Let us not exaggerate, but six stars seem to be in order. I have not known so euphoric an evening at the ballet for a long time: the audience agog; bursts of applause and gasps of amazement during solos; a delight in the dancing matched by a buoyant response from the stage; cheers, yet more cheers.
The occasion? The Bolshoi Ballet’s sunny production (by Alexey Fadeyechev) of that unlikely corner of old Spain, Don Quixote, with Natalia Osipova as Kitri – we rejoiced in her debut last year – and the 18-year-old wonderboy Ivan Vasiliev as her Basilio. And Pavel Sorokin taking the score at a spanking pace: no time for dither, but a spring to every step, the ensemble fired with joy.
No wonder we bayed for more, and gasped as Vasiliev did impossible things high in the air. Osipova spun and flashed over the stage, and raised the stakes with lighter and yet lighter and prettier leaps. That divinity Yuliana Malkhasyants tore into every known passion (and some I’d never heard of) in her Gypsy dance in Act 2.
To details: Osipova has breath- taking ballon, elevation and speed. The dance takes to the skies, races over the stage, its shape enhanced by the youthful freshness of her skills, its effects made vivid by her evident delight in bravura. Character is lovingly shown with a generosity of feeling, a delicious warmth of emotion. Not since Plisetskaya and Maximova have we seen so adorable a Kitri, and never one so divinely destined to claim the role as her own. This Kitri can do no wrong.
Vasiliev is young, of medium height, already phenomenal in elevation. (“Come down!” as his teachers said to the soaring Nijinsky.) He can pirouette for as long as he wishes. His line is clear; academic forms of dance are respected. He is ardent, eager, already an actor to charm us (and Kitri) and generous, in manner, in use of his skill. He faces the danger of turning into a “trick” dancer, of exhausting his gifts before they are matured. His salvation is that the Bolshoi has shown him how tricks may be turned into balletic and dramatic art. His Basilio is a happy, warm-hearted reading.
It was a glorious evening in every respect, and we owe profound thanks to everyone on stage. The Bolshoi owes it to posterity to film this cast in live performance.
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