Giselle – Mikhailovsky Ballet: London Coliseum, 27 March 2013

Ghosting into town

Ballet - it's the new Frock 'n' Roll. Polina Semionova skirts the issue in the Mikhailovsky's Giselle. Photo by Stas Levshin

Ballet – it’s the new Frock ‘n’ Roll. Polina Semionova skirts the issue in the Mikhailovsky’s Giselle. Photo by Stas Levshin

The St Petersburg-based Mikhailovsky Ballet, under artistic director Nacho Duato, have arrived at the London Coliseum for a two-week season and bring with them a rather stronger line-up of Principals than when they last visited in 2010. Tonight’s Giselle was American Ballet Theatre’s Russian-born star Polina Semionova and the Count was former Mariinsky Principal Denis Matvienko – and this was the second cast!

Semionova is a strikingly beautiful dancer; tall and elegant she has the uncanny knack of appearing to float across the stage with a lightness that’s hard to resist. Her long, long limbs produce extraordinary lines, especially in the second act while depicting desperate spectral longings for her true love. She’s a decent actress too. Her wide-eyed innocence and sudden descent into madness are both convincingly portrayed and not over-hammed.

Matvienko is perhaps too subtle in the first act; it’s easy to see why he would fancy her but not so easy to understand why she would fall for him. Once she dies, however, his subtlety turns in a wonderfully tender declaration of love. Their big pas de deux was a memorable demonstration of two dancers in harmony with a touching sense of yearning and longing for each other.

There was some strong supporting roles too. Victoria Kutepova’s opening solo as Queen of the Wilis was as delicate as the mist that caused half the audience to cough as it escaped the proscenium. Anna Kuligina and Andrey Yakhnyuk, after a nervy start, clocked up a perfectly satisfactory Peasants’ pas de deux and Alexander Omar did well within the confines of the Gamekeeper’s god-awful beard. The corps throughout were well-drilled and hopped their way through their famous crossings with smart precision. The company orchestra under Valery Ovsyanikov, occasionally painfully slow in the first act, otherwise gave a good account of Adolphe Adam’s helplessly romantic score.

With Don Quixote, Laurencia and two programmes of Nacho Duato’s choreography to come, this was a real mouth-watering taste of what could be an exceptional season.

Tickets for the rest of the run, including performances by Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova, are available from the eno website.

Gerard Davis

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