Tour UK (Autumn 2004 - Winter 2005)

The Sleeping Beauty Review - 26 October 2004, Swansea

Strange end to a glorious Swan Lake - 26 October 2004, Bath

An enjoyable night with a much-loved classic - 27 October 2004, Bath

Flying high above the lake - 28 October 2004, Bath

Stylish Muscovites - 28 October 2004, Bath

Sleeping Beauty Moscow City Ballet Review - 29 October 2004, Bath

Swan Lake Moscow City Ballet Review - 30 October 2004, Bath

Dancer's control adds to musical treat - 30 October 2004, Bath

Sleeping Beauty Review - 2 November 2004, Bath

Fairy tale Beauty- 4 November 2004, Bath

A feast for eyes and ears - 5 November 2004, Bath

Review Moscow City Ballet - 5-14 November 2004, Bath

Breathtaking night of colourful dance - 11 November 2004, Truro

Yes Cinders, it was a ball - 23 November 2004, Halifax

Moscow City ballet@Theatre Royal - 31 January 2005, Nottingham

A dazzling Nutcracker - 22 February 2005, Stoke-on-Trent

 

"SIMPLY ENCHANTING"
Herald Express

Tour UK (Autumn 2003 - Winter 2004)

Swan Lake unruffled - 02 October 2003, Hull

Swan along to ballet- 08 October 2003, Hull

Sugar Plum Fairy missing from new Nutcracker ballet - 28 October 2003, Bath

Russian ballet a treat for all - 29 October 2003, Bath

Cracking good show - 29 October 2003, Bath

Sleeping Beauty - 05 November 2003, Leeds

Classical Ballet awash with talent - 13 November 2003, Canterbury

Russian Swans cast a powerful spell - 14 November 2003, Canterbury

Breathtaking skill, artistry, athleticism - 20 November 2003, Lowestoft

What ballet is all about - 4 December 2003, Milton Keynes

Swan Lake - Wycombe Swan - 9 December 2003, High Wycombe

 

Russian troupe make Cinders glow - 29 January 2004, Ipswich

Spirited show of real beauty - 3 February 2004, Nottingham

Prima puts rest in shade - 6 February 2004, Nottingham

Ballet night to remember - 6 February 2004, Nottingham

Outstanding performances captivate packed audience - 13 February 2004, Torquay

Magical fairytale brought to life - 13 February 2004, Torquay

Striking colour and costumes in Moscow's Sleeping Beauty - 17 February 2004, Woking

Ladies on the lake - 24 February 2004, Jersey

 

"SHEER PERFECTION"
Belfast Chronicle

Tour UK (Autumn 2002 - Winter 2003)

Giselle turns back time - 08 October 2002, Belfast

Sweetheart Giselle served with a twist - 09 October 2002, Belfast

Delightful confection - 11 October 2002, Belfast

The Russians are here to astound - 24 October 2002, Brighton

City ballet shows its effortless flair - 29 October 2002, Cambridge

REVIEWS DANCE - 06 November 2002, Glasgow

REVIEWS DANCE - 09 November 2002, Glasgow

Traditional Russian dancing at its best - 12 November 2002, Bath

Fairy tale magic keeps audience on its toes - 13 November 2002, Bath

Swan Lake is a mixed bag - 13 November 2002, Bath

The best in ballet - 14 November 2002, Bath

Smooth, but not so exciting - 14 November 2002, Bath

Ballet duo - 14 November 2002, Bath

Review - 15 November 2002, Bath

Small is beautiful as Russians get to the point with Tchaikovsky - 15 November 2002, Bath

Swan Lake is the perfect showcase - 19 November 2002, Aberdeen

Classical in every way - 19 November 2002, Aberdeen

The Magic of Swan Lake - 22 November 2002, Aberdeen

 

Moscow stars are on familiar ground - 7 January 2003, Blackpool

Cracker to lift bleak winter spirits - 13 January 2003, Blackpool

Moscow dancers weave fairy tale magic - 14 January 2003, Grimsby

Ballet a big hit at the box office - 24 January 2003, Lowestoft

Thrilling double from the world's top ballet - 31 January 2003, Lowestoft

Enchanting ballet never fails to enthral - 31 January 2003, Sothsea

Ballet that's a late Chritmas present - 05 February 2003, Poole

Dark dimension to a joyous ballet - 05 February 2003, Poole

REVIEW: The Nutcracker - 10 February 2003, Ipswich

Russian ballet company thrills packed house - 11 February 2003, Poole

Magic on the points - 14 February 2003, Halifax

 

"A FEAST OF WONDERFUL DANCING
BY A SUPERB COMPANY"
Kentish Gazette

Tour UK (Winter - Spring 2002)

Review Ballet - 29 January 2002, Stoke-on-Trent

Nutcracker is a ... er ... cracker! - 01 February 2002, Stoke-on-Trent

Moscow City Ballet "Cinderella" - 02 February 2002, Stoke-on-Trent

Children take pointers from professionals - 05 February 2002, Stoke-on-Trent

A graceful delight - 05 February 2002, Belfast

Timeless classic can still enchant - 07 February 2002, Belfast

Elegant swans, purple days - 11 February 2002, Belfast

Enough to banish winter blues - 12 February 2002, Chichester

Festive fantasy is a winner - 14 February 2002, Chichester

Spellbinding spectacle of Russian folktale - 21 February 2002, Milton Keynes

Review - 22 February 2002, Milton Keynes

Dance - 22 February 2002, Milton Keynes

Review - 26 February 2002, Norwich

Back to tradition - 07 March 2002, Woking

Review - 22 March 2002, Bromley

Style and substance - 27 March 2002, Canterbury

Reviews: Stomp Lake still a delight - 27 March 2002, Poole

A Russian fairytale - 03 April 2002, Brighton

Leaving Brighton on a high note - 10 April 2002, Brighton

Occasionally fluttering in pink - 12 April 2002,Richmond

Review - 01 May 2002, Richmond

 

"A GRACEFUL DELIGHT"
Belfast Telegraph

Tour UK (Winter - Spring 2001)

 

Beauty of City Ballet - 15 February 2001, Canterbury

From Russia... with love! - 15 February 2001, Milton Keynes

A Red riot of colourful Swans - 23 February 2001, Brighton

Russian rarity brings a lively splash of colour - 1 March 2001, Liverpool

Amazing grace - 1 March 2001, Richmond (preview)

Great drama on the lake - 9 March 2001, Richmond

Moscow's rich and traditional working of engaging ballet - 13 March 2001, Chichester

Classical ballet from classical company - 16 March 2001, Chichester (preview)

Swan Lake a classic start - 22 March 2001, Woking

Not the full monty but still superb - 3 April 2001, Newcastle

Review: The Sleeping Beauty - 14 April 2001, Stoke on Trent

Rapturous applause - 4 May 2001, High Wycombe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26 October 2004, South Wales Evening Post; Swansea - Grand Theatre

Review

Moscow City Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty

Swansea Grand Theatre

BALLET, in the same way as opera, is often perceived to be a "difficult" art form which appeals only to the privileged few - but productions such as this one, based upon the classic fairy tale and featuring music from Tchaikovskiy, do much to dispel such perceptions and to attract newcomers to the wonderful world of dance.
This was a delightful and wholly triumphant production, in which a large and youthful company of dancers excelled, demonstrating their skills against some spectacular backdrops, and accompanied by the Moscow City Ballet orchestra under the baton of conductor Igor Shavruk.
It's always good to see such a large and expectant audience at the Grand, and the crowd were rewarded with one of the most positive and thrilling experiences to have played at the venue for quite a while.
Dance fans will have a chance to savour the talents of Swansea's own Ballet Russie when the company performs The Nutcracker on Sunday December 5.

- GW .

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26 October 2004, The Bath CHRONICLE; Bath - Theatre Royal

Strange end to a glorious Swan Lake

Swan Lake Moscow City Ballet Theatre Royal Bath

Moscow City Ballet's performance last night of Swan Lake, that much loved tale from ballet's golden era, was an impressive start to their week at Bath's Theatre Royal.
From the initial lead-in by the clarinet, followed by the oboe and strings, Tchaikovskiy's lovely score is full of hummable melodies, lots of tum-ti-tums and nothing too taxing for the audience.
The curtain rises and we are swept off to a land of fairytales - the court has gathered to celebrate prince Siegfried's 21st; a jester (Dmitry Shchemelinin) is master of ceremonies, buzzing about, just about landing where he should and Siegfried's best friend Benno, a lissom performance by Sergey Zolotarev, is introducing young totty to the scene, for the prince must marry.
It gives the corps de ballet score to show off its sparkling skills and a jolly time is had by all.
Siegfried (Mikhail Mikhailov) arrives, a suitably handsome prince, technically at ease with his role.
Act Two and Siegfried catches sight of Odette, Queen of the Swans, with her entourage of little swans.
Now, we all recognise that Bath has a gem of a theatre, but the stage is small. When there are 26 gorgeous creatures in stiff white tutus bent on fitting in all the pas de chats they are called to execute, then you begin to hold your breath - perhaps more sardines than swans.
Yet the classy technicality of this corps de ballet is such that each member coped brilliantly within the limitations of the stage - not a step out of place, plus a faultless Dance of the Little Swans.
Odette (Tatiana Krasnova and Siegfried looked suitably enamoured with each other, he lifting her with ease, she as fragile as swansdown.
Adel Kinzikeev made a wonderfully malevolent Von Rothbart, a supple, powerful performance, enchanced by the hissing dry ice effects from the wings.
The curtain drops at the end of the second act, with an eerie mist hanging over the lake.
As Odette's alter ego Odile in Act Three, Krasnova is at home with her jerky, brittle movements contrasting with the innocent, fresh-faced prince adoration.
The ballet ends with the hope of salvation for the lovers, yet the audience had to be satisfied with only the two principal dancers, Von Rothbart, the jester and the swan corps de ballet taking a bow. how strange... perhaps we should ask the artistic director, Victor Smirnov, where everyone else was? That apart, it was a triumphant evening of traditional ballet at its finest.
You can see Swan Lake again tonight and tomorrow and Tchaikovskiy's Sleeping Beauty on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Nicola Cunningham.

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27 October 2004, Bristol Evening Post; Bath - Theatre Royal

An enjoyable night with a much-loved classic

Review

Moscow City Ballet presents Swan Lake: Bath Theatre Royal.
Technically, this was as nice a production of Swan Lake as I have seen in some time.
It was expertly choreographed, making excellent use of the not over-large Theatre Royal stage, and a beautifully disciplined corps de ballet.
Under Igor Shavruk's sympathetic baton, the orchestra was finely balanced and completely supportive. Costumes were colorful and attractive, as were the simple but effective sets.
At the heart of the production was Tatiana Krasnova, a dancer who combined delicacy with a strong accuracy of step that made the characters of Odette-Odile very distinctive, sending out clear-cut messages of love and impending tragedy.
Mikhail Mikhailov's Prince Siegfried presented her to very good effect, but that spark that brings alive with dramatic intensity the magic of their relationship spluttered into life only occasionally.
Similarly, for all his eye-catching commitment, Adel Kinzikeev's Von Rothbart was short on menace and underlying sense of evil. There were some lovely contributions from Sergey Zolotarev, Maya Vichniakova and Evgeniya Bespalova as the courtier Benno and his lady loves.
This was an immensely enjoyable production of a much-loved classic but one in which you felt many of those concerned were playing a little too safe.
The production can bee seen again this evening and Sleeping Beauty is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

GERRY PARKER.

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28 October 2004, Western Daily Press; Bath - Theatre Royal

Flying high above the lake

Swan lake, Moscow City Ballet, Theatre Royal, Bath

Swan Lake is such a classic in the ballet repertoire and such a favourite with so many it's easy for companies to get it horribly wrong.
Theatre Royal Bath was packed with an audience eager to see this tale of love, sorcery and treachery performed by such a renowed company as Moscow City Ballet. Luckily, despite a somewhat slow start, it did not disappoint.
The company stuck to the basics with a beautifully painted set and stunning costumes, which made an enchanting backdrop for the superb corps de ballet and principal dancers.
Tatiana Krasnova was an outstanding odette/Odile. Opposite her, Mikhail Mikhailov playing prince Siegfried danced well but lacked charisma. Tchaikovskiy's glorious score was beautifully played by the Company's orchestra, conducted by Igor Shavruk.
Moscow City Ballet performs Sleeping Beauty tonight, tomorrow and Saturday.

SUSIE WELDON.

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28 October 2004, Gazette; Bath - Theatre Royal

Stylish Muscovites

Swan Lake Moscow City Ballet Bath Theatre Royal

MOSCOW City Ballet has become a favourite in britian where it has now been making regular tours for 14 years.
Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, the artistic director and his wife Ludmila Nerubashenko, principal ballet mistress, have built a richly talented company, which has only a handful of designed soloists but strong enoughresources in the corps de ballet to entrust leading roles to its members.
They have chosen the ever popular Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty for their week at Bath, both with Tchaikovskiy's immortal music.
They began with Swan lake - Sleeping Beauty is later in the week.
I don't think anyone will be disappointed with this interpretation. It's classical, not particularly innovative but there is great attention to detail, not least among the corps de ballet who were perfectly disciplined both while dancing and resting as an audience for the soloists.
Tatiana Krasnova Tatiana Krasnova is breathtaking in the leading dual role of Odette/Odile, Queen of the swans and bewitched princess. She is bird-like and lyrical in her movements while executing extremely difficult technical choreography. She makes the transformation from the languid and sad Odette to the seductive Odile exquisitely.
As Prince Siegfried, Mikhail Mikhailov is less spectacular but he is expressive in his gestures.
Two of the most Two of the most entertaining soloists are normally members of the corps de ballet.
Adel Kinzikeev is the evil von Rothbart, lithe, athletic and almost pantomimic in his triumph. He has all the abilities of a principal dancer.
Another from Another from the ranks who works well as a soloist is the jester, Dmitry Shchemelinin. He is an important light relief in an overall rather solemn cast. He is also used imaginatively to lead in the key soloists.
The male corps de ballet was initially a touch ragged, but later they were as finely tuned as their female counterparts, whose footwork and timing and cohesion could not be faulted.
But the men later pulled themselves together to be as eyecatching as their female counterparts, whose footwork and timing and cohesion could netbe faulted.
The costumes however are superb, especially in the national groups at the Prince's ball.
The only jarring The only jarring note in the opening performance was from a few members of the audience, one moving from her seat extremely noisily in the middle of a particularly moving solo from Tatiana Krasnova and two more returning inexcusably late to their seats in the middle of row after the interval. Who let them back in?

Jo Bayne.

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29 October 2004, Bath Chronicle; Bath - Theatre Royal

Sleeping Beauty Moscow City Ballet Theatre Royal, Bath

Review

The Moscow City Ballet company had much to live up to last night.
It had completed a miraculous three-night run of Tchailovskiy's Swan Lake and now turned to the composer's other gem, Sleeping Beauty.
It did not disappoint.
An expectant hush fell as the curtains rose and the magical Lilac Fairy (Gulnur Sarsenova) - the one who saves the day, the princess and the kingdom - set the tone for the performance.
Shadowed by eerie lighting she appeared like a wisp under gossamer sets until the christening of Princess Aurora took centre stage.
Aurora (Tatiana Krasnova), as the tale goes, is the one cursed by the Fairy Carabosse, who is angry after her invite to the christening bash got lost in the post.
Within moments the stage was positively heaving with dancers and spectacle was dazzling. Without doubt, even those who may have known little about ballet would have dubbed Sleeping Beauty a corker.
The costumes were eye-wateringly fabulous and as the audience was swept into Act Two and knight-in-shining-armour Prince Florimund arrived with his hunting party and pursed lips, the excitement was unstopable. Florimund (Mikhail Mikhailov) fulfilled all the leaping and bounding expectations of the ardent ballet-goer. All skill, sinew and physical presence.
Slightly pantomime-ish at times, as when Carabosse (Dmitry Puzyrev) is carted off stage by her minions evoking booing laughter from the audience, Sleeping Beauty was still faultless.
You can see the performance again tonight and tomorrow.

Rachael Sugden.

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30 October 2004, Bath Chronicle; Bath - Theatre Royal

Swan Lake Moscow City Ballet Theatre Royal Bath

Review

Moscow City Ballet's performance lasr night of Swan Lake, thayt much loved take from ballet's golden era, was an impressive start to their week at Bath's Theatre Royal.
From the initial lead-in by the clarinet, followed by the oboe and strings, Tchaikovskiy's lovely score is full of hummable melodies, lots of tum-ti-tams and nothing too taxing for the audience.
We were swept off to a land of fairytales as the court has gathered to celebrate Prince Siegfied's 21st. it gives the corps de ballet scope to show off its sparkling skills and a jolly time is had by all.
In Act Two, Siegfried catches sight of Odette, Queen of the Swans, with her entourage of little swans. Bath has a gem of a theatre, but the stage is small. When there are 26 gorgeous creatures in stiff white tutus you begin to hold your breath - perhaps more sardines than swans.
As the ballet ended the audience had to be satisfied with only the two principal dancers, Von Rothbart, the jester and the swan corps de ballet taking a bow. How strange... perhaps we should ask the artistic director, Victor Smirnov, where everyone was?
That apart, it was a triumphant evening of traditional ballet at its finest.

Nicola Cunningham.

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30 October 2004, Bristol Evening Post; Bath - Theatre Royal

Dancer's control adds to musical treat

Review

Theatre Royal, Bath: Victor Hochhauser presents Moscow City Ballet in Sleeping Beauty.
It may seem strange to praise a dancer's stillness but the manner in which Tatiana Krasnova held positions prior to and at the end of movements, was a delight to the eye.
It was like gazing on a series of beautiful sculpted statues who, like Pygmalion's Galatea, had been brought to life.
Tatiana Krasnova's strength and control as princess Aurora contrasted admirably with some of the more flamboyant actions of the fun-loving fairy tale characters, exellent pas de quatre and Dmitry Puzyrev's larger than life evil fairy Carabosse.
This is very much a ballet where the hero Prince Florimund has to take second place to the heroine.
Without ever diminishing his importance in the story, or missing out on solo opportunities, Mikhail mikhailov did this with expert judgement.
When he and the princess
gulnur Sarsenova also showed good judgement as the good Lilac Fairy.
Acting at times like a narrator, she linked the story with charm and grace.
There were plenty of these qualities to be found in her fellow fairies with an added underlying sense of humour lurking just below the surface.
Eliza Veta Dvorkina's attractive costumes added to the visual enjoyment and musically, under the guidance of conductor Igor Shavruk, the orchestra ensured that we enjoyed Tchaikovskiy's lovely music as much as the company enjoyed dancing to it.

GERRY PARKER.

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2 November 2004, The Bath Alternative; Bath - Theatre Royal

A classical triumph

Sleeping Beauty
Moscow City Ballet
Bath Theatre Royal


There was more than a touch of pantomime albeit far more elegant in the Russian ballet company's second offering of last week, Sleeping Beauty.
In fact the man sitting next to me thought he'd come to see Cinderella also in this company's touring repertoire, but not at Bath and spent the first halt expecting the ugly sisters to appear until he realised his mistake.
But Puss in Boots, a white cat, Red Riding Hood, the Wolf and a pair of blue birds all make an appearance, and the character dancing, especially by the cats, Tatiana Kartushina and Kirill Kasatkin, was sharp and amusing.
Tatiana Krasnova and Mikhail Mikhailov again danced the lead roles. Ms Krasnova was unfailingly perfectly poised, delicate, and a delight to watch as the princess.
Her partner had fewer chances to shine as a soloist, but was superb in a supporting role and while he coped with some technically very difficult choreography competently he lacked fluidity.
The evil fairy, called Carabosse in the Russian version, was wonderfully portrayed by Dmitry Puzyrev. With the aid of a fabulous blue and silver cloak he contrived to make himself grow taller or shrink into the ground.
He had the aid of vividly imaginative choreography, accompanied by six black devils who were equally enthusiastic and energetic as they twirled themselves into a menacing cabal.
The size limitations of the Theatre Royal stage manifested themselves as members of the corps de ballet squeezed themselves around the edges as an audience for the principals. Sometimes all that could be seen was an extended arm through the drapery, which was unintentionally comic.
Well trained and attractive though the corps de ballet is, one wonders if it might not be more sensible to trim the number of dancers in such circumstances.
The costumes, by Elizaveta Dvorkina, were as ever stunning and the set, a series of different painted backdrops was breathtaking in fairy tale fashion.
The lighting left a little to be desired, occasionally switching from subtle moody shades to very bright, abruptly.
It may have been intended, it was difficult to tell.
___Igor Shavruk was in charge of a splendid orchestra, and Tchaikovsky's music, with particularly appealing cello and harp soloists.
If you missed the company in Bath it is touring Britain until next March and it is worth catching up with. Some of the dancers are clearly very young, and very talented and can only get better and better. There is enthusiasm and energy in abundance from each member of the corps de ballet to the principals.

