Diverse and extensive celebration of dance

Penny Neilson.
Penny Neilson.
The Imperial Russian Ballet Company returned to the Regent stage with its  Festival of Russian Ballet, last performed here in 2013, writes Penny Neilson.

It was a slightly different programme to then, but  just as diverse and extensive. The company is renowned for its adherence to classical technique and choreography. However, this variant  allows the dancers to also explore their contemporary and comedic talents.

Act One saw a condensed version of Don Quixote. In its entirety, it  is an adventurous romp, but this was lost a little in  a 60-minute piece. The partnership of Kitri and Basilio were beautifully danced by Lina Seveliova and Nariman Bekzhanov, but the story of the ageing Don searching for adventure took a back seat and  a lot of the mischievousness  this tale is loved for was also lost.

Ravel’s Bolero brought a striking and powerful second act: thunderous foreboding gave way to light. 

Anna Pashkova was once again stunning in her performance as Godhead and Bekzhanov as the impassioned Head Priest was a commanding presence. Godhead’s descent from her altar down the human staircase was again superbly executed and the timing for the entire piece was impeccable.

The nine variations of Act Three were a true celebration of dance and all its diversity. Beautiful  excerpts from Giselle, Le Corsaire  and the Dying Swan solo in among the lighthearted Dance of the Horses and the hilarity of the Can Can Surprise.

A notable omission  was Pashkova’s Ne Me Quittes Pas. This was the standout for me in 2013; I would have loved to see it again. Regardless, Pashkova was still a highlight. Denys Simon was outstanding in his short piece Gopak — his agility and energy was a  treat to watch, as in all his roles over the programme.

This programme of diverse and engaging ballet is a perfect way for anyone new to dance to enjoy what it has to offer. A hugely entertaining evening and what better way to finish it than  the Can Can Surprise, a man en pointe and a couple of jokers. 


The Imperial Russian Ballet: A Festival of Russian Ballet

• Regent Theatre, Saturday, September 2

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