ Jack Devant|
Anastasia Matvienko as Gamzatti is one of those dancers with perfectly acceptable technique, who doesn't take a wrong step, yet whose stage persona is simply not fierce enough to make the battle between Gamzatti and Nikya seem real. Tereshkina is so ferocious. If she's Bette Davis, she needed a Joan Crawford. She needed a Steph Curry to her Lebron James. A Frazier to her Ali. But Matvienko seemed only mildly perturbed by the actions onstage whether it was almost getting stabbed or watching her rival die. In the wedding pas de deux the Italian fouettés were a bit clunky but she got them done, and her single fouettés were very fast and centered.
Other shout-outs: May Nagahisa as a charming Manu, the three shades, all so proficient (Valeria Martynuk, Yana Selina and Anastasia Lukina), Roman Belyakov who made the slave duet with Tereshkina rather compelling (and it isn't always so). And of course, the life-blood of the Mariisnky: their unbeatable corps de ballet. In the Shades scene they were so calm, so eerily still, with nary a wobble in site, that the scene had a hypnotic beauty that simply isn't present in, say, the ABT's version. Just to see those 32 shades come down a double-sided ramp, one after another, in arabesque pencheé, and having them line up in those perfect rows, was worth the price of admission.