Jo Bayne.

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4 November 2004, Wiltshire Gazette & Herald; Bath - Theatre Royal

Fairy tale Beauty

Sleeping Beauty
Moscow City Ballet
Bath Theatre Royal


There was more than a touch of pantomime albeit far more elegant in the Russian ballet company's second offering of last week, Sleeping Beauty.
In fact the man sitting next to me thought he'd come to see Cinderella also in this company's touring repertoire, but not at Bath and spent the first halt expecting the ugly sisters to appear until he realised his mistake.
But Puss in Boots, a white cat, Red Riding Hood, the Wolf and a pair of blue birds all make an appearance, and the character dancing, especially by the cats, Tatiana Kartushina and Kirill Kasatkin, was sharp and amusing.
Tatiana Krasnova and Mikhail Mikhailov again danced the lead roles. Ms Krasnova was unfailingly perfectly poised, delicate, and a delight to watch as the princess.
Her partner had fewer chances to shine as a soloist, but was superb in a supporting role and while he coped with some technically very difficult choreography competently he lacked fluidity.
The evil fairy, called Carabosse in the Russian version, was wonderfully portrayed by Dmitry Puzyrev. With the aid of a fabulous blue and silver cloak he contrived to make himself grow taller or shrink into the ground.
He had the aid of vividly imaginative choreography, accompanied by six black devils who were equally enthusiastic and energetic as they twirled themselves into a menacing cabal.
The size limitations of the Theatre Royal stage manifested themselves as members of the corps de ballet squeezed themselves around the edges as an audience for the principals. Sometimes all that could be seen was an extended arm through the drapery, which was unintentionally comic.
Well trained and attractive though the corps de ballet is, one wonders if it might not be more sensible to trim the number of dancers in such circumstances.
The costumes, by Elizaveta Dvorkina, were as ever stunning and the set, a series of different painted backdrops was breathtaking in fairy tale fashion.
The lighting left a little to be desired, occasionally switching from subtle moody shades to very bright, abruptly.
It may have been intended, it was difficult to tell.
___Igor Shavruk was in charge of a splendid orchestra, and Tchaikovsky's music, with particularly appealing cello and harp soloists.
If you missed the company in Bath it is touring Britain until next March and it is worth catching up with. Some of the dancers are clearly very young, and very talented and can only get better and better. There is enthusiasm and energy in abundance from each member of the corps de ballet to the principals.

Jo Bayne.

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5 November 2004, The Bath Alternative; Bath - Theatre Royal

A feast for eyes and ears

Sleeping Beauty
Moscow City Ballet
Theatre Royal Bath


The moment the orchestra began to tune-up the anticipation began. There's some particular theatre magic in hearing a few strings and then a deeper notes of an oboe and when the performance started I would have defied anyone not to recognise some of Tchaikovskiy's music.
From the exquisite dancing of the fairies to the comical facial expression of Catalabutte, the master of ceremonies at Princess Aurora's christening, Sleeping Beauty was an evening of visual splendour.
We all know this fairy tale and it was easily recognised for the non-ballet goer. From the fairies' dance offering their gifts to the baby to the scary moment when Carabosse - the uninvited fairy - and her entourage appear vowing Aurora will die, we all knew what was happening. All helped, of course, by magnificent costumes as expected of a royal court.
Carabosse was excellent. This tiny bent old hag, sweeping and swirling her black and silver cloak around gave a threatening performance and brought hisses from the audience.
In act Two the prince finds his princess, the court comes to life and celebrations begin. I particularly liked Red Riding Hood and the Wolf - Red Ridding Hood showed real fear in her dancing as the scheming wolf leaped and prowled around.
This comparatively new company's aim is to bring ballet to as wide an audience as possible - as newcomers to ballet ourselves we found it a fine evening's entertainment.

Rita Sangster.

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5-14 November 2004, VENUE Bristol & Bath's Magazine; Bath - Theatre Royal

Review Moscow City Ballet

 

The great thing about Moscow City Ballet is that they are, above all, a company. Watching them move seamlessly around the limited confines of the Theatre Royal's stage with confidence and grace during the course of their impressive "Swan Lake" empasised to what extent this is an ensamble piece, something in which everyone has to pull their weight. Simularity, the fact that they can pluck dancers from the corps de ballet to fill the vital roles of Von Rothbart, the evil sorcerer, and the Jester 9danced with great gusto by Adel Kinzikeev and Dmitri Shemelinin respectively) shows their strength in depth-no-one looking out of their depth even with the centre-stage roles thrust upon them. Victor Smirnov-Golovanov's staging of this classic battle between good and evil is visually strong, with the half-white, half-balck tutu of the impostor odile being used to great effect when she-s trying to convince Prince Siegfired that she is his beloved swan princess, odette. At its heart, though, this is a love story. Mikhail Mikhailov may not be the most technically brilliant of Siegfrieds, but you are never in any doubt of his devotion to the ensnared Odette. In the dual role of odette/Odile, Tatiana Krasnova brings a painful fragility to the former that is matched by the cruel strength of the latter. A fine performance from a likeable company. (Lesley Barnes).

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11 November 2004, West Briton; Truro - Hall for Cornwall

Moscow City Ballet wows audiences with The Sleeping Beauty

Breathtaking night of colourful dance

SUCH is the reputation of Russian classical ballet that you expect to be treated to an evening of utter enchantment when one of that country's premier touring companies comes to these shores.
And that is exactly what sell-out audiences at the Hall for Cornwall got last week when the Moscow City Ballet returned in triumph to perform their truly spellbinding production of The Sleeping Beauty.
The fairytale of princess Aurora pricking her finger and falling asleep for a hundred years until being awoken by a prince's kiss has become familiar territory since it was first performed in 1890. But there can have been few more opulent stagings of the ballet than that on show last week.
The stage at the Hall was filled with breathtakingly colourful costumes and sets throughout the production from the opening party for Aurora's christening through the celebrations for her 16th birthday to her wedding to the handsome prince at the joyful end.
The dancing, of course, was sheer perfection, with the ensemble pieces featuring the corps de ballet a masterpiece of flowing movement and precision timing.
But it is the principal dancers who are the stars of the show and all were uniformly excellent, with none better than Natalia Padalko in the title role.
Encouraged by artistic director Victor Smirnov-Golovanov and his wife, principal ballet mistress Ludmila Nerubashenko, all the artists are given the opportunity to define their own character interpretations and Miss Padalko brought just the right delicacy and lightness to her role as the young and innocent princess.
Her technique was faultless, the highlight being the arabesques she performed during the scene with her four suitors at the birthday party. This most difficult of movements required here to balance on her toes as each suitor came to take her hand and was performed with masterly technique - not even the merest suspicion of a wobble.
Talgat Kozhabayev as the handsome Prince Florimund gave a thrilling display of jumps and spins in one of the many "party pieces" the choreography allowed the principals throughout the evening. But just as impressive was his support for Miss Padalko in the beautiful pas de deux they performed together in the wedding scene. There were several other lovely performances, but perhaps the most extraordinary of all came from Dmitry Puzyrev as the evil fairy Carabosse, scuttling round the stage like a demented rat with six henchmen castings a wicked spell over the birthday celebrations.
Other fairytale characters added to the magical tone of the production a series of beautifully enacted dances as they came to pay their respects to the happy couple at the concluding wedding celebrations.
It was a suitable finale to an evening of sheer enjoyment, with the dancers perfectly supported by their own orchestra under the direction of igor Shavruk.
One can only hope that the huge ovation they received at the end will lead to a return visit, one that ballet lovers in Cornwall will certainly not want to miss.

Suzanne Rutter.

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23 November 2004, Evening Courier; Halifax - Victoria Theatre

Yes Cinders, it was a ball

 

ONE of the world's leading ballet companies, the Moscow City Ballet, made a welcome return to Calderdale last night.
With a wicked stepmother, scheming sisters and a dashing prince, not forgetting the all-important happy ending, this traditional Russian version of the classic fairytale was danced beautifully to Prokofiev's rich score, provided by the ballet's own orchestra.
Underlining wonderful performances last year in Halifax, Cinderella proved an elegant feast of colour, spectacle and excitement.
The Moscow City Ballet has 12 male dancers, which ensures the female dancers don't steal the show. The pompous king, wicked stepmother and spiteful sisters, Dumpy and Skinny, were particularly strong characters.
Costumes worn by Cinderella, the seasonal fairies and the fairy godmother were designed by natalie Pavago to create an elaborate mass of beautiful and brightly coloured tones. Compared to the slightly ludicrous gold leggings worn by much of the male cast, the costumes offered an eye-catching spectacle of glitter and elegance.
They contrasted nicely with the simple and unobtrusive, if slightly flimsy, set design which resembled a Blue Peter masterpiece rather than that of a professional stage outfit.
There is a huge emphasis on comedy value, which provided a welcome source of relief from romantic tone of prince Charming and Cinderella's scenes.
Some of the comedy scenes were genuinely funny, such as when the evil stepmother and the ugly quarrel over their tacky ball gowns.
The show had a sense of finesse and professionalism which prevented any real disappointment. The principal dancers, performances really shone through and the well-known story is told seamlessly. The only downfall to the production is that some of the scenes, particularly the prince's ball, were far too long.
The essential ballet for Christmas., The Nutcracker, will also be performed by the company tonight and tomorrow.
Underlined by Tchaikovsky's powerful score, it promises to be a feast for both the eyes and ears.
Featuring popular characters such as the Mouse King and the Nutcracker Prince, this magical ballet should allow the talents of the soloists to shine through.

Suzanne Rutter.

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31 January 2005, BBC Nottingham - Theatre Royal

A dazzling Nutcracker

Once upon a time every boy wanted to be a train driver, every girl a ballerina...

It's not difficult to see why the latter should be true. Classical ballet seems impossibly elegant, poised and perfect and it's one of the few areas of life where the ladies get top billing.
Moscow City Ballet has been touring the world since 1991, clocking up nearly 1,900 performances, bringing the best-known productions to places which might otherwise have remained tutu-free.
Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty keeps the bare bones of the story, which for those who have spent too much time with the computer games, involves a princess being the victim of a witch's spell.
When she jabs herself with a needle, she falls into a hundred years sleep, to be woken up by obligatory handsome prince 100 years later.
Moscow City Ballet has made a success of giving people what they want. This is a straight down the line production with luscious costumes, colourful sets and plentiful dancers.
It has everything you associate with ballet, the sparkles, the twirls and the awesomely tight tights. The bad are dark and ugly, the good pink and frilly.
But Sleeping Beauty is the least impressive of Tchaikovsky's ballets, simply not having the same number of good tunes as either Swan Lake or The Nutcracker.
And surprisingly, the paper-thin plot really does make a difference, making it harder to forget the basic silliness of everyone bouncing up and down.
From a distance ballet is gossamer grace but get too close and you see the quivering muscles, panting chests.
The sheer physical endurance displayed is impressive not least maintaining the same cast iron smiles for so long but it takes much of the magic away.
And Moscow City Ballet conjures up the magic only sporadically, the wobbles coming too often, the enchantment too rarely.

Greig Watson.

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22 February 2005, THE SENTINEL; Stoke-on-Trent - The Regent Theatre

A dazzling Nutcracker

 

Moscow City ballet's dazzling production of The Nutcracker, which opened at the Regent Theatre in Hanley last night, is the stuff that dreams are made of.
It has breathtaking costumes and scenery, the choreography is terrific, and Tchaikovsky's hypnotic music never fails to exert its old familiar spell.
The drama is strongly emphasised, too, and no matter how many times you might have seen The Nutcracker, this is one you will remember.
From the very first scene, where an enormous Christmas tree dominates the set as the children receive presents and the adults don masks, the pace never falters. Sometimes the atmosphere grows sinister, and even threatening - the triple-headed Mouse King, with his glowing eyes, is a truly terrifying figure. And the duels involving the Nutcracker Doll are intensely realistic.
The Second Act is much more gentle and relaxing with its flower fairies and their well-loved dances, and it comes as quite a relief.
The names of the principals can have little meaning outside Russia, but it has to be said that Tatiana Krasnova, as Clara, and Mikhail Mikhailov, as the Nutcracker Prince, dominate the action; Clara is rarely off stage. Drosselmeyer, played by Gennadiy Batalov, makes a scary magician and must also be mentioned.
The piece is choreographed after the famous original of Petipa, so there are no shocks, but the acrobatics of the entire enormous cast - including the corps de ballet - are simply amazing. Only the russians could do The Nutcracker like this.
Tchaikovskiy's extraordinarily effective but always uncomplicated score comes over well, and again it takes a Russian orchestra to interpret tchaikovsky as he should be interpreted. So there you have it: a properly produced Nutcracker with all its fairytale atmosphere and occasional darker overtones, which looked especially good on the huge stage of the Regent. It has something for all ages, and it would be a dull man, woman or child who could resist its charms.
The Nutcracker continues at the Regent tonight and tomorrow night, starting at 8pm, with a matinee tomorrow at 2:30pm, and with any luck, to add to the fun, it will be snowing as you leave the theatre and begin your trek home.

Eric Snape.

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29 January 2004, East Anglian Daily Times; Ipswich - Regent Theatre

Russian troupe make Cinders glow

 

BREEDING shows. At least it does in the ballet world. The impeccable Russian schooling of this talented young company from Moscow shines in every step they take.
On a cold winter's night, the Regent audience gave the warmest of receptions to the opening performance by Moscow City Ballet, a production choreographed by the company's director; Victor Smirnov - Golovanov, of Prokofiev's magical Cinderella.
The version British ballet-goers are most familiar with is Frederick Ashton's setting for the Royal Ballet, which owes much to the Christmas pantomime tradition and has the ugly sisters played by men dolled up like grotesque panto dames. This distinctly Russian version of the fairy tale has the two sisters played by pretty girls whose ugliness is on the inside only. They are silly and spiteful, while much of the comedy is left to their social climbing mother, the high-kicking Ekaterina Tikhonova, flirting first with the Minister of Dancing and then with the spring-heeled King (Guerman Blagoveshenskiy).
The costumes are extremely colourful, and the attractive set, dominated by an ornate golden clock face, makes the perfect backdrop for a magnificent display of classical dance.
Principal ballerina Elena Osokina is a delightful Cinders; fragile and touching as the down-trodden skivvy, radiant and assured as ballroom princess. The transformation gives her every opportunity to show off her fine-limbed elegance, in her sparkling solos and in the dreamy duet with her Prince, Talgat Kozhabaev. He, too, has a strong technique, and together they bring off some amazing overhead lifts. I thought sometimes, however, that the confines of the Regent stage were cramping his style.
There is dancing of the highest quality, too, from Cinderella's fairy godmother (Tatiana Krasnova) and her graceful attendants, the Fairies of the Four Seasons, as well as the fleet-footed members of the King's cabinet, the Ministers for Dance, Music, Poetry and Art.
It was a real bonus to have a live orchestra and, under the direction of Igor Shavruk, Prokofiev's astringent, spiky score was played with tremendous flair by the National Ballet Orchestra.
It is wonderful music, particularly the giddy waltz that propels Cinderella towards the fateful midnight hour.
It is a long time since our native companies have had the resources to visit cultural outposts like Ipswich with major touring productions and Moscow City Ballet fill a vitally important gap.
Long may it continue.

James Hayward.

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03 February 2004, Evenung Post: Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Spirited show of real beauty

Moscow City Ballet, proudly adhering to the values that helped forge classical ballet in the 19th Century, performs this portion memorably.
Talgat Kozhabaev is superb, oozing likeable charisma and passion as Prince Albrecht, who, with Hilarion, well-portayed by Gennadiy Batalov, is snared by these ghosts, the Wilis. The spirits are led by Queen Myrtha, immaculately played by Marina Ivushkina, whose icy stare lifts the grace of the corps de ballet another notch. Natalia Padalko is very endearing as Giselle herself, the young peasant girl who dies of a broken heart when she learns that the prince is already betrothed. The scenery in these traditional productions, usually a bit starchy, is lush and three-dimensional, even though it is basic, along with unobtrusive lighting, and just a squirt of dry ice. This production is a treat for those who love the ballet done the traditional way; not that we don't like the modern stuff. It is just wonderful to see this art form, almost frozen in time, that is at the root of most of the bewildering array of dance we appreciate today.

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06 February 2004, Newmail Advertiser: Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Prima puts rest in shade

 

NATALIA Padalko gave a breathtaking performance as Giselle at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, almost to the extent of making the technically brilliant corps de ballet at the Moscow City Ballet pale into insignificance.
Leading man Talgat Kozhabaev also received rapturous applause for his dashing portrayal of the gallant Prince Albrecht, but it was the diminutive young Russian primaballerina who won the hearts of the audience.
Padalko perfected the technically demanding role and added to it an Oskar deserving sense of drama, seen at its height at the end of the first act when madness descends on a despairing Giselle after learning the true identity of Prince Albercht.
A wonderfully busy first act, coloured by the lavish costumes of the rich and the bustling peasant scenes, is brought to a close by the death of heroine Giselle from a broken heart.
A darker second act opens in a churchyard at midnight - the hour when the ghosts of young women who have died of a broken heart dance unwary men to death.
The organ music and use of the harp combined with the perfectly syncronised corps de ballet, who, dressed in white, glide steadily across the stage, send shivers down the spine.
An act well suited to traditional ballet lovers follows, with Padalko and Kozhabaev dancing a captivating duet, complete with effortless lifts against a soft backdrop of perfectly poised ballerinas.
A brilliant performance was also given by the striking Marina Ivushkina, who played both Princess Bathilde in Act One and the stem queen of the ghosts in the second act.
Elena Osokina and Anton Gueiker's performance of the virtuosic pas-de-deux at the end of Act One was well timed and seemed to gain confidence with time, but harshly for them, sky-high standards had already been firmly established by the prima ballerina and her leading man. - CO

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06 February 2004, Evening Post: Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Ballet night to remember

DON QUIXOTE Theatre Royal

 

THE legendary knight-errant and sidekick Sancho Panza take a ringside seat in Moscow City Ballet's traditional production, letting the principals dance most of the action.
As with the company's Giselle earlier this week, the lead male role (of Basil, the town barber) is played brilliantly by Talgat Kozhabaev. The love of his art shines through every aspect of his art shines through every aspect of his performance, as he combines grace and poise with a boisterous athletism.
And his partner, Elena Osokina as Kitri, is accomplished in the role of the innkeeper's daughter who enchants Don Quixote, Basil, and the comic Gamash.
But the most striking scene is during Don Quixote's dream, where he is haunted ny the Dryads.
As a contrast from the earlier Spanish costumes, the long pointy-bearded one is surrounded by light-green-clad ballerinas, in subdued light, in front of the dreamy backdrop of the famous windmill.
The sound of life musicians, the National Ballet Orchestra, added greatly to the evening.

Chris Oxley.

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13 February 2004, Herald Express; Princess Theatre, Torquay

Outstanding performances captivate packed audience

Theatre review, Sleeping Beauty, Moscow City Ballet, Princess Theatre, Torquay

I HAD never been to see a professional ballet performance before, and I had no idea what to expect.
As I entered the theatre, I noticed the majority of the auditorium was full.
As the lights dimmed, the live National Ballet orchestra at the front of the theatre began to play and the curtain was raised - That's when the magic started.
The opening act captivated every member of the audience, and kept them hooked until the very end.
The story is largely based on fairytale, but without the programme it would have been easy to get lost. This is because it was hard to focus on major plot developments without sitting with your mouth open, wondering how the human body could bend that way.
You could easily see that Moscow City Ballet were professionals, even if you were unaware of their reputation around the globe.
The music (composed by Tchaikovsky) basically told the story for the ballerinas, it generated an atmosphere that drew you in and made you forget there were hundreds of other people sitting around you, held in the same dream-like trance that only the ballet can create.
The scenery was effective without stealing the show, and my personal favourite, the costumes, were exceptional.
Every dancer had an outfit that surpassed the others, no matter how small their part. All performances were outstanding, but I feel that the Prince, played by Talgat Kozhabaev was particularly good. His solo pieces demand recognition for their skill and grace.
The final applause lasted for at least three minutes, but was well deserved.
Simply enchanting.

