This is the place in Utah to see Russian ballet dancers in all their glory. Hardly a season has gone by since restrictions loosened up that the Weber series hasn't fielded at least one group of these talented dancers.
So much so, in fact, that the market seems to be a little saturated. Monday night's crowd was sparse, but those who stayed away were the losers, for this assortment of competition winners seems to deserve their laurels, forming a company that is technically strong, even spectacular, and dramatically viable. (One good thing glasnost is doing for Russia is thawing out the frozen faces of ballet dancers.)Their tried and true series of pas de deux could get boring. But though choreography and choices are predictable, the stage is bare and the canned music sometimes uninspired, no one loses interest during the 10 pas de deux, which show most dancers at least twice.
High point of the evening is the dashing "Don Quixote" grand pas de deux, brilliantly danced by Tatyana Chernobrovkina and Vadim Bondar - Moscow dancers not from the Bolshoi but rather with the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre.
Notable are the strong legs that give Bondar such verve in turns and jumps and allow Chernobrovkina 32 fouettes without seeming effort. But while they toss off this grand finale with elan, the duo also shines in the quieter charms of "Giselle," charged with classic poise and elegance.
An audience favorite for his cool aplomb in daring maneuvers, Bondar further shines in "Evening Dance" with Svetlana Smirnova, a "contemporary" piece set to music of Schubert. But Russians must go far to arrive at the world of modern dance. What passes with them for modern is mostly pretty, romantic fantasies such as this, where the choreography sometimes has awkwardly resolved sequences.
Chernobrovkina also dances a fine Swan Queen, unfailingly charged with the ethos of the role, along with Alexei Malykin, a tall young dancer of the Aleksandr Goudonov type.
Kirov stars Margarita Kullick and Vladimir Kim are fleet-footed and light-hearted, impressive in strength, facility and ability to woo an audience. They open with "Harlequinade," a commedia dell' arte entertainment of stylized, cleanly traced movement, smiles and charm, and continue with "Satanella," a Petipa choreography with Kullick as a witty, effervescent little devil.
Equally appealing are Maria Ivanova and Andrei Glazheider, also members of Moscow's Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater, which must be quite a threat to the Bolshoi Ballet, judging from these representatives.
Their lightness and communication, grace and facility carried them through a precise yet bravura Grand Pas Classique by Petipa, and they shine even more in the naive, light-footed pas from "La Sylphide," which teams a kilted Scotsman with a woodland nymph.
Rounding out the 10 dancers are Jana Kurova and Stanislav Fetcho of the Czechoslovakian National Theater, who bring playful charm yet strict discipline to the classic "La Peri" pas de deux, and make a good pass at interpreting the most genuinely modern piece on the program, "Ur," about the destruction of the Tower of Babel (choreographed, incidentally, by Kurova's father, Miroslav Kura.)