Russian Grand Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty

russianclassicalgrandballet_sleepingbeauty

When the words Russian and ballet are used in the same sentence, we expect something grand; the Russian Grand Ballet company’s recent performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty did not disappoint. Sets were beautiful, costumes stunning, and the dancing uniformly excellent. The Lilac Fairy, performed by Yulia Zakharenko, was especially exquisite. Very tall, taller than the princes, with elegant long arms and legs, she clearly was a prima ballerina and we thought we had seen the star. Only later when Olga Kifyak appeared as Princess Aurora, flawlessly performing the wonderful Rose Adagio, did we realize this company has at least two prima ballerinas, not to mention several others nearly as outstanding.

Most male dancers are there to accent the ballerinas, turn them gracefully, and most especially make sure they are not hurt (“Don’t drop the girl”!), but when Yevgeniy Svetlitsa came flying on stage as Prince Desire, it was clear he is a master of his art and a joy to behold. Now, to have one great male dancer is wonderful, but we were delighted again in a later pas de deux to see Constantine Mayorov performing similar excellent leaps and turns with precision and power.

Great ballet is a display of skill, strength, grace, and artistic sense that requires years of training and on-going practice. To see this familiar tale portrayed in dance to such wonderful music was a delight; all in all, an excellent night out. Our only complaint, our good old Pantages Theater in Tacoma, a classic building filled with faded elegance, needs new chairs. A short performance is fine, but full length performances are physically taxing; perhaps there is a rich patron in the audience somewhere who could do something about it.

If you wish to see beautiful dance at the highest level, consider The Russian Grand Ballet next time they come to America. Alas, you have missed them for this year. They are headed home after a tour that lasted from Sept 20th through Oct 29th–36 performances all over the country, with only 4 days off, a grueling schedule. But then again, they are dancers. I have had the pleasure of associating at least somewhat with dancers and musicians, artists and actors, my entire adult life. Dancers in particular often display an interesting pattern–they may practice all day and perform all evening, then for relaxation have a nice meal and do what? Go dancing!

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