Caitlin Hanrahan.

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13 February 2004, MD Advertiser; Princess Theatre, Torquay

Magical fairtale brought to life

The Princess Theatre
Sleeping Beauty

I LEFT reality behind for a couple of hours and entered a world which was like a magical fairtale when I went to watch the Moscow City Ballet perform Sleeping Beauty, with the Moscow City Ballet Orchestra, on Monday night.
The ballet follows the story of princess Aurora, who pricks her finger and falls asleep after being given a spindle by the evil Fairy Carabosse. She is awoken 100 years later after being kissed by prince Florimund and lives happily ever after.
The ballet is beautifully choreographed by Marius Petipa. the graceful steps, of the 30 or so ballerinas and ballet dancers, captured my attention throughout - they appeared to almost float across the stage.
Tatiana Krasnova, who played princess Aurora, clearly stood out. She shone from the minute she danced on to the stage, and every move she made was with precision.
All the cast deserve rapturous applause, as they are all extremely talented dancers who thoroughly deserve their success.
The sets were intricate - inside the palace the gardens and the enchanted forest. No expense was spared to make the evening magical. And who could forget the amazing costumes, which glistened as they caught the light. They were simply amazing.
Tchaikovsky's music clearly brought the lovable and dramatic ballet to life.
The stage is small, and during certain routines the dancers seemed squashed, but you can't take away how talented each individual is in this production.
You can certainly see why the Moscow City Ballet has a reputation as one of the world leading companies.

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17 February 2004, New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Striking colour and costumes in Moscow's Sleeping Beauty

 

SLEEPING Beauty, which opened at the New Vic on Monday as part of the Moscow City Ballet's UK tour, was Tchaikovsky's second ballet.
His first, Swan Lake - arguably his most popular today - received a poor reception in 1877. So when the director of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg wrote to him in 1888 suggesting a ballet based on Charles Perrault's La belle au bois dormant, the composer was surprised how much the idea appealed to him.
Perrault's Contes de ma mere l'Oye ou Histories du temps passe was published in Paris in January 1697. For the purposes of the ballet it was edited to become almost identical to the Grimm Brothers' Dornroschen - the classic Sleeping Beauty story whose translation is told to children.
The Moscow City Ballet is used to performing the works of the Russian masters and the dancers executed their parts with skill. Anyone who can perform a 360-degree turn balancing on the toes of one foot is certainly deserving of admiration.
The most striking aspect of the production is the colour and quality of the costumes and sets. The ballet takes advantage of the fact not every dancer is required to wear a tutu - the King and Queen, Carabosse, the wicked fairy and the four princely suitors have full costumes that do not interfere with the performance.
Equally impressive are the backdrops and sets which are colourful, artistic and efficiently managed between scenes.
The music, provided by the company's in-house orchestra, was adequate but not better. Wind passages were fluent, smooth and technically assured in the typical Russian manner of other orchestras like the Russian National.
But the string playing was not quite of the same quality and was not helped by the small size of the band - although itself limited by the capacity of touring theatres. Some of the more famous numbers were taken at rather less famous speeds, usually considerably slower than usual. This minimized the impact of the beginning of Act One in particular.
However this was my only qualm in what was otherwise a colourful and entertaining spectacle without the oppressive formality often seen at evening performances of ballet.
One of the main obstacles of balletic art is the lack of language within it, which can inevitably cause confusion to the viewer. With an easily followed and well-known plot Sleeping Beauty is an ideal and accessible introduction as well as a great production is it's own right.

Simon Ashall.

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24 February 2004. Jersey Evening Post - Jersey Opera House

Ladies on the lake

Elaine Hanning sees the Moscow City Ballet wow the audience with their version of a Tchaikovsky classic

THE audience clapped and clapped, and then they clapped some more. principal dancers Gulnur Sarsenova and Talgat Kozhabaev smiled and curtsied and bowed, and the audience clapped on, whistling and cheering and stamping their feet.
There was no doubting that the prestigious Moscow City Ballet, on their first visit to Jersey, had wowed their audience with their opening performance of "Swan Lake" at the Opera House last night. They wowed this reviewer too.
As a touring company, Moscow City Ballet is huge, with as many as 30 on the stage at one time for the ballroom scenes, 20 swans and four cygnets, 32 fouettes and 16 pas de chats.
We had Tchaikovsky's incomparable music combined with choreography that placed it firmly in the traditional Russian school of textbook steps combined with high emotion.
From the opening scene at the Prince's 21st birthday party, Talgat Kozhabaev was Prince Siegfried, believable, regal, passionate, and bemused by the insistence of his mother that he must marry. He has 24 hours to choose someone.
The ballroom, the cavorting Jester and the Prince's disinterest in the princesses presented to him became, as suddenly as if a wand had been waved, mist over a lake, with huntsmen, a glimpse of the Swan Princess, and, as Odette returns to human form, the Prince following this will-o'-the-wisp.

Spiky movements


Like the bad fairy in a pantomime, the magician Baron von Rothbert, who has bewitched the Princess and the swan maidens, appears as an owl. With his dark presence and spiky movements , he brought elegance to evil. We wanted to hiss and boo.
But it was Gulnur Sarsenova in the dual roles of Odette, the enchanted and enchanting princess, and Odile, Rothbert's daughter, who persuades the Prince that she is Odette so that, in swearing his love for her, he will break his vow to the princess and condemn her to remain forever a swan, who entranced the audience.
The scene in which the Prince is convinced that the imposter Odile is Odette was cleverly visualised when she first appeared in a tutu half black and half white, turning the white side to the prince so that he sees only Odette while the audience sees the black costume of Odile.
When he is finally convinced and declares his love, Odile, dressed now all in black, reappears, with her every glance triumphant.
There is a happy ending, of sorts, to the tale - Siegfried and Odette are reunited, although in death, not in life - and the audience spilled out into the street, still somewhat dazed and with their hands tingling from their appreciative applause.

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02 October 2003,GRIMSBY TELEGRAPH, UK - New Theatre, Hull

Swan Lake unruffled

REVIEW

Swan Lake Hull New Theatre

Moscow magic! I guarantee that this magnificent production by the Moscow City ballet will leave you totally mesmerized.
Tchaikovsky's ballet, one of the world's favourites, is superbly danced by a company of more than 70 which has toured the world giving sell-out performances.
Since being founded in 1988, it has given more than 1,500 performances in this country alone.
Outstanding dancing comes from Talgat Kozhabaev as the the prince who loses his heart to a lovely young maiden in the spell of an evil sorcerer. Odette, Queen of the Swans, is delightfully danced by Gulnur Sarsenova.
But all the dancers, backed by the National Ballet orchestra, are dazzling, with special mention going to the corps de ballet - the swans being more like swans than the real thing!
Spectacular costumes and sets are among the most colourful I have seen on any stage.
Today, Friday and Saturday (including a matinee), the company dances The Sleeping Beauty, which has captivated audiences for more than 100 years.
May I suggest you treat yourself to a wonderful evening.

John Morton.

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08 October 2003,THE MAIL, UK - New Theatre, Hull

Discover an art form that is easy to follow and beautifully hear and see

Swan along to ballet

Moscow City Ballet

Hull New Theatre

"YOU'RE not going to get me to the ballet, watching a lot of men prancing around in tights..."
This was the response I received when I told my fiance about Moscow City Ballet coming to Hull with two of its finest touring shows, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.
Sadly, this is a view many people have of the ballet.
You can guarantee these people, who are quick to tell you what it will be like and dismiss it entirely have never witnessed one in their lives.
And that's a real shame as their false judgements could make them miss out on a unique experience.
Although I had to been to see many palys in the city's professional and amateur theatres, I had never seen a ballet until this one.
Leaving my fiance at home with his PlayStation-2 and golf clubs to keep him happy, I set off to see Swan lake with one of my more cultured and open-minded friends.
Swan Lake features many pieces of music I am sure everyone will have heard - and this is half the battle.
When an audience is familiar with the score it gives them a sense of ownership, and you would have to live in a cave and cut yourself off from society not to recognise some of the famous parts of Tchaikovsky's score.
Many people dismiss ballets because they think they won't be able to follow what is happening. But this is simply not true.
The stunning sets, scenery and carefully tuned choreography leave you in no doubt of the plot.
What's more, the dancers are nothing short of mesmerising.
They move across the stage in such a graceful and effortless way, yet their timing and flexibility are proof of the tireless hours that are spent in trying to achieve artistic perfection.
The Moscow City Ballet is one of the most highly regarded companies in the business.
They are being supported on this tour by the National Ballet Orchestra, who succeed effortlessly in bringing out the beauty in the music.
So do away with those misconceptions and catch the Moscow City Ballet before they head back home.
And, strangely enough, I didn't have a problem watching men in tights.

Nicola Juncar.

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28 October 2003,BATH CHRONICLE, UK - Theatre Royal, Bath

Sugar Plum Fairy missing from new Nutcracker ballet

REVIEW

The Nutcracker / Theatre Royal, Bath

THE Nutcracker really is the perfect choice for somebody's first ballet.
To follow the tale, you really don't need to be conversant in the delicacies and nuances of balletic language and gestures, or even know your plie from your pirouette.
Neither do you require any great knowledge of the plot, as the traditional storyline is pretty simple to follow, even for the younger members of the audience.
And with this being half-term, the audience at the Theatre Royal for the opening night of the Moscow City Ballet's interpretation of Tchaikovsky's yuletide classic, certainly had its share of youngsters accompanying parents and grandparents, all adding to a healthy and excited crowd.
What they witnessed was a beautifully played, if at times somewhat confusing, portrayal of Christmas Eve at the house of Dr Silberhaus and the extraordinary fantasy world that is created by the imagination of his daughter Clara.
With this production, director Victor Smirnov-Golovanov has adapted the original and classically appreciated choreography of Marius Petipa to include a few quite unexpected changes.
Most notable was the surprise exclusion of the Sugar Plum Fairy, one of the central characters to the original productions, as well as a slight restructuring of the general storyline.
What we are left with is the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy being quite beautifully taken on by Elena Osokina as Clara, the kingdom of sweets being replaced by the kingdom of flowers and the international dancers from Asia, Russia, China and Spain turning up completely out of the standard sequence of events.
Still, as a spectacle, the result remained quite magnificent.
The central female dancers performed beautifully, particularly the lead, while the corps de ballet quite outshone their usual position of backing performers.
Worthy of of particular praise were the exquisite flower fairies, each of their individual performances being greeted with generous applause from the audience.
Certainly Talgat Kozhabaev as the Nutcracker Prince appeared at first, dare I say, somewhat wooden.
But this could well have been a little first night nerves, as by the time of the pas de deux, his performance imroved notably, albeit still lacking some of the extravagant leaps one generally expects from a Rusiian troupe.
Sneaking a look around the theatre, this was a performance that was clearly enthralling the audience, no matter what their age.
And, while I may have preferred a more traditional interpretation, the basic spectacle, costumes and dancing on view made it clear while, even 111 years after its first performance, The Nutcracker still has the ability to enthral and delight.
The Nutcracker can been seen today, tomorrow and on Thursday, with Cinderella on Friday and Saturday.

Ian Waller.

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29 October 2003,BRISTOL EVENING POST, UK - Theatre Royal, Bath

Russian ballet a treat for all

REVIEWs

The Nutcracker: Theatre Royal, Bath

THE ballet is back in town with a tasty chocolate box selection which includes The Nutcrtacker and Cinderella - it must be half term!
This particular sugar-sweet confection, designed to grab grannies, pull in parents and cheer children, is deliciously served up in mouthwatering style by the Moscow City Ballet.
___A product of new Russia and only formed in 1988, the company has built a touring reputation, particularly in the English regions.
This is strictly a traditional troduction of Tchaikovsky's work, choreographed by Moscow City Ballet founder Victor Smirnov- Golovanov.
Elena Osokina and talgat Kozhabaev lead the principals as Clara, the young girl, and the Nutcracker Prince of her dreams. gennadiy Batalov is particularly impressive as Drosselmeyer the magician who brings Christmas presents to life.
Igor Shavruk conducts an imposing orchestra and both the set and costumes are designed to bring forth plenty of "oohs" and "aahs" from the receptive audience.
The Nutcrtacker and Cinderella run in tandem until Saturday, with ticket priced from £14.50 to £33. telephone 01225 448 844 for details.
______

ALAN KING.

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29 October 2003,THE BATH ALTERNATIVE, UK - Theatre Royal, Bath

Cracking good show

REVIEW

Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite by Moscow City ballet Theatre Royal Bath

The Nutcracker, set to Peter Tchaikovsky’s familiar and lyrical music, is a fantasy that has appeal for all ages. It tells the story of a Christmas party where a young girl, Clara, is given a nutcracker doll in the shape of a toy soldier by her mysterious godfather.
It's an ideal introduction to ballet for young people because it is easy to follow, pretty and occasionally funny. It is no coincidence it has been chosen for the half-term week.
The godfather, Drosselmeyer transforms himself into a magician and brings the nutcracker, a doll and a mouse king to life. Later he transports Clara to a mystical land where she has become a princess and the nutcracker, a prince and there are dancing flowers and amazing sights.
The choreography and interpretation of the story are not so familiar. Moscow City Ballet’s founder and artistic director, Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, has choreographed this version, which is exciting, sometimes a little sinister and always magical.
Elena Osokina is Clara, an assured, perfectly poised dancer who characterises the contrasting roles of young girl and the princess with dramatic skill.
Gennadiy Batalov tops the list of male principals as Drosselmeyer in my view. He can be bold and dominating as the magician and subtle and delicate as the godfather. His acting skills match his flexibility as a dancer.
Talgat Kozhabaev dances the Nutcracker Prince in traditional heroic style. He has undoubted presence and charm but not quite Batalov’s subtlety.
His alter-ego, the nutcracker doll, has a very able exponent in Nurzhan Blagoveshensky.
The corps de ballet were superbly in accord with one another, and coped with the limitations of the Theatre Royal stage without apparent difficulty.
It is not an ideal stage for ballet, particularly if the choreography calls for spectacular leaps. There is always a slight anxiety that if one of them overstretches he or she may end up in the orchestra pit.
The costumes are dazzlingly colourful and the sets equally attractive.
The theatre is offering some half-price tickets for children, who will love this show.

Jo Bayne.

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05 November 2003,WHARFE VALLEY TIMES, UK - Grand Theatre, Leeds

SLEEPING BEAUTY

GRAND THEATRE

THE MOSCOW City Ballet presents this sumptuous and visually stunnung adaption of the well-known fairytale.
A very traditional production, this is a straightforward re-telling of the storyu of Princess Aurora, who pricks her finger on a spindle and falls asleep for a hundred years, awaiting rescue from the handsome prince Florimund.
With its layers of painted curtains framing the beautifully painted views of forests and palaces, the set is reminiscent of a 3D pop-out story book.
The costumes are superb, from the sparkling gold qowns in which the courtiers are dressed to the more traditional tutus of varying colours worn by the fairies.
But it is the standard of the dancing which is truly breath-taking, particularly the performances of Florimund and Aurora. The dance by Puss in Boots at the wedding celebratiions is a welcome touch of humour as the female cat gets her ears boxed several times by the male cat before getting her own back with a well-aimed paw of her own.
The only thing which lets down this delightful production is the insistence of the dancers to take a bow after every solo, no matter how brief. This has the effect of regularly drawing the audience out of the fairytale and reminding them they are merely watching a troop of dancers playing the parts; albeit exceedingly well.
The Moscow City Ballet is now performing its second production, The Nutcracker, at the Grand until Saturday. For tickets and booking details, contact the box office on (0113) 222 6222.

Kate Evans.

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13 November 2003,KENTISH GAZETTE, UK - The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

CLASSICAL BALLET AWASH WITH TALENT

Swan Lake
Moscow City Ballet
The Marlowe Theatre

THE Moscow City Ballet opened a six-day visit to the Marlowe with Swan lake on Monday evening, and left a packed house on its feet in tribute.
This is a company that interprets and captures the true spirit of Russian ballet with passion, fluecy and energy combining with the timing and precision of a well drilled guard's regiment.
It was impossible to pick out individuals for praise simply because all the dancers, from the principals to the corps de ballet, showed they are masters of their art.
Like many classical ballets, tchaikovsky's Swan Lake is a fairy story where although evil appears to triumph over good, it is love that unites two souls in eternal happipiness.
It emphasises the drama as Prince Siegfried and Odette, the swan queen., express their love while fighting off the influence of the sorcerer Von Rothbart, but it is by no means all sadness and despair.
There are times when the stage is filled with a kaleidoscope of colourful costumes and folk inspired dancing with a jester to add a touch of fun. Like the rest of the productions, they take the breath away.
Swan Lake finishes its run today (Thursday) with performances at 2:30pm and 7:30pm, with Giselle being presented tomorrow at 7:30pm and again on Saturday with a matinee at 2:30pm.

Mike Scott.

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14 November 2003,KENTISH GAZETTE, UK - The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

RUSSIAN SWANS CAST A POWERFUL SPELL

REVIEW

IT WAS just as if gravity had been switched off when the Moscow City Ballet brought their intoxicatting grace to the marlowe stage on Monday with Swan Lake.
Here was true perfection of an art, performed by the world's leading ballet company. The seemingly impossible standard of gymnastic poetry from principal soloists and corps de ballet echoed the finest traditions of this bewitching art form.
The story is of a prince who falls in love with Odette, Queen of the Swans. She is under a powerful spell which can only be broken by the pure love of a young man.
The suitor must overcome the evil socerer Rothbart to find eternal happiness with Odette.
She and her friends are condemned to be swans during the day but resume their human form at night.
Tchaikovsky's wonderful score adds to the ingredients of romance and tragedy in a classical spectacular of colour and movement.
The precision of 26 swans and the astounding dancing of Gulnur Sarsenova as odette/Odile earned lengthy applause.
Swan Lake runs until tonight (Thursday) with Theophile Gautier's Giselle, a traditional tale of love and betrayal, completing the Russians' visit on Friday and Saturday. Box office is 01227 787787.

Braian Lewis.

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20 November 2003,EASTERN DAILY PRESS, UK - The Marina Theatre, Lowestoft

Breathtaking skill, artistry, athleticism

Swan Lake, Moscow City Ballet
Marina Theatre, Lowestoft

The company perfectly captures the romance and tragedy of a timeless classic, combining enchanting dance, dazzling costumes, a superb set and Tchaikovsky's beautiful music.
Formed by distinguished choreographer and former soloist of the Bolshoi Ballet Victor Smirnov - Golovanov, Moscow City Ballet is one of Russia's leading companies.
The story is about a Princess, Odette (Gulnur Sarsenova) who is turned into a swan by an evil magician Von Rothbart (German Blagoveshenskiy). Every midnight she becomes human for a few hours. One midnight, she is seen by Prince Siegfried (Talgat Kozhabaev) who falls in love and promises to rescue her. Siegfried prepares to introduce Odette as his bride at a castle ball. A black swan like Odette enters - it is Von Rothbart's daughter, Odile (Gulnur Sarsenova).
Siegfried says she will be his bride. Odetta appears, he realises he has been tricked, Odette rushes off to the lake, and Siegfried fights Von Rothbart. Before the Prince dies, he frees the swan maidens and the souls of Odette and Siegfried are united.
The skill, artistry and athleticism by the principals, corps de ballet and soloists were breathtaking.

Rhonda Deal.

