Last updateFri, 10 Jul 2020 9am

Old favorite opens Yuletide season

The Russian State Ballet Mari El was welcomed  Friday, November 11 at the Auditorio de la Ribera with its interpretation of the classic Tchaikovsky suite and ballet, “The Nutcracker.”  This troupe of young dancers is part of the Opera and Ballet Theater Sapaev and an obvious training ground for the more ambitious and polished Bolshoi.

The original Tchaikovsky score is more than two and a half hours of uninterrupted, and often repetitive, music.  Therefore, many productions of “The Nutcracker” are montages of scenes that capture the story of Clara and her fantasy Prince and the magical world laid at their feet. In this particular production, the final scene, the denouement, was missing.  Clara never woke up, never returned to reality and we were left with the corps de ballet in all their ethnicity.  Given the limitations of a traveling ballet company in terms of staging, brown, gray, black and white are not the most arresting colors.  The choreography in general was studio and uninspired.

The deserving stars of this 20-member troupe are definitely Olga Chepanova, who danced the role of Clara (billed as “Masha” in the program notes), and her prince, Konstantin Korotkov.  Clara was poised, elegant, always with an expression, usually a smile, and technically, on point. The Prince was an accomplished technician and strong.  The pas de deux were a pleasure to watch and there was a spectacularly gymnastic lift in the final waltz that left this writer breathless. The role of Drosselmeyer, danced by Kirill Parshin, who also doubled as the Mouse King, lacked mystery.  In this writer´s view, Drosselmeyer is a toy maker-cum-magician and the “maquina deux” of the entire ballet, not a politician, as noted in program notes.

The corps de ballet was mediocre – there was imprecision both in tempo and posture.  The ethnic dances are always crowd pleasers but this time they were flat.  The one dancer who excelled in his minor role was Dmitrii Kogan, a French doll, who has an incredible extension.

The three quarter-full auditorium was warmly receptive.  The audience was 95 percent foreign, which can be attributed to the cost of tickets. At 500 pesos, they were prohibitive for most of our Mexican neighbors.  It is amazing, though, that our little village can attract such international-level performances. Don’t miss Instituto Loyola de Chapala’s abbreviated children’s rendition of “The Nutcracker” on Friday, December 16, performances at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.  It’s a community tradition.

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