State Ballet Theatre of Russia at the Pabst
This troupe from Voronezh danced a "Cinderella" created by 20th-century Bolshoi star Vladimir Vasiliev.
The State Ballet Theatre of Russia, the touring name of the Voronezh State Theater, landed at the Pabst Theater Friday evening amid a 22-city North American tour. (An announced Thursday show was cancelled.) The 65-member company, from southwestern Russia, performed Cinderella, to Prokofiev’s familiar music.
Vladimir Vasiliev, former lead dancer and artistic director of the Bolshoi, created this Cinderella for Voronezh in 2006. Vasilev loosely integrated contemporary dance comedy and traditional ballet. Ekaterina Liubikh and Yulia Nepomnyashchaya, as Cinderella’s ill-tempered step-sisters, excelled at both character dance and pantomime; their antics were a fresh and modern take on this timeless tale. The burly Alexandr Lityagin, as Cinderella’s stepmother, was over-the-top and distracting, but despite the dreadful miscasting of this important role, he quickly became the audience favorite as he delighted the crowd with his broad comedic style.
Svetlana Noskova’s portrayal of the title role was inspired. As the put-upon young housemaid, the company soloist took the lead in moving the story forward with every gesture, glance and glissade. Clearly the strongest member of the company, Noskova outdistanced the other dancers every time she graced the stage. Denis Kaganer, as the Prince, a strong and capable dancer, performed well solo, and his pas de deux with Noskova was a touching finale.
The corps de ballet and Fairies of the Seasons lent romance and magic to the story book scene. Costumed in a rainbow of tulle and sparkles, the younger dancers were overall a lovely compliment to the principals in the leading roles, but did not perform with the precision that ballet-goers come to expect from Russian dancers.
This rendition of the Charles Perrault fairy tale, despite its shortcomings, was fun, light-hearted and sincere. The multi-generational audience was captivated and when the final curtain fell and couldn’t wait to reward the dancers with resounding applause.