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4 December 2003, MILTON KEYNES CITIZEN, UK - Milton Keynes Theatre,

What ballet is all about

 

CHRISTMAS arrived in Milton Keynes on Monday when layers of transparent, leafy curtains drifted up on Moscow City Ballet's Sleeping Beauty.
On the stage streamed glittering royalty, colour-themed fairies and the gorgeously costumed corps de ballet; as always the Russians are offering their audience a classic feast of sumptuous music, lavish costumes and the most evocative, traditional scenery.
The dancing is superb, from the pyrotechnic leaps of Talgat Kozhabaev (Prince Florimund) and the exquisite grace of Elena osokina (Princess Aurora) to the discplined, perfectly drilled corps, this is what ballet is all about - grace, perfect timing and the ability to make the near impossible look effortless.
The set pieces are performed in quickfire succession, a non-stop pageant of fairies bestowing gifts, a spider-like Carabosse whirling around the stage, beautiful Aurora's courtship dances and a huge flower-bedecked celebration of the princess' birthday. And that is only Act One.
The orchestra conducted by Igor Shavruk gives every possible nuance to Tchaikovsky's luscious score and adds immensely to the evening's enjoyment.
By the time the beautiful dream sequence had been danced, Puss in Boots and his white cat had performed their witty little interlude and the Bluebirds produced a breath-taking run of stunning leaps and lifts, it was hard to see how a climax could be produced. But trust Victor Smirnov - Golovanov, the artistic director: the final celebration of Aurora's wedding finds a stage filled with 40-plus dancers, all in fabulous costumes and managing to dance as if they had acres of space.
The applause was deafening and the curtain calls many. With Cinderella to follow on Friday and Saturday and the lights switched on the giant tree in Theatre Square - what a perfect start to Christmas.

Carolyn English.

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9 December 2003, BUCKS FREE PRESS, UK - Wycombe Swan,

Swan Lake - Wycombe Swan

 

FOR the lovers of traditional ballet, this performance of Swan Lake by the Moscow City Ballet was a visual feast.
It was danced by a surprisingly fresh-faced company, and these highly-skilled Russian performers entertained with all the elegance and grace required of such a famous ballet.
The costumes alone were worth turning up for. Traditionally staged, the range of shades and decoration was spectacular and the use of colour to depict evil and good was simple yet effective.
The ethereal lead dancer Gulner Sarsenova, as the good and evil swan, shone out from the rest, as did the colourful character of the Jester, danced by Nurzhan Iskaliev. Both carried off the complicated choreography with panache and were a pleasure to watch.
The live music, performed by The National Ballet Orchestra and conducted by Igor Shavruk, added to the special feel of the evening and one or two slip-ups among the musicians did nothing to take away from the overall magic of the performance.

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07 January 2003, The Gazette; Blackpool, UK - Grand Theatre

Moscow stars are on familiar ground

REVIEW

SWAN LAKE Grand Theatre, Blackpool

PANTOMIME has packed its bags and Blackpool's only year-round theatre has performed one of its classic cultural U-turns by starting the New Year with a return visit of the ever-popular Moscow City Ballet.
Formed in 1988, the company is the outcome of the changes in post-Soviet Russia and since 1991 it has given almost 1,200 performances in the UK alone - nearly 450 of them being Swan Lake.
The current version combines six choreographic talents - including that of company founder Victor Smirnov - Golovanov - but it still pretty traditional in its approach to the fusion of tragic folk tale and Tchaikovsky's musical mixture of drama and romance.
Lavishly costumed and with a total corps de ballet of more than two dozen plus an orchestra of the same size, it's a full scale production which will delight lovers of accessible familiarity. Natalia Koungourtseva is delightful as the doomed Odette - arms constantly fluttering like fragile wings as she heads for her inevitable fate - and equally a coquettish temptress as her evil alter ego Odile, wooing the flawed Prince Siegfried.
Unfortunately Koungourtseva's grace and elegance is not matched by Nourlan Abougaliev's Prince.
Only in some later solo moments does he shine - much of the time he seems to serve as little more than a pas de deux lifter; even being upstaged by German Blagoveshensky's mocking Von Rothbart. Fortunately, there is enough enthusiasm elsewhere to more than hold the interest - diminutive Roman Arkhypov's Jester combines athleticism, humour and some marvelous facial expressions and both Natalia Padalko and Gaukhar Ussina's Hungarian and Spanish brides add glamour and skill to their solo interludes.
Swan Lake is repeated tonight and tomorrow with The Nutcracker being performed from Thursday to Saturday.

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13 January 2003, Evening Gazette; Blackpool, UK - Grand Theatre

Cracker to lift bleak winter spirits

NUTCRACKER

Grand Theatre, Blackpool

MICE running amok amidst musicians, a stunning soldier nutcracker chatting up a doll - it can only mean that most festive of ballets is back to Blackpool.
The ghoust of Christmas past lingers at the Grand until Saturday as Moscow City Ballet bring a cracker of the production to town.
Nutcracker may lack the emotional intensity of the company's Swan Lake but it's fun and that's what we need right now, lifting bleak midwinter spirits, visually stunning, musically delightful - a truly charming ballet.
While the graceful corps de ballet and principal ballerinas seldom disappoint, it's the leading men who let the side down, charismatic but a little plodding in pace.
They're possibly paying the price of two ballets in one week, the principals merely changing costume (as needed do the leading ballerinas).
The short and simple two acts offer some of the most memorable dance cameos and music in Tchaikovsky's work, in one of his most populist ballets.
It's a showcase for the National Ballet Orchestra which deservedly won the most rousing reception.
Artistic Director Victor Smirnov-Golovanov is to be praised for direction and choreography of an inspired production - the man who founded Moscow City Ballet to honour the fine traditions of Russian classical ballet while granting dancers artistic license within its confines.
As ever, while principal ballerinas excel, it's fine smiling corps de ballet which pleases the eye with the precision and perfection of its symmetry of motion.

 

Jacqueline Morley.

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14 January 2003, The Gazette; Grimsby, UK - Grimsby Auditorium

Moscow dancers weave fairy tale magic

 

A CHARM was cast when spell-binding ballet came to Grimsby Auditorium.
The Moscow City Ballet danced Swan Lake, the magical tale of a handsome prince who falls in love with a woman held captive by an evil sorcerer - all set to Tchaikovsky's famous music. Ut was a rare chance to see stunning ballet of the highest standart.
The story opens at Prince Siegfried's 21st birthday party, where he and best pal Benno are dancing, drinking and making merry, with the help of a court jester whose fantastic leaping and comedy stole every scene he was in.
Siegfried's mother spoils the fun when she sweeps in and tells hes son it is high time he got married. A betrothal ball is planned for next evening.
Spotting a flock of swans overhead, Siegfried and benno decide they will spend their last night of freedom hunting in the moonlit forest - and it is there that Siegfried meets Odette...
Principal dancers Talgat Kozhabaev (Prince Siegfried) and Gaukhar Ussina (Odette/Odile) both danced flawlessly and expressed the tragedy of the story through every movements and gesture.
Every member of the company communicated with the audience through movement which had finesse and beauty. Fantastic costumes completed the fairy tale.
The Moscow City Ballet Orchestra played the music of their countryman with the feeling and drama this great Romantic tale deserves.
The Moscow City Ballet performs Cinderella tonight at 7:30pm at the Grimsby Auditorium.

Eve Parish.

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24 January 2003, Lowestoft Journal; Lowestoft, UK - Marina Theatre

Ballet a big hit at the box office

 

THE Moscow City ballet has broken all box office records at the Marina Theatre, Lowestoft.
Managers announced on Monday that sales had gone beyond all expectations, with several thousand ballet enthusiasts filling the seats for the productions of Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty.
A spoke man for the Marina expressed his delight that the visit had been so well suported. "We knew that signs were good when Nutcracker sold out some weeks ago, but we have been rushed off our feet with sales for Sleeping Beauty too," he said.
The Moscow City Ballet is visiting Lowestoft for the first time, along with its own 26-piece orchestra. It will be the first time that a full Russian ballet company has performed in Lowestoft accompanied by a live orchestra.
Technical staff have been working round the clock to ensure that everything goes smoothly, including alterations to the theatre's orchestra pit to allow it to accommodate double its capacity.
Gordon Fitzmaurice, tour director for international ballet promoter Victor Hochhauser, spoke of how delighted the company was to be visiting Lowestoft.
"out of our entire autumn/winter tour, which is visiting all the major cities in great Britian and Ireland, Lowestoft's Marina Theatre has had the highest percentage of ticket sales. The tour has been going very well, with both the Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker receiving rapturous applause in every venue visited," he said.
The Moscow City Ballet is in Lowestoft for only three days - yesterday, today and tomorrow.

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31 January 2003, Lowestoft Journal; Lowestoft, UK - Marina Theatre

Thrilling double from the world's top ballet

REVIEW

Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty, Moscow City Ballet and Moscow City Ballet Orchestra, Marina Theatre, Lowestoft

 

DIDN'T he do well? Who? Martin Halliday, manager of the Marina Theatre, of course who persuaded Moscow City Ballet to visit Lowestoft.
When was the last time we had a touring live orchestra accompanying a ballet?
Hundreds of theatre goers did not want to miss the opportunity of quality entertainment, judging by the long fast moving queue of people outside the theatre, waiting to fill all the seats of auditorium.
Okay, we've had ballet at the Marina before, but usually to taped music - a tiny bit like comparing a karaoke act to a live band. Although maybe these is no comparison.
Ballet without an orchestra just doesn't have the same depth and magic. We wore therefore in for a double treat in Lowestoft having not only one of the best ballet companies around, but a great orchestra too.
The Nutcracker was wonderful, with a tremendously festive feel. A 20ft Christmas tree adorned with lights and candles, combined with lighting suggesting the constant fall of snow, was amazing. Then, together with wonderful costumes was a visual delight, only spoiled by the busy backdrop of Act II which distracted from the colour and texture of the costumes.
Clara, Maia Vichniakova, danced superbly with Nutcracker Prince, Talgat Kozhabaev, although she appeared a little vulnerable when alone. Nonetheless, we were treated to excellent dancers throughout the memorable performance, who coped admirably with a small stage. Surely nothing could beat the Nutcracker which had appeared to my non-ballet loving comparison?
Perhaps Sleeping Beauty had added impact because of the reaction of my young companion who had never seen a ballet or live orchestra. Her face was an absolute picture throughout.
She chose which costume she would like to own and had in her soul when nasty Fairy Carabosse, superbly played by Dmitri Romanov, caused havoc, although he was her favourite character overall.
We were thrilled with the dancing of the Corps de ballet and soloists and the principal dancers were out of this world. Nourlan Abougaliev as prince Florimund was faultiness but Natalia Koungourtseva, Princess Aurora, floated, making every movement appear effortless in a stunning performance.
Artistic director Victor Smirnov - Golovanov deserves applause for his direction of this superb company.
We should, however, also applaud Martin for bringing quality entertainment to the area.
Fantastic.

Sara Higgins.

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31 January 2003, The News; Southsea, UK - King's Theatre

Enchanting ballet never fails to enthral

FRONT ROW

The Nutcracker, King's Theatre

 

A PACKED audience thoroughly enjoyed The Nutcracker, performed by the Moscow City Ballet.
The ballet was perfect for post-Christmas - the excitement of present opening was seen all over again, this time with ballerinas in colourful costumes.
The audience did not stop applauding at the end of Victor Smirnov-Golovanov's Nutcracker, which produced laughter as well as awe.
At times, the dance did not perhaps match the drama of the well-known music of Peter Tchaikovsky.
But with excellent performance from Natalia Koungourtseva as Clara, Nourlan Abougaliev as the Prince and Dmitry Romanov as the godfather Drosselmeyer., it was well worth watching.
The second act was more enchanting than the first with beautiful dancing, costumes and backdrop - the audience were enthralled by famous dances, such as the sugar plum fairy.
There will be another chance to see the Moscow City Ballet when it performs Swan Lake tonight and tomorrow night from 7.30pm.

EMILY TWINCH

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05 February 2003, Daily Echo; Poole, UK - Lighthouse

Ballet that's a late Christmas present

The Nutcracker - Moscow City Ballet, Lightouse, Poole

 

YOU can't just help yourself. As soon as that familiar theme beging. Frank Muir's voice pipes up in your imagination: "Every one's a fruit and nut case...".
The Dance of the Reed Flutes, of course, is just one of many well-loved episodes that have ensured the enduring popularity of this ballet.
As you'd expect from Moscow City Ballet, the work, showcased in the grand, traditional manner with choreography by Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, is presented with commitment and flair.
And festive setting, emphasised here by almost panto-style scenery, makes this a late Christmas present to cherish.
Tchaikovsky's gorgeous orchestration is complemented by delightful dancing from principals, soloists and corps de ballet.
On opening night, Natalia Koungourtseva was elegant and expressive as Clara but Nourlan Abougaliev seemed a little hesitant at times as her Nutcracker Prince.
Dmitry Romanov was charismatic as Drosselmeyer, the Godfather who introduces Clara to a magical world on Christmas eve.
An erotic tension between the pair, which is not usually underlined, added an intriguing edge of danger to a relationship.
Elswhere, highlights of the evening included the high-energy Chinese Dance, an enchanting Waltz of the Floers and, of course, the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.

David Ross.

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05 February 2003, Dorset Echo; Poole, UK - Lighthouse

Dark dimension to a joyous ballet

MOSCOW CITY BALLET The Lighthouse, Poole By MARION COX

 

JUST when you thought you knew a well-loved classical ballet backwards, along comes a renowned company who bring to a whole new dimension to the Nutcracker story.
Gone is the cosy family tale of children playing with new toys presented by Drosselmeyer, an avuncular godfather with a penchant for magic tricks.
In this production, the godfather has altogether different designs upon the child Clara and the sexual element between the two brings a darker, disturbing aspect to this otherwise joyous work.
And the Nutcracker Prince is not so much troubled by the Mouse King as his godfather creator, the pair of them being rivals for the attentions of the lovely Clara, definetely not the stuff of bedtime stories in the nursery.
Wonderful costumes and a full company of dancers make this a splendidly lavish production on a stage that has trouble accomodating everyone at times, not to mention the numerous musicians in the orchestra pit.
The dancers are put through their paces in some excellent solo classical performances, not least that of Drosselmeyer who, in a wicked turn of events, gives a male rendering of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
The production continues untill tomorrow, with Cinderella taking to the stage for the rest of the week.

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10 February 2003, BBCi Suffolk; Ipswich, UK - The Regent

Review: The Nutcracker

The Ipswich Regent, 10th February 2003

 

Moscow City Ballet, one of the world's leading ballet companies, performed The Nutcracker at The Ipswich Regent. Katy Evans went along to see if they did justice to Tchaikovsky's masterpiece.
Moscow City Ballet pulled out all the stops at the Ipswich Regent to create a lavish, optically indulgent performance of the Great Russian Nutcracker; delighting the eyes just as a rich, calorie-laden chocolate cake pleases the palate.
Spectacular scenery and sumptuous, Technicolor costumes combined with stunning solo performances to provide any lover of ballet with a night of pure fantasy and escapism, worth every penny of the ticket price.
As the curtains part you are transported to a make-believe world where mice fight toy soldiers and flowers dance and dolls come to life.
Produced and choreographed by Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, the 50-strong cast of dancers execute every movement with the finesse expected of a professional, international ballet company.
Clara, danced by the talented and lithe Natalia Koungourtseva, is captivating, while Nourlan Abougaliev leaps and pirouettes impressively as the handsome Nutcracker Prince.
Tchaikovsky's score creates a perfect balance between light and shade, elegance and energy. The first act opens with a joyous Christmas party that transforms into a furious battle scene between mice and soldiers. Following this, a moving duet between Clara and her Godfather, Drosselmeyer, which fades into the ethereal dance of the snowflakes, perfectly capturing the magic of a fairytale winter wonderland.
The Moscow's interpretation is slightly different to my recollections. For example, the dance of the Merlitons or Red Pipes (to the music made famous by a certain fruit and nut chocolate bar) is danced not by ladies in tutus but by Drosselmeyer. What is usually the Land of Sweets is the Land of Flowers and the famous pas de deux, in this case, is danced by the Nutcracker Prince and Clara, not the Sugar Plum Fairy.
However, these minor details matter not because the dancing is so spellbinding that the story takes a supporting role. My only slight criticism was the number of bows taken. Don't get me wrong, it was certainly worthy of great applause but there's such a thing as quitting while you're ahead. I felt the soloists stayed on stage perhaps a tad too long, squeezing every last clap from the audience.
All in all a spectacular night.

Rating: 9 / 10

Katy Evans.

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11 February 2003, Daily Echo; Poole, UK - Lighthouse

Russian ballet company thrills packed house

Cinderella, Moscow City Ballet, Lighthouse, Poole

 

When a performance has the capacity audience cheering to the rafters, unwilling to let the company leave the stage, you can be sure they have witnessed something very special indeed.
And special it was, with superb dancing, brilliant characterisations, spectacular costumes and an orchestra who brought out all the richness of Prokofiev's score. There were countless innovation in Victor Smirnov-Golovanov's inspired production., including an outstanding 'human clock' denoting the passing of time. And, unusually, the male corps de ballet was used just as much as the female, most impressively as inhabitants of the Island of the Corsairs.
Comic scenes abounded, particularly in the wonderfully expressive antics of Stepmother Alexandra Moiseenko, with daughters Skinny (Maria Savina) and Dumpy (Inna Spiridonova), and also in Dmitri Romanov's personality-filled King and Gennadiy Batalov agile Dance Minister. And gravitas, charm and beauty were personiied in the characters of Fairy Godmother (Marina Ivushkina), Prince (Talgat Kozhabaev) and Cinderella (Maia Vichniakova). The clock has struck and there's no going back this time, but when MCB are here again please go along. You won't be sorry.

Linda Kirkman.

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14 February 2003, Halifax Courier, UK - The Victoria Theatre

Magic on the points

REVIEW - Cinderella, Moscow City Ballet, Victoria Theatre, Halifax

 

AFTER bringing the magic of classical ballet to many parts of the country Moscow City Ballet concludes its current visit to the Victoria Theatre in Halifax with a superb production of "Cinderella".
The traditional Russian version of the story
With Prokofiev's expressive score, beautifully played by the National Ballet Orchestra conducted by Igor Shavruk, strong characterisation, lots of glamour and plenty of humour, the production is a triumph and cannot fail to delight.
In last night's performance Maia vichniakova was totally charming in the title role. With secure technique and assured, well phraised dancing her touching sincerity tenderly expressed her change from vulnerable, ill-used drudge to the prince's betrothed.
She was splendidly partnered by Talgat Kozhabaev, a strong and gallant Prince with great style and elegance and their passionate pas de deux in the final act was magnificently performed.
Alexandra Moiseenko, Gaukhar ussina and Inna Spiridonova were very entertaining as Cinderella's selfish and cruel step-mother and step-sisters and marina Ivushkina as the Fairy Godmother, attended by the Four Seasons Fairies, presided with serene authority over the magic.
The choreography gives plenty of opportunities for skillful and diverting character dancing and there are some fine roles for the male soloists while the large and talented company is renowed for the perfection of its corps de ballet.
The magnificent costumes and attractive sets were designed by natalia Povago and the imaginative fairy tale scene is enormously enhanced by the lighting scheme of Svetlana Kaganovich.
The last performance of the company's current UK tour will take place in the Victoria Theatre tonight. It would be a shame to miss the opportunity of seeing an outstandingly good production featuring such wonderful talent.

PHYLLIS GARTELL.

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08 October 2002,BELFAST TELEGRAPH, UK - Grand Opera House

Giselle turns back time

REVIEW

Giselle / Moscow City Ballet: Grand Opera House

IT must be a long time since Belfast ballet fans saw a performance of Giselle, and last night the first of four performances by the Moscow City Ballet in the Grand Opera House attracted the older generation to see what was for them clearly a trip down memory lane.
This was an attractive performance with excellent scenery and costumes and the playing of the National Ballet Orchestra under the baton of Igor Shavruk gave a very supportive account of Adolphe Adam's tuneful score.
For ballet dancers the major roles in Giselle have always represented the high water mark of their art, with not only demanding first rate dancing technique but considerable dramatic ability as well and many legendary dancers such as Pavlova and Markova were world traveled.
The role of Giselle is a demanding one since she is required to change from being a down-to-earth peasant girl who goes mad and dies on discovering the duplicity of her lover and as Giselle last night we were treated to a first rate performance by Natalia Padalko. This was a performance that rightly aroused the audience to considerable enthusiasm and particularly in her solos this fine artist did the role proud.
Her Prince was Talgat Kozhabaev who proved splendidly supportive as well as adding his own contribution to this role. Also giving a fine account of himself was Gennadiy Batalov who give an excellent account of the role of Hans.
The programme also listed nine artists who filled other roles with distinction and needless to say the dancing was of a high standard and with the Corps de Ballet in excellent form the picture presented was both entertaining, rewarding and very professional.
An important ingredient of Giselle is, of course, Wilis, the spirits of girls who die before their wedding day and from time to time add to the general effect of the performance.
I hope that the younger generation of ballet fans, brought up on a diet of innumerable performances Swan Lake will take this opportunity to see a great classical ballet that deserves their support. Curtain down by the way at 9.45pm.

