Launching into space
An interesting but slightly awkward piece, Laurencia has some superb set-pieces and some dazzling virtuoso choreography but the happy peasant japes jar somewhat against the sudden changes into violent abuse. Visually, this 2010 Mikhailovsky Ballet production, based on the original 1939 Soviet version, looks great and Vadim Ryndin’s costumes are vibrantly colourful but the acting is genrally of the slapstick silent movie type, typified by Mikhail Venshchikov as the Grand Commander who wears cartoon-ish expressions even as he sends Laurencia to be raped by his soldiers.
Natalia Osipova plays the beleaguered Laurencia with a convincing geniality but has enough strength of purpose in her acting to make her transformation into vengeful maiden truly believable. Her dancing is superb but her choreographic fireworks are no match for her lover’s, Ivan Vasiliev’s Frondoso.
His jumps and leaps are staggering – it’s been said many times before and will be said many times again. But watching tonight it became apparent that it’s not just the elevation that’s so impressive, it’s the impeccable landings and the incredible control he demonstrates after each gut-busting jump. One such leap had him falling virtually horizontally from a great height only for him to stick out a leg at the last second and come gently to a halt – simply astonishing.
With Vasiliev and Osipova constantly hogging the limelight it must be a little frustrating being a First Soloist for this company. Laurencia, however, has some strong supporting roles and Sabina Yapparova and Oksana Bondareva stepped confidently out of the shadows. Yapparova is a delicate looking ballerina who has bucketloads of charm and she brought her character Pascuala to life with a series of beautifully judged solos. Bondareva, without a great deal of stage-time, turned the pivotal role of Jacinta into a genuinely haunting study of a traumatised victim of sexual abuse. On a lighter note, Nikolay Korypayev and Andrey Yakhnyuk showed impressive togetherness in their lively wedding scene pairing.
The music is interesting; despite an over-zealous use of castanets and finger-clicking, Alexander Krein’s score (edited by Dmitry Zubov) is an epic-sounding cinematic affair with great swathes of strings that, when required, really cranked up the emotion. Overall, with Vasiliev and Osipova on top form, Laurencia proved a very welcome addition to the Mikhailovsky’s London season.
Tickets for the remaining shows are available on the eno website.