Les Saisons Russes – Programme 3 (Chopiniania, Polovtsian Dances, Scheherazade): London Coliseum, 20 July 2013

Seasonal cheer

Sing and the whole world sings with you! Les Saisons Russes in Fokine's Polovtsian Dances

Sing and the whole world sings with you! Les Saisons Russes in Fokine’s Polovtsian Dances

Due to Ilze Liepa’s ongoing injury there was still no Cleopatra for the final programme of Les Saisons Russes short London season at the Coliseum. In its place we got the chance to see Xander Parish and Yulia Makhalina once again going full tilt at Schéhérazade. If anything their performances were even better than on opening night (reviewed here); Parish and Makhalina appearing even more finely attuned to one another, each touch more lingering, more erotically charged.

Parish also featured in Mikhail Fokine’s Chopiniana (more commonly known in the West as Les Sylphides) where he plays the rather chaste role of Young Man who’s more a supporting instrument for his assorted Sylphides than the sex-starved ball of testosterone that is Schéhérazade’s Golden Slave. He’s a strong, controlled partner who shows off his ballerinas well and they responded with light, feathery steps. But, while the piece as a whole looked pretty enough, it somehow lacked fluidity and the movement came across as too carefully marked, partly due, I think, to the slow tempo of Glazunov’s pre-recorded music.

Lack of impact is not an accusation that can be thrown at Fokine’s Polovtsian Dances. It’s never going to win an award for the best ballet ever created but it sure is fun to watch. Snatched from the ballet section of Alexander Borodin’s epic opera Prince Igor, it’s a riot of men with scimitars jumping jumping jumping and distressed slave girls dressed like naughty 1970s air stewardesses running running running.

There’s no discernable plot although a couple of girls in blue are regularly dragged on and off stage looking particularly unhappy. Of the lead roles (such as they are) Mikhail Martynyuk throws some spectacular leaps and cracks a whip with all the gusto expected of any self-respecting warrior leader, while Yuliya Voronina comes to the front of the stage every now and again and wobbles her chest about with a cheeky wink.

Camp as houses, the choreography really has no chance against Borodin’s vast end-of-the-world world score but the final sequence where everyone is jumping and moving at once is a spectacularly unforgettable whirl of colour.

Gerard Davis

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