Rathcol.

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09 October 2002, NEWSLETTER; Belfast, UK - Grand Opera House

Sweetheart Giselle served with a twist

REVIEW

Giselle @ Grand Opera House

If you are a fan of US high school flicks, you'll already know Ellie's story.
The prettiest girl in her small town, she has a loving aunt and a congenital heart defect. However, that doesn't stop her falling for Al; the tall dark and handsome hunk who drives by in his open-top Caddie with his fixer friend Prinz.
That's despite her being, in everybody's eyes, not Bobby's, but Hillie's, girl. Maybe there's just the hint of a gold digger about her or maybe she just wants to go to the big city and live the life Hillie the forest ranger couldn't afford.
Of course, it all ends in tears when Al lets his roving eye fall on Hilde, daughter of the local landowner and as the two boys square up for a fair fight she dies in the excitement.
The guys have to high-tail it out of the burg as dusk falls and - souped up on drink or worse - they get bogged down in that mean old haunted graveyard (home to mad Martha) from which only one emerges.
Of course, things were different in composer Adolphe Adam's time, when the original girl was called Giselle, big Al was Albrecht, Prinz really was a Prince and Hilarion just a gamemaker.
The dancers also danced just exactly as they in the Moscow City Ballet's production, with a cast of almost 50 on stage against a fairytale chocolate box Ruritanian set and the same steps and gestures as laid down originally by Marius Petipa and others all those years ago, not a finger out of place, decade upon decade.
Giselle is danced ever so prettily by the doll-like Natalia Padalko, but the statuesque, muscular Alexander Gavrilov (seen in the MCB's last outing here) is too self-regarding to spark any emotion between the two. So it is left to Gennadiy Batalov's spirited back-woodsman to provide what feelings there are in evidence.
Fans of classic ballet will luxuriate in the prettiness of the whole affair, while those who look for a director's intelligent interpretation in the light of the last hundred or so years of psychological sophistication may not.

Ian Hill.

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11 October 2002,BELFAST TELEGRAPH, UK - Grand Opera House

Delightful confection

REVIEW

The Sleeping Beauty, Grand Opera House

There was little in the news yesterday to raise a smile but those who had booked a seat in the Grand Opera House for the ballet Sleeping Beauty found in this delightful balletic confection the perfect therapy for the blues.
The Sleeping Beauty first saw the light as a ballet in the Royal Maryinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, in January 1890 and since then there have been many different versions by various choreographers. Last night's enthusiastic audience were obviously not concerned about whose version they were seeing in a performance which was colourful, entertaining and very well danced.
Dressing and scenery was again excellent and if the brass was a little loud at times for the small strings sections, Tchaikovsky's delightful score came across splendidly. Incidentally, full marks for a splendid cello solo.
The cast was a good all-around one with an excellent pair of principals in Natalia Koungourtseva whose dancing was a delight as the Princess Aurora and she was admirably partnered by Nourlan Abougaliev, whose command of jumps and spins delighted the audience. Admirable duo to top this all-round cast.
All smaller parts were well taken and added splendidly to the performance.
These included Marina Lvuskina, The Lilac Fairy, Dmitri Batalov, Carabosse and German Blagovenhensky as Temperament and Maia Vichiakova.
The small ensembles were very well danced and the Corps de Ballet made major contribution to the performance throughout the evening.
The entire performance was clearly a delight for the audience who not only applauded every dance but even attempted to provide a standing ovation at the end. A rewarding evening.

Rathcol.

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24 October 2002,The Argus; Brighton, UK - Theatre Royal

The Russians are here to astound

MOSCOW CITY BALLET,
Theatre Royal, New Road, Brighton

IF you have ever wanted to be totally enchanted and moved then head to the Theatre Royal this week for the Moscow City Ballet season.
Be warned, no matter how old and fit you are, you will end up feeling very unfit and very much older. The young cast is as toned as a whole raft of butchers' dogs. They leap around like gazelles, are lifted like feathers and they must have springs in their heels.
The early part of this week saw these splendid Russians in performances of Giselle to the music of Adolphe Adam.
They were elegance in tights, in chiffon outfits of white and costumes of autumnal pastels and vibrant reds and crimsons.
This splendid peasant story of love, death and resurrection is impeccably done. The movements are lithe and smooth, virtually flawless.
And these dancers, both the boys and girls of the corps de ballet and the principals are pretty good actors too. Beatific smiles give way to more solemn gazes as the story is told.
The Russians do take their ballet seriously and it shows. The jetees, the plies, the pas-des-deux are all beautifully executed and they dance before a set that is truly magical, not least the likeside clearing where Giselle is buried and protected by the fairies.
Young and old make their applause firmly felt, not surprising as this is a company to brighten the dullest, coldest and dampest of days.
Swan Lake ends this week's season - probably Tchaikovsky's finest score. But on the evidence of Giselle alone, artistic director Victor Smirnov-Golovanov and Igor Shavruk, the man behind the beautifully-played music, should be proud.

Mike Howard.

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29 October 2002,Evening News; Cambridge, UK - Corn Exchange

City ballet shows its effortless flair

The Moscow City Ballet is at the Corn Exchange until tomorrow.
Review by SUREKA FERNANDO

THE Moscow City Ballet's performance of Giselle last night was a truly spectacular experience. Flawless footwork combined with imaginative choreography and passionate delivery to produce a magical and emotive performance.
The enchanting story tells of a peasant girl, Giselle, courted by a handsome young man, only to find that he is Count Albrecht, betrothed to a duchess. Dying of grief, she joins the Wilis of the forest, ghosts of women who have died of a broken heart.
A remorseful Albrecht returns to reclaim her and under the Wilis' spell he is forced to dance to the death, but he is saved from his fate by Giselle's love for him. He escapes broken-hearted, taking his leave of Giselle forever.
Victor Smirnov-Golovanov's imaginative version of this powerful tale was complemented by stunning costumes and superb sets.
Giselle's (Natalia Padalko) transformation from gleeful girl to a grief-stricken creature was astonishing and Alfrecht's (Talgat Kazhabaer) difficult footwork was executed with effortless flair.
The Moscow City Ballet's production of Swan Lake runs tonight and tomorrow at 7.30 pm.

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06 November 2002,The Herald; Glasgow, UK - King's Theatre

REVIEWS

DANCE

SWAN LAKE, KING'S THEATRE, GLASGOW
Mary Brennan

A PACKED house and rapturous applause - during, as well as after the performance - would suggest that there is definitely an audience for classical ballet in Glasgow. But then Swan Lake is one of those heritage classics, familiar by repute (and through Tchaikovsky's evergreen score) even among those who've never seen it on stage or screen.
Here is not the place to return to the simmering question of Scottish Ballet's future repertoire: but clearly companies such as Moscow City Ballet will be only too willing to add Glasgow's King's to their touring circuit if this the kind of responce - and box office - they can expect.
So, was the applause deserved? Yes and no. Yes, absolutely, for the corps de ballet Swans. The very sight of those massed white tutus, filling the entire with immaculate geometries, is forever otherworldly and magical. But the effect is significantly heightened when, as here, the Swans move as if controlled by one mind, one sensibility.
Every inclination of head, shoulder, arm - right through to angle of a resting foot - is harmoniously exact throughout the ranks of dancers.
They also have a crispness that isn't overly mannered either, which edges us towards the Jester, I'm afraid. There's no denying the athletic prowess of Roman Arkhypov as he leaps, bounds, and capers, but his attention-seeking antics, frankly, grate, especially when they threaten to upstage other dancers.
Nourlan Abougaliev's Prince Siegfried seemed a little stiff at first, but he partnered strongly and acted intelligently.
Gaukhar Ussina's long, long legs cut a fierce and wonderfully wicked dash as Odile; her Odette was less persuasive through technically adept. Not all of Victor Smirnov-Golovanov's choreographic tweaking are effective or attractive but overall this Swan Lake more than passes muster.
It runs until tomorrow night, followed by Sleeping Beauty on Friday and Saturday.

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09 November 2002,The Herald; Glasgow, UK - King's Theatre

REVIEWS

DANCE

SLEEPING BEAUTY , KING'S THEATRE, GLASGOW
Mary Brennan

A GLANCE at the company biography page reveals that Natalia Koungourtseva - last night's Aurora - only joined Moscow City Ballet this year. They must do all they can to hold on to her: her technique sparkles and delights, as does her acting. Her first appearance, as the 16-year-old Princes, has none of the saccharin girlishness that you sometimes see, especially from ballerinas too old to know any better. Koungourtseva (who's still in her twenties) allows Aurora a lovely, lively glow at being the centre of attention, even a little hint of minxish mischief as she flirtily dances form one smitten suitor to another. But none of this ever at the expense of the choreography, and when it comes to the crucial elements of the Rose Adage - those unsupported balances on one pointe - Koungourtseva is totally poised, unwavering. Her performance throughout is similarly assured, articulate in every detail and full of enchanting personality.
No wonder Nourlan Abougaliev is such a smiling Florimund - a role that seems to suit him better than Siegfried. Here, he is relaxed, debonair, eating up the stage with circling leaps that have good height and line.
In so many ways, this is a thoroughly handsome and enjoyable production. Marina Ivushkina's elegant Lilac Fairy, the witty nursery rhyme divertissements - with Khasan Usmanov's Bluebird and Gaukhar Ussina's Florina quite outstanding - and, as in Swan Lake, the meticulous synchronicity of the female corps-de-ballet, is a pleasure to watch. So much so, that minor quibbles, such as some of the odd choreographic "adjustments" or the orchestra's tendency to go for gusto over subtlety, are easily pushed aside.
The production's sets and costumes are distinctly classier than of yore, and that, together with an influx of very able new talent, has certainly transformed Moscow City Ballet from a company I didn't care for into one I will forward to seeing again. Run ends tomorrow.

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12 November 2002, Chronicle; Bath, UK - Theatre Royal

Traditional Russian dancing at its best

Swan Lake
Moscow City Ballet
Theatre Royal, Bath

REVIEW

IT is, of course, wonderful to see some great new work which one has never seen before. There is something very special about the dizzy excitement of theatrical anticipation.
But perhaps the best entertainment in the world is provided by something which we know and which we love, no matter how often we see it.
Something like Swan Lake, perhaps.
With Moscow City Ballet, which is in Bath with two different ballets this week, we have the extra advantage of seeing it beautifully danced.
It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that we are unlikely to see the role of Odette, Queen of the Swans, danced better than she was by Gaukhar Ussina last night. Those who were there soon realized that they were seeing something pretty special.
But it is a beautifully put together work all round with lots of vivid colour, sparkle and snowy whiteness. There is also, of course, Tchaikovsky's music which always sounds like an album of classical music's best known tunes.
Moscow City Ballet is famed for the perfection of its corps de ballet in the best tradition of the Russian school of classical ballet. Here are no gimmicks but ballet simply and beautifully performed as traditionalists would have it.
Swan Lake can be seen again on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tonight the company dances Sleeping Beauty.

Christopher Hansford.

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13 November 2002, Chronicle; Bath, UK - Theatre Royal

Fairy tale magic keeps audience on its toes

Sleeping Beauty
Moscow City Ballet
Theatre Royal, Bath

REVIEW

IT is amazing to reflect occasionally on just how fortunate we are in Bath to have the kind of reputation that brings some of the best entertainers in the world right to our very doorstep.
World class musicians, actors and dancers come to visit us on a regular basis playing, singing and dancing - for those fortunate enough to live in the city centre - within a few minutes' walk of our own sitting rooms.
This week we are fortunate that dancers from Moscow City Ballet have brought two of our favorite ballets to Bath including Sleeping Beauty, with wonderful music by Tchaikovsky, which opened last night.
True, if one wanted to be ultra critical, the stage is on the small size to hold such a large company but there was space enough to see some wonderful movements from this talented company, famed the world over for absolute perfection of its corps de ballet.
Rather lower key than Swan Lake with its dramatic ending, Sleeping Beauty is full of beautiful music and provides enough flexibility for the company to stamp its own personality on the well known fairy story.
But although dancing is what ballet is all about, it is also about weaving a bit of magic and, to that end, the look of the thing is vitally important too.
Here we have beautiful costumes and romantic, fairy tale sets which all combine to give an evening of pure escapism.
Moscow City Ballet dances Sleeping Beauty again this afternoon and this evening.


Christopher Hansford.

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13 November 2002, EVENING POST; Bristol, UK - Theatre Royal, Bath

Swan Lake is a mixed bag

REVIEW

Swan Lake, Moscow City Ballet
Theatre Royal, Bath

Artistic director Victor Smirnov - Golovanov formed the Moscow City Ballet in 1988 with the aim to promote the original ideas of the great 19th century choreographer.
Dancers are encouraged to define their own individual characters but always to stay faithful to the original choreography. Strangely with that in mind not all the choreography made full use of Tchaikovsky's wonderful score. Once or twice you felt that the tremendous excitement within the music was under-used.
At the heart of any production of Swan Lake is the dual role of Odette and Odile. A challenge to even the most experienced of ballerinas, this task fell to 22-year-old Gaukhar Ussina.
Technically her dancing may not yet be quite fully developed but her grasp of the dramatic elements in the twin roles was outstanding. She played Odile with a sensuality that made you long to see her play Carmen even if that is not considered to be a classical ballet.
The contrast with the warmth and love of Odette was striking. Talgat Kazhabaev provided strong support, his slightly self-effacing Prince Siegfried showing off Gaukhar to fine effect time after time.
The battle with German Blagoveshensky's a little less flamboyant than usual as Von Rothbart lacked a little fierce passion.
If your taste is for humour broadly played then Roman Arkhypov's performance will please you, if not you will find his Jester a little intrusive.
The company are justifiably proud of their corps de ballet who did excellent work on a stage that really wasn't quite big enough to allow them to completely show off their undoubted talents.
The production can be seen again on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Sleeping Beauty tonight.
___
* THE Moscow City Ballet performs Swan Lake tonight and tomorrow at 7.30pm, the Sleeping Beauty from Thursday to Saturday at 7.30pm, with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

GERRY PARKER

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14 November 2002, SOMERSET GUARDIAN; Bath, UK - Theatre Royal, Bath

The best in ballet

By Pip Larkham

THE MOSCOW City Ballet is visiting Bath for the first time this week to perform a sparkling double bill of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.
___
The acclaim given to Moscow City Ballet's international tours has established its reputation as one of the world's greatest ballet companies.
The ballet, together with the Moscow Ballet Orchestra, is at the Theatre Royal in Bath until Saturday.
The Moscow City Ballet is famed for the exquisite perfection of its corps de ballet in the best tradition of the Russian school of classical ballet.
The dazzling spectacle of a large cast of supremely skilled dancers, gorgeous costumes and magnificent staging combine to create a magical experience.
Victor Smirnov-Golovanov established Moscow City ballet in 1988.
During his career, he danced as a soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet for more than 20 years and served as chief ballet master at the Odessa Opera and ballet Theatre between 1970 and 1989.
Swan Lake is perhaps the best-loved classical ballet of all.
Tchaikovsky's score, coupled with the famous story of love, deception and tragedy, provides the perfect showcase for the artistry, grace and precision for which the company is renowned.
The enchanting and and romantic story of Sleeping Beauty inspired Tchaikovsky to write some of his most glorious music and this ballet has captivated audiences for more than 100 years.
A fairy-tale in the best Russian tradition, Sleeping Beauty features the delicate princess Aurora, her gallant prince Florimund, the Lilac Fairy and a host of magical characters.

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14 November 2002, EVENING POST; Bath, UK - Theatre Royal

Smooth, but not so exciting

Theatre Royal bath: Moscow City Ballet
presents Sleeping Beauty

THIS was Moscow City Ballet's 370th performance of Sleeping beauty and it showed in the smooth, deceptively effortless-seeming way in which this production unfolded.
Even on a stage which cramped their style a little this was a company who had every move well planned and completely under control.
Beautifully costumed and played in an attractive set designed by their artistic director, Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, the stage was full of ever-changing colourful patterns.
Natalia Koungourtseva brought a delicate doll like quality to her portrayal of Princess Aurora, which disguised the fact that she was a dancer with great physical strength as well as tremendous natural elegance.
There were few lifts in Marius Petipa's choreography between the Princess and Prince Florimund, which was just as well because Nourlan Abougaliev appeared far less confident in that department than he did in the rest of the partnership.
Apart from one or two moments when inhibited by a shortage of space, his solo work added excitement to the production.
As Dmitri Romanov added excitement as the evil-minded Carabosse to a production which was a little short on that ingredient but never lacked interest or elegance of movement.
The production can be seen again this evening and Swan lake tonight, tomorrow and Saturday.

GERRY PARKER

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14 November 2002, WESTERN DAILY PRESS; Bath, UK - Theatre Royal

Ballet duo

REVIEWS

Swan Lake & Sleeping Beauty
Bath Theatre Royal

VICTOR Smirnov-Golovanov, artistic director of the Moscow City Ballet, certainly knew what would attract audiences when he chose this double bill of Tchaikovsky ballets.
The contrasting styles complemented each other, encouraging the public to sample both productions. At the heart of them were two very different ballerinas.
In Swan Lake, Gaukhar Ussina was full of dramatic power and feline elegance in the dual role of Odette and Odile, while Natalia Koungourtseva brought cool, controlled graceful movement to her delicate portrayal of Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.
In both ballets the ladies have the more dominant roles and their respective lovers, Prince Siegfried and Prince Florimind, had to rely on their few solo opportunities to show their talents to the full - opportunities which Talgat Kozhabaev and Nourlan Abougaliev readily took.
This is a company that in the few short years it has been in existence (it was only formed in 1988) has already built up a reputation for fine work by the corps de ballet and in both productions at Bath they enhanced that reputation.
It takes hours of hard work to reach the standard of ensemble dancing that we saw with not even a finger, let alone a hand, arm or leg, out of position.
Like so many Eastern European companies these used their arms and hands to great effect, helping to bring an elegance of line to every movement.
These were not the most exciting productions but, steeped in tradition, they were always a joy to look at and brought great pleasure to their audiences.

RICHARD ADAMS

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15 November 2002, The Bath Alternative; Bath, UK - Theatre Royal

Swan Lake - Tchaikovsky

Moswcow City Ballet
Theatre Royal, Bath

The composer is Russian, the original choreographer was Russian, so who better to perform Swan Lake than Moscow City Ballet.
Much of Marius Petipa's original choreography remains in this colourful production with the music of Peter Tchaikovsky, his contemporary and collaborator.
The limitations of the Theatre Royal stage were slightly inhibiting factor, particularly for the male dancers, who one felt were capable of spectacular leaps and spins, if only they had a space.
There were moments when composure of the corps de ballet was threatened by some extremely close calls with the flying limbs of passing soloists.
But the judgement was pin sharp and we were treated to some exciting exhibitions of the art.
At first Gaukhar Ussina in the principal dual role of Odette/Odile seemed a little expressionless, although technically superb. But she switched on warmth and charm in the Odile role and the passion seemed to spill over into her later interpretation of Odette.
Talgat Kozhabaev who played Prince Siegfried, is a particularly tall man, who I am sure would have benefited from a much larger stage to show his true potential. Nevertheless he delivered a strong performance, full of feeling.
As his friend Benno, Khasan Usmanov showed grace and technical excellence which made some very complex choreography look deceptively easy.
No one worked harder, whether dancing or being an onlooker, than Roman Arkhypov as the Jester, a particularly Russian inclusion in the cast. His dance and clowing skills were superb, but in addition he never stopped communicating with the audience and with his fellow dancers with gestures and facial expression.
Artistic Director Victor Smirnov-Golovanov was responsible for some of the choreography and no doubt the almost perfectly co-ordinated corps de ballet. There really were no weak links.
Vissually it was exciting including the costumes and sets. The National Ballet Orchestra performed vigorously under the baton of igor Shavruk.
Swan Lake alternates with another Tchaikovsky favourite, The Sleeping Beauty during the week.rite,__

Jo Bayne

Sleeping Beauty - Tchaikovsky

Moswcow City Ballet
Theatre Royal, Bath

SUPERB as everyone else was, you have to give star of the show, Sleeping Beauty, award to the Moscow City Ballet Corps de Ballet: Unnamed, but justly highly applauded by a packed theatre.
Their unanimity, musical responses, en masse movement and elegant cohesiveness was the bedrock on which a stunning, graceful performance depended.
Small can be beautiful; and restrictive. And it was the way in which the company, liberally aided, no doubt, by the resourcefulness and professionalism of the Theatre Royal production team, overcame the limitations of the theatre that elevated this production to something out of the ordinary. Musically, too, there are limitations of size, but conductor Igor Shavruk, brought Tchaikovsky unobtrusive way, brought Tchaikovsky to mercurial life, highlighted by delicacy of flute, tingling harp and the soulful playing of leader Vadim Zilper.
The scenery was as seductive as the whole; there was a mirrored magic, an inimate warmth in miniature about the sequences and, despite the physical inhibitions, a personal interplay that was quintessential Russian romanticism.

