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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Touring 'Kirov' Ballet Dances on Past Glory

NEW YORK -- The Russians are coming, and as this season suggests, they will keep on coming.


A touring unit that is more or less aptly called Stars of the Kirov Ballet featured the charismatic Farukh Ruzimatov, the assertive Yuliya Makhalina and the sublime Zhanna Ayupova along with some unfamiliar long-haired youngsters on Sunday afternoon at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts.


Like the inaccurately labeled Stars of the Bolshoi, which last year barely included current Bolshoi dancers, this group, which uses the more familiar Soviet-era name of Kirov rather than Mariinsky, the St. Petersburg theater's new name, is on the Columbia Artists touring circuit. Whether outright tacky production values and one-night (or one-afternoon) stands can present such dancers at their best is not even debatable.


But a nostalgic public starved for the glory years of Soviet ballet is obviously willing to excuse even such touring on the cheap, especially when haggling over fees continues between U.S. opera houses and the full Kirov and Bolshoi companies.


That hard currency is a prime motive for Russian dancers (or their company managements) to strike out on their own is a given. But eventually they and their U.S. promoters will have to vary the same "concert program" of excerpts and brief entries that is repeatedly presented on such tours.


Even the more high-powered group from both the Kirov and the Bolshoi that is to perform, under different auspices, on Nov. 17 at the New York State Theater in tribute to Serge Diaghilev has plenty of old chestnuts. For something different, one may have to wait until Feb. 25 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, when the Vaganova Academy, the Kirov school, makes its New York debut along with some recent alumni.


The program at Lehman College in the Bronx, which has certainly been host to better-produced dance attractions in the past, did at least allow one to catch up with new and familiar dancers at the Kirov.


Ruzimatov, who danced with American Ballet Theater after he shot to fame in the 1980s, was still in fine form for his trademark "Corsaire" pas de deux with Ms. Makhalina. Nor was his star presence diminished when he stood on his head with his back to the audience in a contemporary solo by Maurice Bejart. Like his fellow French choreographer Roland Petit, Bejart was the symbol of modernism, no matter how dated, for Soviet dancers starved for creativity until the 1990s. In the end, his inversion of classical line and style in the Mahler "Adagio" on this program becomes less important than his ability to create theatrical vehicles for idiosyncratic performers.


Although originally choreographed for the Bejart company's own star, Jorge Donn, "Adagio" looks as if it were created for Ruzimatov. There is no need to wonder why he hugs himself before a flex-footed pirouette. Choreographic logic yields to mood in Bejart's world, and as an alienated man who rises along with the music from a chair and finds inner joy, Ruzimatov was more than riveting. He was wiry, intense and resilient.


Absent from the Kirov full-company appearance at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1995, he has come back with some of the firebrand passion of his early days. The "Corsaire" he danced with Ms. Makhalina had the flamboyance of his turquoise harem pants but also a new attention to form, even in his high leaps.


Ms. Makhalina, once the Kirov's leading ballerina, exuded her usual glamour; a dancer of extremes who does not always pay attention to her feet, she made even better use of her harmonious upper body in the "Sleeping Beauty" pas de deux, partnered by a stalwart Viktor Baranov.


Ms. Ayupova, who was Baranov's ecstatic Juliet in the balcony pas de deux from Leonid Lavrovsky's "Romeo and Juliet," was again her exquisite self in an excerpt from "Giselle," where the young Ilya Kuznetsov, with his Prince Valiant blond locks, impressed with his intensity. By Anna Kisselgoff


THE NEW YORK TIMES


NEW YORK -- The Russians are coming, and as this season suggests, they will keep on coming.


A touring unit that is more or less aptly called Stars of the Kirov Ballet featured the charismatic Farukh Ruzimatov, the assertive Yuliya Makhalina and the sublime Zhanna Ayupova along with some unfamiliar long-haired youngsters on Sunday afternoon at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts.


Like the inaccurately labeled Stars of the Bolshoi, which last year barely included current Bolshoi dancers, this group, which uses the more familiar Soviet-era name of Kirov rather than Mariinsky, the St. Petersburg theater's new name, is on the Columbia Artists touring circuit. Whether outright tacky production values and one-night (or one-afternoon) stands can present such dancers at their best is not even debatable.


But a nostalgic public starved for the glory years of Soviet ballet is obviously willing to excuse even such touring on the cheap, especially when haggling over fees continues between U.S. opera houses and the full Kirov and Bolshoi companies.


That hard currency is a prime motive for Russian dancers (or their company managements) to strike out on their own is a given. But eventually they and their U.S. promoters will have to vary the same "concert program" of excerpts and brief entries that is repeatedly presented on such tours.


Even the more high-powered group from both the Kirov and the Bolshoi that is to perform, under different auspices, on Nov. 17 at the New York State Theater in tribute to Serge Diaghilev has plenty of old chestnuts. For something different, one may have to wait until Feb. 25 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, when the Vaganova Academy, the Kirov school, makes its New York debut along with some recent alumni.


The program at Lehman College in the Bronx, which has certainly been host to better-produced dance attractions in the past, did at least allow one to catch up with new and familiar dancers at the Kirov.


Ruzimatov, who danced with American Ballet Theater after he shot to fame in the 1980s, was still in fine form for his trademark "Corsaire" pas de deux with Ms. Makhalina. Nor was his star presence diminished when he stood on his head with his back to the audience in a contemporary solo by Maurice Bejart. Like his fellow French choreographer Roland Petit, Bejart was the symbol of modernism, no matter how dated, for Soviet dancers starved for creativity until the 1990s. In the end, his inversion of classical line and style in the Mahler "Adagio" on this program becomes less important than his ability to create theatrical vehicles for idiosyncratic performers.


Although originally choreographed for the Bejart company's own star, Jorge Donn, "Adagio" looks as if it were created for Ruzimatov. There is no need to wonder why he hugs himself before a flex-footed pirouette. Choreographic logic yields to mood in Bejart's world, and as an alienated man who rises along with the music from a chair and finds inner joy, Ruzimatov was more than riveting. He was wiry, intense and resilient.


Absent from the Kirov full-company appearance at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1995, he has come back with some of the firebrand passion of his early days. The "Corsaire" he danced with Ms. Makhalina had the flamboyance of his turquoise harem pants but also a new attention to form, even in his high leaps.


Ms. Makhalina, once the Kirov's leading ballerina, exuded her usual glamour; a dancer of extremes who does not always pay attention to her feet, she made even better use of her harmonious upper body in the "Sleeping Beauty" pas de deux, partnered by a stalwart Viktor Baranov.


Ms. Ayupova, who was Baranov's ecstatic Juliet in the balcony pas de deux from Leonid Lavrovsky's "Romeo and Juliet," was again her exquisite self in an excerpt from "Giselle," where the young Ilya Kuznetsov, with his Prince Valiant blond locks, impressed with his intensity.