Music / “Byrd Round Table”, The Song Company. At Wesley Uniting Church, March 16. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD
CAPITALISING on Canberra’s insatiable appetite for classical dance, the Imperial Russian Ballet Company will be back this month with “A Festival of Russian Ballet”.
The 40-strong company, directed by former Bolshoi soloist Gediminas Taranda, has been touring internationally since 1994 and has been seen here several times with full-length ballets.
However, this time they’re presenting a “three-hour ballet extravaganza” that mixes up the great hits of ballet and, according to Mexican-born soloist, Mayela Marcos, is “going to make you cry and laugh”.
For the last four years Marcos, who studied ballet as a hobby in her home country while she schooled then announced to her shocked family that she was going to be a ballet dancer in Russia, has since been studying with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, from which she received her master’s in February.
A true enthusiast for the work of the company, Marcos describes the comic acting of the dancers in Act I, a scene from “Don Quixote”, as “really funny, they play with the audience” and praises the senior artists for their technical mastery.
Coming from Mexico, she is especially excited about the colourful Spanish-style costumes for Act I.
By contrast, the ballet Taranda has choreographed around Ravel’s work “Bolero”, she describes as “really dramatic”.
But her favourite is Act III, highlights from the world’s great ballets, including classical vignettes from “Giselle”, “Swan Lake” and “Le Corsaire” and some more modern dance works such as “Ne Me Quitte Pas” and “Can Can Surprise”.
For Marcos the standout is Taranda’s “Dance of the Horses,” choreographed to the music of Rossini’s “William Tell” overture after the choreographer saw the Melbourne Cup. What the dancers playing jockeys wear onstage owes something to the tutu, she says – “you will be amazed – it’s so cool”.
“A Festival of Russian Ballet”, The Playhouse, 8pm, Monday and Tuesday, October 23-24. Bookings to canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700.