Reg Burnard

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15 November 2002, THE WILTSHIRE TIMES; Bath, UK - Theatre Royal, Bath

Small is beautiful as Russians get to the point with Tchaikovsky

Swan Lake/Sleeping Beauty
Moscow City ballet
Theatre Royal, Bath

Russian Ballet has always been the standard to which dancers aspire. Judging from the Moscow City Ballet's sublime performance of Swan Lake, it does not take a genius to work out why.
These dancers display a depth of talent you feel fortunate to witness. Swan Lake was not only brought to life, but taken to whole new level.
The artistry, the costumes, the electricity - it was all there with plenty left over.
Russian born dancer Gaukhar Ussina was scintillating as tortured swan princess Odette. Her stage presence was unbelievable.
Dancing scenes are grand beyond belief with the court jester's antics breaking-up the feel of pomp and circumstance. His amateur gymnastics often left the audience in fits of laughter.
Moscow City Ballet Company has performed Swan lake 437 times - practice really does make perfect.

CE ___

SUPERB as everyone else was, the star of Sleeping Beauty award goes to the Moscow City Ballet Corps de Ballet: Unnamed, but justly highly applauded by a packed theatre.
Their unanimity, musical responses, en masse movement and elegant cohesiveness was the bedrock on which a stunning, graceful performance depended.
Small can be beautiful; and restrictive. And it was a way the company, liberally aided, no doubt, by the resourcefulness and professionalism of the Theatre Royal production team, overcame the limitations of the theatre that elevated this production to something out of the ordinary.
Musically, too, there are limitations of size, but conductor Igor Shavruk, brought Tchaikovsky unobtrusively to mercurial life, highlighted by delicacy of flute, tingling harp and the soulful playing of leader Vadim Zilper.
The scenery was as seductive as the whole and despite the physical limitations, a personal interplay of quintessential Russian romanticism.

Reg Burnard.

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19 November 2002, The Press and Journal; Aberdeen, UK - His Majesty's Theatre

Swan Lake is the perfect showcase

REVIEW by Roddy Philips

The Moscow City Ballet is renowned for its highly disciplined, beautifully-formed Corps de Ballet and I can't think of a better showcase for them than Swan lake. Watching them dance at HM Theatre in Aberdeen last night you would almost have thought they were gorgeous clones, each one as fragile as the next.
True, there is tradition here, pomp and ceremony - classical ballet enthusiasts know Swan Lake almost as well as the dancers, but there is also integrity in this production and plenty of magic.
Roman Arkhypov's Jester almost steals the first scene but the evening belongs to Natalia Koungourtseva as Odette and Odile.
Swan Lake plays again tonight and tomorrow night at HMT.

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19 November 2002, EVENING EXPRESS (final edition); Aberdeen, UK - His Majesty's Theatre

Classical in every way

REVIEW

SONJA RAMSMUSSEN saw Moscow City ballet
perform Swan Lake at His Majesty's Theatre

THERE'S not much Russia needs to learn about classical ballet. And as for Swan Lake - well, let's face it, they invented it.
Danced to the much-loved music of Tchaikovsky, played sensitively by The National Ballet Orchestra, everything about this production makes it a classic.
Row upon row of exquisitely-dressed dancers make up the corps de ballet, rehearsed to perfection and performing as one in the Dance of Swans and the ballroom scenes.
Prince Seigfried is portrayed by Nourlan Abougaliev, whose chiselled features and athletic physique give him a commanding presence, while Natalia Koungourtseva is quite captivating as Odette/Odile.
Staged on backcloths painted in Bolshoi Studio and choreographed in true Russian style by Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, this is the stuff little girls' dreams are made of.

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22 November 2002, ADVERTISE; Aberdeen, UK - His Majesty's Theatre

The Magic of Swan Lake

THEATRE REVIEW

by the Culture Vultures (Karin Coltart and Jane Clark)

FOR MOST ballet fans, Swan lake usualy appears at, or near, the top of their favourites list.
Therefore the crowds at Monday's production by the Moscow City Ballet, under the artistic direction of Victor Smirnov-Golovanov came as no surprise. His interpritation was spectacular and very traditional, eith lavish, sugar-spun confecions for costumes and sumptuously detailed backdrops to set the scenes.
The use of lighting took the audience from a bright party to the hauntingly beautiful wooded lakeside with ease.
Thchaikovsky's famous score was handled well by the orchestra, and particularly the harp, which evoked a combination of love and distress as Odette/Odile (natalia Koungourtseva) and Prince Siegfried (Nourlan Abougaliev) struggled in vain with the wonderfully evil Von Rothbart (german Blagoveshensky).
One cannot fail to admire the Corps de Ballet in Swan Lake, as they spend the bulk of Acts 2 and 4 not dancing, but standing gracvefully still. Last night they were like beautiful statues cast from the same mould.
The Moscow City Ballet are also performing Sleeping Beauty during their week long stay in Aberdeen.
If Monday night is anything to go by, it would be well worthwhile to look them up if you have the chance.

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29 January 2002, THE SENTINEL; Stoke-on-Trent, UK - Regent Theatre

REVIEW

BALLET

The Nutcracker

Regent Theatre, Hanley

MOSCOW City Ballet's production of The Nutcracker, which opened last night, was thoroughly traditional and highly enjoyable.
The company was launched by Victor Smirnov-Golovanov - now its Artistic Director - in 1989 and his direction showed in the crisp, flowing artistry of the dancers.
The Regent's big stage certainly helped. There was ample room for all the action, which helped the pas-de-deux and the divertissements.
The divertissements were all spectacular, but the Chinese dance was quite dazzling.
Elena Osokina and Talgat Kozhabaev made an attractive pairing as Clara and the Nutcracker Prince.
Igor Shavruk, who conducted the English National Orchestra, obviously knows Tchaikovsky's glowing score inside out.
The Nutcracker continues at the Regent until Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, Moscow City Ballet perform Prokofiev's Cinderella.

Eric Snape.

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01 February 2002, STOKE - Stage;Stoke-on-Trent, UK - Regent Theatre (http://www.bbc.co.uk)

BBCi

STOKE Stage

January 2002

Nutcracker is ... er ... cracker!

Chris Ramsden falls in love with a ballet - and a ballerina... ==============================================

___Christmas came a little late to Stoke-on-Trent this year. Let's face it, Christmas TV was awful, and I haven't been to a panto since I figured out he was always behind you. But Moscow city Ballet's Nutcracker makes up for all that.This Christmas box has lovely music, sparkling costumes, and of course, lots of action. Put upwards of 30 people on stage at a time, all in movements, and you're sure of creating a stir.At first I though the orchestra was going to be a disappointment. It is pretty weak affair when Tchaikovsky's glorious music thrives on the big strings and multiple brass of a full symphony orchestra.
___
And there is so much good music in this ballet - not just the numbers we know and love like the Sugarplum Fairy. Tchaikovsky's are the ballets you can go to just for the music. Still, the band may be small but it is perfectly formed; it was only really a problem in the overtures. I am not qualified to talk about the dancing. I always thought that if they didn't fall over, it must be good. But last night, the prima ballerina did fall over - and it didn't matter.
Not only did she recover quickly but she was so beautiful, fragile, and graceful that, like me, most of the men in the audience were prepared to go on stage to comfort her, given half a chance.
This was the very first night of a run that takes the ballet to Belfast, Chichester, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Woking, Canterbury, Bromley, Poole, Brighton and Richmond by mid-April, and the company's not quite adjusted to Britain yet.
But if you want Christmas all over again - or to celebrate next Christmas early - get Santa to give you a ticket to the Regent.

Chris Ramsden

And how did the Moscow ballet's other production - of Prokofiev's Cinderella - go? Chris e-mailed us this update...
By Friday, the Moscow City Ballet were on Stoke on Trent time -- and full form.
Prokofiev's music is spiky and modern -- so it suited the smaller orchestra much better than the Tchaikovsky. The dancing was less classical and much more athletic, and the dancers plainly enjoyed the extra challenge.
The shoe fit, by the way.

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02 February 2002, BALLET.CO MAGAZINE review; Stoke-on-Trent, UK - Regent Theatre (http:\\www.ballet.co.uk)

BALLET.CO MAGAZINE

MOSCOW CITY BALLET

"CINDERELLA"

January 2002
Stoke-on-Trent, Regent

by Trog

(The following is as it appeared on the Ballet.co Postings Page)


A quick spin up the motorway in the driving rain found Trog in Stoke-on-Trent to see the Moscow City Ballet at the Regent Theatre. The Regent is one of the better provincial theatres; it has a old world elegance, which is missing from many of the newer theatres.

Moscow City Ballet are currently touring Nutcrackers and Cinderellas untilApril, with a couple of Swan Lakes thrown in. The idea of The Nutcracker appearing in April means they are either trying to extend last years Christmas spirit for as long as possible, or make damn sure they first cab off the rank for this year.

Most of these smaller ballet companies have a one good male dancer, while the rest of the chaps do little more than hold the ladies hands. The MCB features a full complement of male dancers, at least 12 by my counting. While one of the chaps is definitely a much better dancer than the rest, the others do a reasonable job. I especially liked the role of the ballet master, one of the King's advisers. The Prince is quite a strong dancer, showing good elevation. Sadly there were no cast sheets on offer, so I can't put names to the faces.

This particular Cinderella is presented in two acts with eight scenes. Choreography is Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, the AD of the company. The costumes are gorgeous, very brightly coloured, mostly in shades of purple. This just happens to be Trogs favourite colour, so no complaints by me in the design department. The set is a nice simple painted affair, consisting of a central archway, with a large clock face above. For the scenes in Cinderella's cottage, a fireplace appears stage right and a dressing table stage left.

The ugly sisters are far too pretty; Trog would have been happy to have taken them home. Actually Trog would like to take all of the dancers home, but that is another story. The only other production of Cinderella I have seen had the ugly sisters danced by two men. This reminded me too much of pantomime dames, so perhaps the good looking ugly sister is a better idea. The step-mother does a good job of being the maitre de; acting very formidably. She looked to me as though she relished this role and was giving it a good go. Cinder's dad is suitably down trodden. I can' say I remember him appearing in the story my Dad read to me as I was tucked up in bed.

The company use a live orchestra, which is a very nice touch, especially as most smaller companies uses CD's. Touring with a full orchestra and a full ballet company is a logistic nightmare. Very well done I say. This is a Prokofiev score that you don't hear every day of the week (unlike R&J) so it made a very nice change. In fact I had forgotten what a lovely score it is.

The grand pdd danced by the Prince and Cinderella at the ball is very nice; in addition to the usual penchees and pirouettes, there are some very pretty low lifts. We usually only see high lifts in a pdd, on account of them being more spectacular. The low lift is so under-utilised. This is one of the nicest pdd's I have seen in a long time. Very romantic and almost tender in places.

The clock is represented by dancers in gold tights and boots, and tunics with Roman numerals on them. They circle, holding hands, with every alternative dancer (the girls), holding their leg over their arms. It is quite a surreal scene, especially the final pose. I though it worked well in representing a clock. There was the works (the dancers circling with interlocked hands), the dial (their costumes) and the chiming of midnight (the final big lift).

After Cinders dashes out and looses her slipper, the Prince and the King go on a world tour to find the foot that fits the shoe. This scene is quite silly, with them ensconced in a carriage at the back of the stage, the four advisers dancing centre stage and some chaps doing repeated plies in second down the wings as horses. I was immediately reminded of Monty Python's Holy Grail (lots of silly knees-bent running about), and I don't think I was alone.

The first destination is the Island of The Corsairs, which consists of some chaps with boleros and short scimitars, and one lady in a Spanish-style skirt and hairdo, and a bare midriff. While this was a nice scene, it did nothing for the story. The Prince rushing out of the coach, waving the shoe at the lady dancer and rushing off again. A similar scene was repeated with the Middle East featuring a harem girl.

The final pdd was really an ensemble, with the fairies, the ugly sisters, the step-mother and, of course, Cinderella and the Prince all taking a turn. A tableau to end a nice ballet.

While not up to the technical standard of the other touring companies (BRB, ENB and NBT), the MCB presented a nice evening of ballet. If they are in your area, they are worth a look.

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05 February 2002, THE SENTINEL; Stoke-on-Trent, UK - Regent Theatre

CHILDREN TAKE POINTERS FROM PROFESSIONALS

___CHILDREN from two dancing schools saw the professionals in action when they got the chance to witness the Moscow City Ballet during rehearsals and performances.

Company director Victor Smirnov invited pupils from Perfect Pointes in Northwood and the Gloria Harrison School of Dance in Tunstall to watch rehearsals for The Nutcracker at The Regent Theatre in Hanley.
The ballet company was so impressed by the enthusiasm of the five to 14-year-olds that they invited them back again to watch rehearsals for Cinderella.
_
Perfect Pointes teacher Sarah Kearney said: "It was the first time anyone in the UK had seen this version of Cinderella and the children were thrilled. It was absolutely fantastic."

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05 February 2002, BELFAST TELEGRAPH; Belfast, UK - Grand Opera House

REVIEW

A graceful delight

Swan Lake

Grand Opera House

The last time I was at the ballet, I owned my own pumps and wanted to be Margot Fonteyn when I grew up. Last night's opening of Tchaikovsky's Russian classic brought back some of the magic.
The Moscow City Ballet performed a classical rendering of the immortal love story, complete with willowy, fluttering swans, handsome muscular courtiers and an Odette - the tragic Queen of the swans - to engage the audience's emotions.
To my untrained eye, Odette (Elena Zhavoronkova) was the mature dancer opposite her young Prince Siegfried (Talgat Kozhabaev). She soared and spread her wings in a series of demanding, but beautifully executed, solos.
He remained eclipsed by her, but nevertheless exuded a boyish charm and grace of movement that complemented her starry quality well.
The supporting dancers lent a strong contribution, in particular the Jester (Roman Arkhpov), Benno (Sergey Zolotarev) and the eight cygnets who delighted a packed house with bursts of innovative choreography. Their bodies mimicked the arching beauty of swans so closely at times, necks craning, arms beating the air, that you were willingly drawn in to the fantasy.
It's probably fair to say the the Moscow City is not the Kirov, in terms of sheer panache. A few hairy moments had me on the edge of my seat, especially when the Jester pirouetted for what seemed like an unnaturally long amount of time. I couldn't believe he would not be dizzy by the end and, sure enough, he had to reach out a hand to steady himself.
But let's not look a gift horse (swan?) in the mouth. Belfast has little enough ballet or opera as it is. It was lovely to sit in our own
GOH among an excited crowd and watch the curtain go up on something so different and ambitious.
Judging by the enthusiastic response of the audience, the GOH can probably look forward to busy run.

Una Bradley.

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07 February 2002, NEWSLETTER; Belfast, UK - Grand Opera House

Arts By Ian Hill

Timeless classic can still enchant

What's a lad to do when faced between true love and having a good time?

TCHAIKOVSK'S ballet Swan Lake, set mainly to Ivanov's and Petipa's original choreography, can become a mechanical affair in the wrong hands, the chorus but a platoon of rictus smiles, the principals self-regarding divas.
But not so with Moscow City Ballet's delightful production, directed with empathy by Victor Snirnov-Golovanov, playing the Grand Opera House.
For here the settings is some rural Ruritanian Camelot where the handsome prince, back from his public school, has little taste for anything but huntin', shootin', fishin' and drinkin' till, out on a midnight wander in the woods after a sackful of sack, he imagines a white swan turning into the stunning virginal Odette in the obverse of the Greek legend where the male swan ravishes the human maiden.
But the devisish Von Rothbart, German by name, black by costume, would rather her married his daughter, the racy Odile, who, just by chance, is Odette's double. So, what's a lad to do when faced between true love and having a good time?
The costumes by Elizaveta Dvorkina are ravishing, from the candy floss pinks of the courtiers to the whiter-than-white feathery tutus of the swans, whose every elegant movement speaks of the noble birds.
The English National Orchestra, under conductor Igor Shavruk, adopts a suitably provincial tone, particularly in the brass, and the score is packed with teasers of tunes later appropriated by Hollywood and West End musicals.
But it is surely Elena Zhavoronkova's poignant, doomed Odette and her seductive Odile who run away with the evening. For, an accomplished actress as well as a most elegantly persuasive dancer, she stole the audience's collective hearts, when they weren't being enchanted by Roman Arkhypov's scene-stealing court Jester. Purists weren't sure if they counted the requisite 32 fouettes in the seduction scene.
Talgat Kozhabaev's Prince, some will find too ill-integrated in the action. Others wondered why Arkhypov takes no curtain call, but these are minor distractions.
Till Saturday, Grand Opera House.

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11 February 2002, IRISH TIMES; Belfast, UK - Grand Opera House

Elegant swans, Purple days

After the lean years of the past decade or so, what a joy it is to see substantial resources going back into Russian ballet, so that sumptuous productions like this can tour the world and bring the magic of classical white ballet to new international audiences.
Moscow City Ballet's traditional Swan Lake starts to work its spell from the ground up, beginning with artistic director Victor Smirnov-Golovanov's dramatic, gloriously painted backcloths, clearly inspired by Leon Bakst and the Ballets Russes.
They find perfect accompaniment in Elizaveta Dvorkina's swirling costumes of embroidered russet velvets, pearly tulle and the heart-breakingly pure, unadorned white of the swan maidens.
Then comes the corps de ballet, young, focused and perfectly in harmony. Some may not be the conventional build for classical dancers, but they perform as a well-drilled, coherent ensemble, with some budding principals in their ranks.
Surprisingly, it is within the starry ranks of the soloists that the emotional level drops a notch or two. Elena Zhavoronkova dances with absolute control and technical brilliance, her Odette ice-cold and devoid of emotion, her Odile spikily bewitching. She is advanced in years and experience and shows up Talgat Kozhabaev's rather wooden Siegfried, whose solos reveal the fine dancer beneath the nervous exterior and who, eventually, convinces in his portrayal of a young man caught up in an unattainable sexual fantasy.
But one senses little passion or connection between the two, and it is left to the enchanting Elena Osokina to light the touchpaper on the evening, performing both the Spanish solo and her role as the girlfriend of Sergey Zolotarev's pixie-like Benno with thrilling tensile strength and beguiling, confident charm.

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12 February 2002, PORTSMOUTH NEWS; Chichester, UK - Festival Theatre

Enough to banish winter blues

FRONT ROW

The Nutcracker

Chichester Festival Theatre

IT may be February but we are not too far away from Christmas to enjoy a festive treat like this.
The Moscow City Ballet present this classic tale which has long been a favourite with families.
It's bright and cheerful, with a simple plot and a hearty dose of magic to banish winter blues.
The first half is hectic and flies by but there is too much going on and the principal dancers are sometimes drowned out by all the comings and goings of the corps. The second half is altogether more stylish and relaxed, showing off the dancing talents of Ekaterine Selskaya as Clara and Nurlan Abugaliev as the Nutcracker Prince.
However, Victor Smirnov-Golovanov's choreography is stilted and unadventurous.
But these low points are soon forgotten when you combine Tchaikovsky's score with highlights like the flower fairy solos. Until Saturday.

