On Saturday, June 25, 2016, the new Mariinsky Theatre presented a sold-out performance of Balanchine’s Jewels. Having just seen the ballet performed by the Berliner Staatsballett at the Deutsche Oper earlier this month, I wanted to compare the two performances.
While both performances strictly adhere to George Balanchine’s conception, vision, and execution of his ballet (all Balanchine ballets have to be produced and performed in accordance and agreement with The George Balanchine Trust, which regulates the style and technique standards established and provided by the Trust), the execution is, of course, completely dependent on the lead and supporting dancers.
The Mariinsky ballet is among the leading companies in the world. The training the dancers receive here is noticeably more rigorous than elsewhere, which is very apparent in the dancers’ confidence and movements. The whole company executed the dances with such precision and flawlessness (the Berliner Staatsballett dancers stumbled and even fell three times), each jump was performed with so much ease, lightness, and grace, and all the lifts in the pas des deux with feather-lightness and seeming effortlessness, that the overall effect is stunning and mesmerizing. You get the sense that you are in the presence of true artistic excellence.
Especially noteworthy were the performances in Stravinsky’s “Rubies” by the Vaganova Ballet Academy graduate (2015) and second soloist Renata Shakirova, and the coryphee and former dancer of Boris Eifman’s ballet, Zlata Yalinich.
The Mariinsky ballet is a classical company, which traces its roots to the 18th century Imperial Russian ballet (founded in 1740s) and the Soviet Kirov ballet. The majority of its dancers are graduates of the Vaganova Ballet Academy, which is housed in the building of the original Imperial Theatre School, where dancers, actors, and opera singers trained for centuries. Today the Mariinsky ballet employs over 200 dancers and is under the artistic direction of Yuri Fateyev. Its repertoire is classical and traditional, with an emphasis on upholding the traditions of classical ballet.
Photos by Natasha Razina and Valentin Baranovsky