„Le Corsaire“ from the Bolshoi!Danspubliek on 12.Mar.2012 15:42
An international visible worldclass performance: „Le Corsaire“ from the Bolshoi!
In the series of international broadcasts of balletperformances in the cinema, this time the
magnificent reconstruction of „Le Corsaire“ by Yuri Burlaka and Alexei Ratmansky proved how
exciting, compelling and artistically rewarding classical ballet can be!
The ballet „Le Corsaire“ is based on the poem of the same title by Lord Byron and was premiered
in Paris in 1856 with choreography by Joseph Mazillier and music by Adolphe Adam.
When Jules Perrot revived the piece two years later in Sankt Petersburg, the young Marius Petipa
not only danced the leading part of Conrad, but also choreographed the beautiful „Jardin animé“
scene. During his long career Petipa revived the piece four times, adding new parts each time.
Finally the score includes music from a.o. Pugni, Drigo and the Prince d'Oldenbourgh.
This masterly reconstruction is gorgeously designed by Boris Kaminsky (scenery) en Yelena
Zaitseva (costumes). The latter was, like Burlaka, wonderfully interviewed during the intermission
by Katerina Novikova, who highly professionally as well as charmingly translated all answers
directly into English and French!
I was personally able to meet Mr. Burlaka after the Berlin premiere of his wonderful reconstruction
of La Esmeralda, and I was deeply impressed by his great modesty and erudition, a shining example
of a man who acts out of love for the art, contrary to so many egomaniacs in the world of ballet!
No wonder this man creates such incredible reconstructions in which human emotions are so
Partly newly choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky is the „Pas des eventails“ in the 3rd act.
During the pas de deux and the male variation it was clear that the only real heir to Petipa's mastery
is George Balanchine, when it comes to organically logic movements and spacial patterns of a
supernatural beauty that seem to be ruled by universal laws. Nevertheless Ratmansky's
interpolations are generally very stylish and way better than the “inventions” of Bart, Nureyev etc.
The dancing was sublime!
The first highlight was the „Pas d'esclaves“ (Petipa), where next to a lovely Anastasia Stashkevitch,
Vyachseslav Lopatin was stealing the show with his stunning jumps, ports de bras and brilliant
pirouettes that at last were an expression of lightness (that's why they were invented in the ballet
technique) and not, like it sadly happens too often, some sporty show of virtuosity!
During the next scene the „Danse de Forlains“ reminded one what a primary and essential way of
expression dance is. This characterdance showed so much exuberance and joy of dance, that it
became obvious again what an important aspect of the art of dance, characterdancing is!
One of the reasons many classical balletperformances in the West look so lack-lustre is a lack of
good characterclasses in the balleteducation in the west. This difference was underlined when the
prima ballerina of this performance Svetlana Lunkina showed during the second act, next to her
classical mastery, a wonderful little character solo “Le petit Corsaire”.
The famous pas de deux, was marvelously danced by Lunkina, and even more so by Ruslan
Skvortsov. A tiny detail that disturbed me a little with Lunkina was, obviously because of her
extreme energy and speed, her hands forming the end of the line of her arms got a bit neglected and
therefore did not really prolong their expression beyond the body. But due to her acting, next to her
virtuosity, Lunkina was a very convincing Medora.
On an even higher artistic level was Skvortsov's Conrad, who next to a phenomenal presence and
virtuosity, proved to be an even more natural actor then Lunkina and showed next to that,
beautifully expressive arm movements. Just his last port de bras, finishing the pas de deux, was an
event in itself! Where many Western-trained male dancers try to make their arm and hand
movements unnoticeable in order to not look effeminate, their Russian counterparts have acces to
an incredible amount of expressive gestures of their arms and hands, precisely underlining their
virility! Another fact due to their Vaganova-schooling as well as the amount of characterclasses they are exposed to!
What was especially impressing about Skvortsov was the fact that, though he posesses an especially
pure technique as well as a great virtuosity, he placed himself as a performing artist clearly above
this technique. Heartwarming his smile when in the coda he performed his grand tours a tiny bit less
perfectly balanced (though still enviable) as planned.
What an exceptional pleasure to see an artist who uses his (minor) imperfections to enhance the
human dignity of his expressiveness!
Nothing more dull then dancers who full of goodwill, tediously try to do their steps as well as
possible, seemingly enslaved by their technique (or their coaches/choreographers).
At the Bolshoi there clearly is a mature and artistic approach, obviously in the first place thanks to
their formidable coaches!
In many classical productions by for instance Bart or Nureyev this sadly seems seldom the case; if
there is any individual approach at all, this seems often more like a case of egotripping. (Not
denying wonderful exceptions).
In this performance there was no egoglorification at all!
Even the beautiful synchronous and musical corps de ballet showed us a delightful display of
It would be too much to describe all individual achievements (such as the glorious trio of
Odalisques), but Andrei Merkuriev as Birbanto, the chief of the pirates couldn't possibly remain
unmentioned, so expressive, compelling and totally believable his performance was!
And Nina Kaptsova as an extremely charming Gulnara, was not only dancing vivaciously and with
great brilliance and speed, but also acted wonderfully mischievous, and was in her heartwinning
recklessness reminding of the young genius of Maximova!
Finally I would like to mention Alexei Loparevich as the antihero pasha Seyd, acting so wittily and
at times ironically, that it was understandable Gulnara wished him to be her groom.
A rare joy to see once again that the highly stylized art of classical ballet so naturally and
convincingly expresses joy of life and passion!
Lord Byron can be pleased!