PHILLIPPA ARNELL

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14 February 2002, CHICHESTER OBSERVER; Chichester, UK - Festival Theatre

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENTS

Festive fantasy is a winner

REVIEW

A glittering production of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker added sparkle to bustery February night and brought Christmas back to Chichester.
Set on Christmas eve, the well-loved tale of festive fantasy captivated the audience with with wonderful performances from Moscow City Ballet's young cast.
To the many young girls watching in awe at the Festival Theatre, elphin-like Ekaterina Selskaya, who played lead Clara, must have seemed like a princess.
More so when she danced dazzlingly with her Nutcracker Prince, movingly performed by Nurlan Abugaliev.
A lively first scene crackled with colour and energy, enlivening a rather uninspired set, as Clara's godfather Drosselmeyer - a charismatic Dmitry Romanov - performed his magic, bringing toys to life.
Clever choreography gave maximum menace to a gang of mice with glittering eyes and saw entertaining fights between the Mouse-King and Nutcracker.
Act 2, set in the Kingdom of Flowers showcased the talents of the lead performers and brought the evocative music of the accompanying English National Orchestra into its own.
The sumptuous costumes looked more ornate and exotic set against the sugar almond prettiness of the superb supporting ballerinas.
Comic turns, enchantment and classic Chocolate box ballet scenes made this the perfect winter pick-me-up.

Sue Gilson

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21 February 2002, MILTON KEYNES CITIZEN; Milton Keynes, UK - MK Theatre

Spellbinding spectacle of Russian folktale

PREPARE to be transported to the magical land of Russian folktale by Moscow City Ballet at Milton Keynes Theatre this week with their spectacular productions of The Nutcracker and Cinderella.
With sumptuous costumes and scenery, The Nutcracker is a fairytale ballet in the best Russian tradition, an influence that is skillfully and artistically imparted by the Moscow City Ballet performance.
The spellbinding spectacle of the Corps de Ballet performing the Dance of the Snowflakes at the end of Act I, together with the Flower Fairies Dance in Act II, is only to be eclipsed by the wonderful skill and style of Elena Osokina as Clara and Talgat Kozhabaev as the Nutcracker Prince, while Dmitry Romanov, as the enigmatic Drosselmeyer, exhibits masterly command of proceeding as the enchanting tale of The Nutcracker unfolds.
Special mention must be made for the Cherry Flower Fairy's escorts, whose whiriling aerial acrobatics elicited spontaneous applause from an entranced audience.
By popular demand Moscow City Ballet has eturned to Milton Keynes Theatre with 'a perfect treat for first time attenders to ballet and dedicated fans' alike with two 'beautifully danced' productions.
You still have time to catch the final performance of The Nutcracker this evening, and the classic tale of the put-upon Cinderella on Friday and Saturday, which, if The Nutcracker is anything to go by, will be a must for all traditional ballet lovers. Enjoy.
For details of performance times and to book tickets call Milton Keynes Theatre on MK 606090.

Laura Sobey.

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22 February 2002, Buckingham and Winslow Advertiser; Milton Keynes, UK - MK Theatre

REVIEWS

_____MAGNIFICENT sets and costumes, favourite characters like the Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King - they are all the elements of the classic ballet The Nutcracker.
___
Mix those with the stunning dancing of the Moscow City Ballet and a beautiful score by Tchaikovsky and you have a spectacular evening's entertainment.
___
And The Nutcracker, at Milton Keynes Theatre, until tomorrow, Saturday, certainly doesn't disappoint!
___
Costumes and sets are truly sumptuous, while the interpretation by choreographer Victor Smirnov-Golovanov is stunning.
And with the accompaniment of the English National Orchestra, this performance is a real treat.
The audience were truly enenthralled by the energy and enthusiasm of the dancers, while the principals are terrific.
Elena Osokina as the heroine Clara is exquisite and magical, while Talgat Kozhabaev as the Nutcracker Prince produces a performance full of zest and athleticism.
And with Dmitry Romanov supporting those two with a superb exhibition as Clara's godfather Drosselmeyer, it is definetely one not to miss.

Barry Abraham.

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22 February 2002, Oxford Times; Milton Keynes, UK - MK Theatre

Good looking... Moscow City Ballet offered a very decorative production of The Nutcracker at the Milton Keynes Theatre earlier in the week. Tonight and tomorrow the company dances Cinderella.

Dance
___________

MOSCOW CITY BALLET

The council may long since have collected your Christmas tree for recycling, but a full house for The Nutcracker at Milton Keynes Theatre proved that Tchaikovsky's ballet doesn't need to be packed away with the decorations on Twelfth Night.
___
Talking of decorations, Moscow City Ballet's set boasts a fine collection (designer, Natalia Povago), ranging from multicoloured twinkling lights on he tree to giant silver balls hanging overhead. And snowy, painted backcloth completes the picture - although, curiously, snowflakes actually fall in an unusual shade of yellow. On comes Clara (a beautifully light-footed, enthusiastic performance from Elena Osokina), followed by her godfather Drosselmeyer. Dmitry Romanov's Drosselmeyer is never an old man muttering over his magic spells, he's tall and handsome and leaps every bit as high rival, the Nutcracker Prince. But there are definitely two sides to his character: happy smiles and a knowing wink when dancing with girls are replaced by a dangerous leer, worthy of Alan Rickman at his most sinister, when he's crossed. Talgat Kozhabaev's Prince starts a little woodenly but soon develops an impressively fluid partnership with Clara. Victor Smirnov-Golovanov makes quite a few changes to Petipa's original choreography. On the minus side, the Sugar Plum Fairy is strangely dumped altogether, with her dance being allocated to Clara. On the plus side, he has great fun with his army of scurrying mice, at one point frightening them off the stage with a spectacularly exploding cannon. Selected mice are then recalled to the front of the stage to check out what is going on in the orchestra pit; quite appreciate this, as the band does have its shaky moments, although it displays an admirably light touch too. But perhaps Moscow City's principal current asset is their large female corps de ballet. Discipline here is truly impressive, yet the dancers still appear to enjoy their work. This augurs well for Prokofiev's Cinderella, which is being staged tonight and tomorrow.

Giles Woodforde.

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26 February 2002, Eastern Evening News; Norwich, UK - Theatre Royal

REVIEW

Moscow City Ballet's Swan Lake at Theatre Royal

MORECAMBE and Wise afforded about as much dignity to their treatment of classical ballet as they did to poor old Grieg's piano concerto.
___
The Generation Game has equally derived much pleasure from forcing its hapless contestants to clod-hop their red-faced way through the best-known sequences.
___
But such is the spellbinding quality of the real McCoy that it is more than capable of withstanding a little light-hearted lampooning - especially when placed in the athletic hands, legs and feet of the brilliant Moscow City Ballet.
___
Few things in life turn out to be how you imagined them - last night's lavish production of Swan Lake was very much the exception.
The enchanting music of Tchaikovsky's first ballet contains many familiar favourites beautifully played by the English National Orchestra.
And the breathtaking palace and lakeside sets plus a galaxy of dazzling costumes contribute to the magic and colour of a grand spectacle.
Throw in the grace, poise, power and balance of the 30-strong cast and the show is a sure-fire winner. Undisputed stars are Elena Zhavoronkova as the Queen of the Swans, Talgat Kozhabayev as handsome prince Siegfried, and Dmitri Romanov as the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart.
Swan Lake continues tonight and twice tomorrow followed by Cinderella from Thursday to Saturday.

Trevor Burton.

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07 March 2002, Woking News & Mail; Woking, UK - New Victoria Theatre

STATE OF THE ARTS
_____________________

Back to tradition

IT was a very grown up interpretation of the Nutcracker that delighted Woking audiences at the New Victoria Theatre this week.
___
On a stage rich in colour and bathed in light, the natural quality of dancers trained in the grand Russian tradition enabled the true theatricality of the work to shine through.
___
Much of the pantomime and child indulgent pastiche of classical ballet, seen in some seasonal renditions, was swept away in this honest to its tradition production by the Moscow City Ballet.
___
The company's short visit to Woking, part of an extensive UK tour, will see Cinderella with music by Prokofiev fill the ample stage of the New Victoria on Friday and Saturday.
Get tickets if you can and you will experience a precious gem of Russia's national heritage.
Founder of the Moscow City Ballet, Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, says that he formed the company with the aim of promoting the original ideas of the great 19th century choreographers.
He describes his choreography of the Nutcracker as being "after the original by Marius Petipa".
It certainly felt right to a lapsed balletomane, with the confident soloists displaying bags of character and charisma in their roles, speaking out to a happy and enthralled audience with smile, snarl and meaningful gesture.
___Of course, the renowned corps de ballet is the proud creation of chief ballet mistress (and Victor's wife) Ludmilla Nerubashenko.
___It must be a great discipline building environment for young ballerinas.
___Listening to Tchaikovsky's music played by an orchestra of chamber proportions is itself revealing.
___We get so used to hearing recorded versions of the more popular numbers blasted out by symphonic armies of lush strings, brass and wind it becomes a special experience to hear the detail again.
___Sacrilege I know, but suddenly it explained my affection for Duke Ellington's jazzy interpretation of the second act solos.
___One quibble I am afraid.
___Considering this is a company on the road the sets work astoundingly well, but the opening scene revealed a bulb out on one of sconces.
___I know I suffer from a light fetish, but the missing twinkle grabbed my attention for far too long.\\\\

Roger Ramage.

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22 March 2002, Croydon Advertiser; Bromley, UK - Churchill Theatre

REVIEW
_____________________

This company's version of The Nutcracker was the sort of production which makes little girls dream of growing up to become ballerinas.
___
It was a fairytale spectacle: glittering with opulence, romance and above all technical artistry which made one gasp in wonder.
___
The Russian girls in the large corps de ballet are exquisitely lissom, fantasy creatures at their pretties in rose pink for the second act, during which they provided so much more than mere set dressing.
___
Every choreographer has his own ideas and brings a new interpretation to this timeless story of a little girl's magical Christmas.
The ballet opened with a lavish party scene at which Clara's godfather (Dmitry Romanov as a characterful Drosselmeyer) appeared first disguised as Santa Claus with a sack of toys for the children, and then as a magician with three life-sized dolls: a Nutcracker soldier, a Mouse King, and a delightfully stiff-limbed doll.
The festive atmosphere of childlike excitement was very strong and the growing Christmas tree festooned with lights looked wonderful.
After a nightmarish battle between armies of mice and soldier, Clara found herself in a pine forest where the dancers portrayed ranks of snowflakes with beauty and precision.
This ballet contains some of Tchaikovsky's best loved music (played here by the English National Orchestra), with that for the brief but exiting national dancers among the most memorable.
___The Cossacks were less vigorous than some I have seen but the Arabians were sensual and hypnotic while the smiling Chinese were wonderfully inventive with some gravity-defying leaps.
___Ekaterina Selskaya was more than equal to the role of Clara and also danced the sequence traditionally performed by the Sugar Plum Fairy.
___By the time this review appears The Nutcracker will be over, but the same company present Cinderella, with music by Prokofiev, tonight (Friday) at 7.45pm and Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.45pm. Word is that there are very few tickets remaining.
___

Diana Eccleston.

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27 March 2002, Kentish Gazette; Canterbury, UK - The Marlowe Theatre

Style and substance

The Sleeping Beauty
Moscow City Ballet
The Marlowe Theatre

WHAT a feast of wonderful dancing by a superb company!
___
In this traditional production of an old favourite, the dresses and costumes delighted the eye with paste colours in the first half and more positive hues in the second.
___
Add plush set designs, effective lighting and a splendid orchestra and the result was a most pleasing evening.
___
Most of this company's dancers are young and The Sleeping Beauty offers the chance for many soloists to show their paces. Almost all of them displayed a rock-solid technique, the result of years of rigorous training in the classic Russian tradition.
The overall standart was high with self-discipline manifest. From so much impeccable, stylish dancing it is perhaps unfair to highlight a few dancers but for me praise is due to Elena Osokina, a petite, lovely and highly-accomplished dancer who captivated the full house in the demanding role of the Princess.
Elena Zhavoronkova's Lilac fairy was appropriately cast in a different mould, with measured and immaculate dancing.
Equally good was Talgat Kozhabaev's Prince, whose physique and style has some echoes of Nureyev. And a special mention should go to the animated dancing of Nurzhan Iskaliev as Bluebird.
But I have a serious niggle, from my seat (E31), I looked straight into the wings at front stage right. Busy stage hands and waiting artistes were a big distraction.
This would be inexcusable in amateur production - it is deplorable in a professional company.

Donald Hollins.

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27 March 2002, Daily Echo; Poole, UK - Poole Arts Centre, Towngate Theatre

REVIEWS
_____________________

Stomp Lake still a delight

Swan Lake - Moscow City Ballet, Towngate Theatre, Poole

IF you've never been to the ballet before, then now's the time to break the habit of a lifetime.
___
For here's an excellent company showcasing its talents in one of the best-loved ballets ever.
___
Swan Lake is a highly accessible work of great beauty and poignancy - but there's also spectacle, sparkle and joyful high spirits. And when it's danced as well as this, the experience is one to cherish.
___
I'd expected a scaled-down affair but this Swan Lake has very much the stamp of a big production. It looks great, the costumes are sumptuous and the sizeable orchestra gives a fine account of Tchaikovsky's sublime music.
Talgat Kozhabaev is a handsome, supple Prince Siegfried who dances with youthful fervour and expressiveness while Elena Zhavoronkova brings great eloquence and subtlety to dual roles of Odette and Odile.
Roman Arkhypov makes a big impression as the Jester with a gleefully camp performance which put me in mind of Graham Norton, while Dmitry Romanov exudes a suitably malevolent air as Von Rothbart.
The dance of the four cygnets and those of the would-be brides and their retinues are among other pleasures.
Perhaps the only drawback to enjoying this performance in the relatively intimate setting of the Towngate is that we sometimes hear the footwork as well as admire it - an intrusion that detracts from one or two of the larger ensemble sequences.

David Ross.

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03 April 2002, The Argus; Brighton, UK - Theatre Royal

A Russian fairytale

Moscow City Ballet: The Nutcracker and Cinderella, Theatre Royal, New Road, Brighton, until April 6

THE Russians are back and they have certainly captured my heart.
___
These Russians are in the very shapely form of the Moscow City Ballet and they are in Brighton with new productions of the Nutcracker and Cinderella.
___
The new Nutcracker is a slightly updated version of Tchaikovsky's fabulous work.
___The updating won't upset traditionalists too much - it's just some of the costumes in Act One seem to be from the Twenties.
___It is noisy, highly colourful and great, great fun with some of the finest dancing I have seen in a long while.
___The colours are beautifully fresh: Lots of scarlet, blues, mauves, greens and whites that are so white they come across like freshly-formed ice - ice with that bluish tinge.
___This is a fast and furious Nutcracker. Possibly too furious in that the music is quite heavily amplified which delivers some distortion from the horns of the English National Orchestra.
___But conductor Igor Shavruk keeps up a fast pace and his dancers are at one with him.
___Tchaikovsky's tunes come from the heart and any hearer cannot help but be ravished by them.
___Overall, this production is a breathtaking, whirlwind of colour and vibrant dance. Legs flash, feet seem like a blur and everything is fine with the world.
___This Christmas Eve tale of toys coming alive and dolls leaping around like gazelles has always been a favourite and, whether you are nine or 90, you will be swept up in the magic.
___It is an ensemble company but I fell in love with Katerina Romanov's Clara, who dances as beautifully as she looks - and she looks stunning.
___And one of the great delights of this company is that it has eschewed the generally angular looks of ballet dancers, giving us women who are soft and beautiful as well as being highly skilled.
___The men, too, are no slouches when it comes to the skills required, easily tossing the women around and matching them step for step.
___You get a great deal of dance for your money in the Nutcracker and the various national dancers are done to perfection.
___This is great, high-energy stuff that will amaze and delight. It left me breathless.
The Nucracker continues until tomorrow. Prokofiev's Cinderella is on Friday and Saturday. Call 01273 328488.

Mike Howard.
features@theargus.co.uk

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10 April 2002, The Argus; Brighton, UK - Theatre Royal

Leaving Brighton on a high note

CINDERELLA: MOSCOW CITY BALLET, Theatre Royal, New Road, Brighton, last week

MOSCOW CITY BALLET as it had arrived, on a high note and with my heart in its pocket.
___
Its closing piece, Sergei Prokofiev's Cinderella, was one of the most pleasing ballet productions I have seen in a long while.
___
It told the story traditionally but with lashings of energy, colour and enthusiasm.
___Mime, too, played a great part as the dancers used not only their steps but every part of their body to make their point crystal clear.
___Of special note was the King, danced by Dmitri Romanov, who seemed to have springs in his ankles, and the stepmother, Alexandra Moiseenko, a fine comedy dancer of great fervour and poise.
___Indeed, she and her appalling daughters Skinny and Dumpy (Maria Savina and Inna Spiridonova) stole virtually every scene they were in, threatening to eclipse the beautiful and delicately-played Cinderella of Elena Osokina.
___With the amplification that marred The Nutcracker earlier in the week now solved, the English National Orchestra, under Igor Shavruk, did magnificent stuff in the pit.
___Please bring this company back soon.

Mike Howard.

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12 April 2002, Times; Richmond, UK - Richmond Theatre

Occasionally fluttering in pink

THERE is enchantment on offer at Richmond Theatre this week because the Moscow City Ballet in town.
___
For the first half of the week they were presenting The Nutcracker with the glorious music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and which received a terrific reception on Monday evening.
___
Although the stage area at Richmond Theatre is not vast, this ballet was performed in the grand manner with a large number of dancers on stage most of the time - and a terrific fist they made of it.
___This is a ballet in two acts - starting magically on Christmas Eve in a glorious set with cleverly styled backcloth bearing a superb Christmas tree complete with twinkling lights. This is just the start of an amazing story about Clara and her adventures concerning her godfather and the Nutcracker in the pine forest, in the Kingdom of Sweets and in the Kingdom of Flowers.
___There are some very sinister elements along the way - there's a scene where Clara wakes to find herself surrounded by grey mice which has a real chill factor - there are so many of these masked creatures and they dance and move in such a slinky threatening manner you instinctively recoil.
___The lighter scenes however are very many and very varied
. One flowery sequence where the stage seems to be fluttering in pink is breathtakingly pretty. There are some joyously humourous scenes with toys and dolls jerkily dancing a storm.
___The music is magnificently performed by a large orchestra occupying the pit area - and various tunes are so well known I sensed the audience humming along in delighted recognition.
___On Monday evening one dancer fell - oh-so-gracefully and quickly resumed her steps but such was the audience's involvement with the ballet there was a concerted intake of horrified breath - and at the end of her particular solo, loud and heartfelt applause of concern and sympathy.
___This evening and for the matinee and evening performance tomorrow Moscow City Ballet will be presenting Cinderella with music by Sergei Prokofiev - and I have no doubt that ballet too will be a feast of pleasure to the senses.

Helen Taylor.

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01 May 2002, DANCE EUROPE # 52; Richmond Theatre

Moscow City Ballet
The Nutcracker
Richmond Theatre

As part of Richmond's annual dance festival, Leap into Dance 2002, Moscow City Ballet offered The Nutcracker (followed by Cinderella later in the week).
___
It's good to see big, classical companies tacking the challenges of smaller stages, giving a wider audience the opportunity to see them. They succeeded in compressing this average sized production on to Richmond Theatre's smallish, raked stage and after some initial jostling the company seemed to settle into the squeeze quite comfortably.
___
Difficult as it was to glean much information from the programme notes, other than a reference to it being based on Petipa's original. I was unable to decide which period Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, the choreographer/director and his designer Elizaveta Dvorkina or Natalia Povago (depending on which section of the programme you chose to read) had fixed upon. Costumes were colourful, possibly 1890s, but hairdos were a mixture of the traditional and a bunch of distinctly modem coiffures including a Mary Quant, a Doris Day and a "Posh". The Prologue and transformation scene muddled along at a hectic gallop. Whilst the story was clearly told, the large cast at the start made for some rough edges to the dancing. The corps de ballet, however, showed their true mettle at the end of the act by producing a well rehearsed snow scene.
___Act II gave us a chance to see some of the soloists of which the Fairies (as they are in this production) all gave of their best. I have never seen the Mirliton dance interpreted as a solo for Drosselmeyer. Nor have I seen a male dancer execute so many "gargouillades" in so few musical phrases. The fact that Dmitry Romanov (otherwise an excellent proponent of the role) seemed able to see the humour in his predicament, rather saved the moment.
___Ekaterina Selskaya was an ebullient Clara, whose first tentative steps soon gave way to an accomplished performance. She was competently supported by Nurlan Abugaliev as the Prince, who clearly has the physique for the role if not yet the subtlety or maturity to totally convince.

Deborah Weiss.

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15 February 2001, THE KENTISH GAZETTE; Canterbury, UK - The Marlowe Theatre

WHAT'S On

Beauty of city ballet

Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty

Moscow City Ballet

The Marlowe Theatre

___The Moscow City Ballet was founded in 1988 by the ex-soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet, Victor Smirnov - Golovanov.
___In this comparatively short time he has, as artistic director, achieved extremely high standards.
___From the start Swan Lake totally bewitched and entranced as the the young people celebrated Siegfried's birthday.
___It was obvious this company has high quality - from the principals to the humblest dancer.
___Not just impeccable techniques but assured style that made light of difficulties.Similarly with the Sleeping Beauty; in both productions I was delighted by the wonderful painted backcloths that so well enhanced the dancing. Again, the lighting of Castle and Palace ballrooms was magical.
___Outstanding both as Odette/Odile and as the Lilac Fairy was the distinguished ballerina Elena Zhavoronkova whose dancing exuded confidence and style.
___In Swan Lake Roman Arkhypov was an amusing and beguiling Jester, Anatoli Emelianov a lithe and impressive Benno and Ekaterina Voevodina a quite exquisite Spanish bride. Superbly chilling and fluent was Dmitri Romanov as Von Rothbart.
___In Sleeping Beauty Elena Osokina (Princess) was quite outstanding. I felt privileged to have watched two such wonderful productions and marvelled at the exceptionally high standards of this company. Please come again!

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15 February 2001, MILTON KEYNES CITIZEN; Milton Keynes, UK - MK Theatre

From Russia... with love!

By Sam Ward

THE excellent Moscow City Ballet are in town this week wowing audiences at Milton Keynes Theatre with two classics - Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.

I was fortunate enough to get tickets for Swan Lake - both ballets were sold out - and what a treat it was.

Virtually a ballet beginner, having only seen The Nutcracker before, I was worried I might be out of my depth.

But the classic love story, which I vaguely remembered from my school days, came flooding back.

Basically, for those who do not kno the tale, it is about a prince, Siegfried, who on his 21st birthday is reminded by his mother it is time for him to marry.

But he shuns the princess paraded before him, after his attention is captured by a swan who is transformed into a beautiful maiden - Odette, Queen of the Swans.

But the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart holds her under his spell and she must remain a swan by day and a human at night. Only the pure love of a young man can remove the curse.

Elena Zhavoronkova was graceful and stunning as Odette and Talgat Kozhabaev strong in the role as Prince Siegfried.

Other characters of note were the Jester (Anatoli Emelianov) who brought some humour to the somewhat sombre story and Dmitri Romanov as the wicked Von Rothbart.

The costumes were exqisite and the sets were very cleverly done and last but certainly by no means least, the National Ballet Orchestra was excellent in performing Tchaikovsky's wonderful and stirring music.

What a performance!

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23 February 2001, EVENING ARGUS; Brighton, UK - Theatre Royal

A Red riot of colourful Swans

MOSCOW CITY BALLET,

Theatre Royal,

Brighton,

until Saturday

THE RUSSIANS are in the city and they are glorious. Moscow City Ballet has captured my heart in its production of Swan Lake which you can see today and tomorrow.

I don't think I have ever seen such a colourful show at the Theatre Royal. The stage becomes a riot of colour in the court scenes and changes to a gray - blue, eerie half darkness in the eyes as the colours are almost in overload.

The first thing that strikes you is the backdrop. It is a curtain containing two magnificent paintings, bright and vivid, as though they had just been completed.

Then there are the costumes - all the imperial colours are here. Bright reds and scarlets, vivid blues, deep browns, whites so white that they have a tings of blue, even the grays look bright.

The costumes must have kept the seamstresses in work for months and months and the company's laundresses must work overtime to keep them looking so fresh.

And, of course, there is the dancing. These dancers do not so much dance to Tchaikovsky's music as inhabit it. Not one movement, not one gesture is made that does not come from the music.

The dancing is energetic without seeming to cost any effort. It is seamless, beautifully fluid, incredibly graceful and, above all, it looks natural.

You believe the court dancers are real, you believe the swans are real.

The principals, Elena Zhavoronkova as Odette / Odile, Talgat Kozhabaev as Siegfried and Dmitri Romanov as Von Rothbart - and he must have the slimmest legs in the business - are all excellent. But do watch out for Roman Arkhypov's Jester who is infectiously pleasing, stealing the opening act.

The corps de ballet is strong, too. Even the four cygnets in their dance, which has been parodied so often, make it fresh and uncliched.

Musically, the company orchestra takes Tchaikovsky's score and wrenches the heart with it. Conductor Igor Shavruk knows exactly what he is doing and does so magnificently.

SWAN LAKE finishes on Thursday evening and is followed by another Tchaikovsky piece, The Sleeping Beauty. Both can be seen in March at the Festival Theatre, Chichester, where there is an added bonus of some performances of Prokofiev's ballet Cinderella.

MIKE HOWARD

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01 March 2001, DAILY POST; Liverpool, UK - Empire Theatre

Russian rarity brings a lively splash of colour

BALLET

Don Quixote

Liverpool Empire

AT LAST, a classical ballet in Liverpool that has not been performed umteen times before.

For that we have to thank the visiting Moscow City Ballet who are giving us two nights of choreographer Marius Petipa's colourful work during their week-long stay.

First staged in Moscow in 1869, it has notalways been popular in the West, possibly because it does not have music by Tchaikovsky.

That's a shame as the music by Ludwig Minkus is just as lively as Tchaikovsky's and has the foottapping quality of a Johann Strauss. To be frank, though, there isn't a lot of plot, more a series of country dances through which Quixote wanders, looking baffled much of the time. This production is based on ideas by a number of choreographers including those of Petipa himself and Moscow City Ballet's own artistic director Victor Smirnov - Golovanov.

The result is a sunny, colourful evening of dance with some splendid costumes and sets, and enormous amounts of energy.

The ballet is repeated tonight and tommorow the company start two nights of another city rarity, Prokofiev's Cinderella.

Philip Key.

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01 March 2001, Richmond, UK - Richmond Theatre

RICHMOND THEATRE

PRESS RELEASE

hitLIST...........................................previews

Amazing grace

 

Russians seem to be synonymous with all things graceful.

Not only can they boast world-class gymnasts and ice-skaters, but they are also renowned for their ballerinas.

Next week, Moscow City Ballet comes to Richmond Theatre as part of its UK tour, during which time it will clock up its 1,000th show on our shores.

From Monday until Thursday, the group will perform Swan lake, by Tchaikovsky, which tells the story of Queen Odette, a woman who has been turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer. The spell will only be broken when a man declares his undying love to her.

Following this, on March 9 and 10, they will perform Sleeping Beauty, also by Tchaikovsky, the popular tale of the princess who is pricked by a spinning needle poisoned by wicked fairy, and falls into a deep sleep until she is kissed by her Prince Charming.

According to Lillian Hochhauser, who has helped organise the tour, these are probably the two most popular ballets ever written.

"People know the music," she said. "They also have fantastic stories and are stunning to watch."

Since it was founded in 1988 by Russian choreographer Victor Smirnov - Golovanov, the company tried to make ballet accessible to as wide an audience as possible, with a particular focus on young people.

Its dancers typically spend six months a year on tour.

About 60 performers take part in the production, half of which are female. One of them is Zhavoronkova Elena, 35, who plays the roles of Odile and Odette in Swan Lake, and Princes Aurora and Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty.

Her love of ballet was born when she was four years old and saw ballet dancers on television. When she was eight she enroled at the Saratov Choreographic Institute. A typical day would see her studying in the classroom during the mornings then receiving ballet tuition during the afternoons.

Nowadays she can't imagine doing anything else for a living.

"My dreams have become true," she said. "I dance the roles which I dreamed about, such as fairies who wish to bring kindness for everyone.

"Of course, I get nervous when I go on stage, but I love the self expression and happiness it gives me."

The productions are part of the tenth annual Richmond festival, Leap Into Dance. The coming weeks will bring styles ranging from Spanish flamenco to ballet, Irish, tap, ballroom, tea dances and contemporary.

JENNIE JONES

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09 March 2001, TIMES; Richmond, UK - Richmond Theatre

RICHMOND THEATRE

Great drama on the lake

 

LUSH and sumptuous are two of the words which spring to mind when I ponder the Moscow City Ballet Company's presentation of Swan Lake at Richmond Theatre on Monday night.

The drama started before the curtain rose - in a very dark auditorium the grand and accomplished orchestra played the overture redolent with wonderful tunes - and then with a sharp intake of breath and much blinking of the eyes we gradually adjusted to the ultra-bright stage area.

In the ballet the court scenes are very important for setting the characters in their true setting.

For the opening dance, the colours are all gold and chestnut and apricot and with tremendous grace we are swept into the scene. This court comes complete with a jester who is extremely agile - leaping, bounding and gesticulating and somehow clowning and miming jokes which have the audience laughing out loud.

The principals present their characters and the complicated footwork seemingly effortlessly and one is thus enchanted. However it is the chorus work which sets my factors tingling.

Truly there is something totally wondrous about a large group of men, beautifully costumed jumping and cavorting about a stage in marvellous unison... and as for large flocks of talented young women as swans with their neat feathered heads, gorgeous white tutus with skirts veritably parallel to the floor... delight is complete.

At the opening of the second half of the ballet, the dancers are all dressed in gorgeous court costumes with headresses and cloaks for the women, floppy hunting beret adorned with jewel - affixed feather for each of the men - and heck, that's just the chorus. The principals are in even finer finery complete with jewelled head - dresses.

The drama on the lake itself is beautifully done - I believe the audience was uniformly appreciative and there were several curtain calls. I enjoyed the evening immensely.

HELEN TAYLOR

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13 March 2001,THE NEWS; Chichester, UK - Festival Theatre

Moscow's rich and traditional working

of engaging ballet

REVIEW

Swan Lake

Chichester Festival Theatre

SWAN LAKE is an engaging ballet with a sumptuous score.

It has an easy - to - follow narrative, making it the perfect production for those who may not be a fan or familiar with the art form.

Prince Siegfried is enjoying his 21st birthday when his mother reminds him of his responsibility to chose a wife.

With thoughts of his carefree youth slipping away, he becomes morose, and is friends, spotting a flock of wild swans, suggest a hunting expedition.

The swans are in fact a group of maidens enchanted by a spell cast by the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart. Siegfried falls in love, but it is a love that is doomed. Moscow City Ballet present a rich and traditional working of the tale, with some fine dancing and finely tuned musicality. Elan Zhavoronkova's Odette is minimal, with clean lines and an easy elegance. Talgat Kozhabaev takes the role of Siegfried.

He is a wonderful dancer when alone but in his duets often appeared apprehensive. The pair were at their best at the denouement, leaving the audience on a high.

The corps de ballet was strong while Anatoli Emelianov gave a sprightly performance as the jester.

Tchaikovsky's stunning score was played with finesse and sensitivity by The National Ballet Orchestra. Despite a small stage, the set-pieces were carefully crafted.

Until Saturday.

PHILLIPPA ARNELL

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16 March 2001, CHICHESTER OBSERVER; Chichester, UK - Festival Theatre

Classical ballet from classical company

 

Classical ballet from a classical company comes to Chichester Festival Theatre this week.

Moscow City Ballet performed Swan Lake on Monday and Tuesday; The Sleeping Beauty on Monday and Tuesday; The Sleeping Beauty is the show on Wednesday and Thursday; and Cinderella completes the week on Friday and Saturday.

Moscow City Ballet was formed 16 years ago by Victor Smirnov - Golovanov whose aim was to teach his young dancers the original ideas of the great 19th century choreographers while encouraging them to express themselves artistically.

The Sleeping Beauty introduces characters such as the comely Princess Aurora, the gallant Prince and the Lilac Fairy.

Inspiring Tchaikovsky to write some of his most glorious music, this classic perfectly demonstrates the talents of the company's soloists.

Perhaps the most celebrated fairy tale of them all, Cinderella has all the ingredients for a truly magical experience. Bearing the brunt of her scowling sisters' temper tantrums and her stepmother's malice, Cinderella is transported to paradise by her handsome Prince.

A lavish ballroom scene, plenty of comedy and a happily ever after ending are all danced to Prokofiev's beguiling score.

Gordon Fitzmaurice, concerts manager with company, is delighted o be part of its success.

"Victor was an ex-dancer himself, and he wanted o form his own company. They have gone from strength to strength since then.

"They are based in Moscow, but they do a great deal of touring work outside Russia. They have just finished a very successful tour to the Far East.

" They are primarily a very classical company. They are mostly performing classical work in quite a traditional way. They follow a very definite Russian way, a very classical Russian style of performance. I don't really know how to describe it. It's just very, very classical.

"They are great to work with. They are fun. And they are dancers of very, very high quality. They are very distinguished dancers and they enjoy this country. They come back every year. They always tour this country and it is always very well received. They always have good audiences and it always goes down well.

"I may well come down to see them in Chichester, but I don't spend all my time with them. They are very self-sufficient company. They are well used to being in this country."

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22 March 2001, NEWS & MAIL; Woking, UK - New Victoria Theatre

Swan Lake a classic start

 

As Russia was the birthplace of ballet, it was appropriate that the Moscow City Ballet should open the New Victoria Theatre's contributions to the delights of the Woking Dance Umbrella.

And the Monday night audience was not disappointed by this company, which is one of Russia's greatest exports, as it spends so much time abroad.

Swan lake was the complete classical ballet experience.

Richly decorated sets, sumptuous costumes and the flowing music of Tchaikovsky combined with exquisite technique in dance that, on occasions, made one gasp.

It was once suggested to this critic that when going to see classical ballet, the audience is paying to see people torture themselves.

But, of course, with dancers of this calibre, the breathtaking technique makes the torture look easy, positively graceful.

Moscow City Ballet is very much the child of Victor Smirnov - Golovanov who founded the company in 1988.

His aim is to bring this important part of the national heritage of Russia to as wide a public as possible, especially the new generation of young ballerinas, said the programme note, and there were a good number of them in the audience, perhaps seeing Swan Lake for the first time.

Watching the face of a child, totally absorbed, would have made him and his colleagues feel they were achieving their aim. And no doubt mum will be involved in the Saturday morning rush to ballet class with a lighter heart this weekend.

Elena Zhavoronkova was a graceful Odette and a seductive Talgat Kozhabaev a handsome prince. There was an appealing jester from Anatoli Emelianov and a brooding Von Rothbart from German Blagovechenski. Certainly the bad boys and girls have the best dances, not necessarily the best tunes in Swan Lake.

But the supreme stars of this production, who rightly took the curtain call along with the principals and their artistic and musical director, were the corps de ballet.

There was pinpoint precision of movement and textbook static poses, held in total stillness, so that they were a part of the setting, from this flock of swans.

Matthew Bourne who choreographed a Swan Lake with an all male corps de ballet has a lot to answer for, however, as the thought "they don't really look like swans" slipped into my mind. What heresy, but at that point I would have liked a little more passion amidst the precision.

Then the glorious music swept in and with it away went all such heretical thoughts.

The Dance Umbrella covers a wide range. This is where it all springs from.

Christine Smith

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03 April 2001, THE JOURNAL; Newcastle, UK - Theatre Royal

Not the full monty but still superb

Don Quixote by Moscow City Ballet at Newcastle Theatre Royal

When I reviewed MCB's version of this rarely - seen piece three years ago, I expressed a wish for its speedy return. I'd like to think I was influential, but probably not. Let's just be grateful.

Don Q - or Keeshot to the Russians - is one of those classics which are so infrequently performed in this country that it can be forgotten that they exist. It has a rich heritage back to the 19th Century, but is most often represented in the repertoire of non-Russian companies by an extracted pas de deux.

This version is not Marius Petipa's "full monty" which is a four-acter. The action here is distilled to two acts. As none of the audience is likely to have seen the full-length Don Q, it doesn't matter.

We have the heart of the matter in Kitri and her Basil attempting to maintain their relationship against her father's wishes and dear old doddery Don Quixote mistaking the girl for his beloved Dulcinea, a windmill for a dragon to be vanquished and living in the weird place of his imagination.

In two respects - one rewarding and the other increasingly irritating - this is a typical Russian production. The corps de ballet is stunning, all straight back and soft arms and impossibly young. They come close to stealing the show.

Irritation mounts with repeated examples of Russian dancers' love of applause. After each solo or piece of technical flair, the performers take their flamboyant bows, milking the applause beyond reason. It is unnecessary and a hesitation in the performance.

In Elena Osokina as Kitri and Stanislav Bukharaev as Basil, we have two principles who grab the roles with great energy and feeling. The pedants in the audience - of which I was one - counted Kitri's fouettes in he great final pas de deux and reached the magical 32. This time, the applause was justified.

It amounts to a splendid evening.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Don Q is replaced by Sleeping Beauty and on Friday and Saturday by Cinderella. If they are as good as this first production, it will be a memorable week.

Dick Godfrey

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14 April 2001, THE SENTINEL; Stoke on Trent, UK - Regent Theatre

Review: The Sleeping Beauty

 

TCHAIKOVSKY'S most brilliant ballet, The Sleeping Beauty, received a magical presentation at the Regent Theatre, Hanley, last night.

It was given by the very young but very experienced Moscow City Ballet company and, like their Swan Lake - staged at the Regent earlier in the week - bore the hallmarks of enthusiasm and class that Russians invariably bring to performances of Tchaikovsky.

The backdrops were remarkable for a touring troupe, having hallucinatory depth and lighting, and the orchestral playing was well balanced.

The dancers showed elegance as well as enthusiasm, especially the many principals, and the corps-de-ballet - despite one tumble - swirled merrily round the stage.

Sleeping Beauty is a better ballet than Swan lake: the scenario follos Perrault's fairy tale clsely and the sets dances always point up the drama, no matter how marginally.

Even the wedding pieces - Little Red Riding Hood, Bluebird, Puss-in-Boots and the rest - have significance to the plot.

It proved impossible to attach names to characters, and it wouldn't have meant much anyway, but the Princess Aurora managed her taxing role with easy grace, and her Last Act pas-de-deux with the athletic Prince Florimund was a triumph.

Ballet always seems to do well at the Regent, and fans must now wait until June for Romeo and Juliet.

Sleeping Beauty has its last performance at the Regent tonight (8 pm).

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04 May 2001,FREE PRESS; High Wycombe, UK - Wycombe Swan Theatre

BFP FREETIME REVIEWS

Rapturous applause

Swan Lake

Wycombe Swan

THIS was a superb production performed by the Moscow City Ballet. Elena Zhavoronkova made the transformation from the fargile Odette to the haughty sinister Odile with perfection. Talgat Kozhabaev was a dashing Prince Seigried with German Blagovechenski portraying the sinister Von Rothbart and Roman Arkhypov gave a stunning rendition as the Jester.

The story of Swan Lake is so familiar that it needs no interpretation. The costumes were magnificent as was the set and the ballroom scene with its gorgeous colours ofered a complete contrast to the scenes by the lake with the lighting giving the effect of riipping water.

The haunting music of Tchaikovsky played by the National Ballet Orchestra added to the enjoyment. The sight of 26 white swans on stage was breathtaking and the choreography and dancing technique were outstanding throughout.

The audience showed their appreciaion of this excellent ballet with rapturous applause as the principals took several curtain calls. This was an evening for all ballet lovers and if you were not fortunate enough to have seen Swan Lake, the Moscow City Ballet is performing Cinderella tonight and tomorow. Another triumph for The Swan.

Rita Carpenter

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