Mariinsky Ballet: Southern California viewing guide

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That life can be difficult is no news. We all have to make tough decisions all the time. The latest? Where to see the great Mariinsky Ballet, also known as the Kirov Ballet, lately reverted to its Imperial Ballet nomenclature, in the ballet-and-orchestra conglomerate’s upcoming visits to Southern California. The Mariinsky ports some of the most sublimely trained dancers in the world, and brings on this West Coast tour two historic full-evening story ballets, one in original form, the other updated to a contemporary rendering. Both spool to the soulful sound of great Russian musical scores.

It seems like you gotta go twice. All you need is a car, a big tank of gasoline and a strong case of balletomania.

The company first appears at Segerstrom Hall, at the heart of the fine-arts cluster at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County. There the ballet troupe and its orchestra, under the imposing artistic direction of Valery Gergiev, will present “Raymonda,” considered as the last great Russian ballets of the 19th century. The ballet’s loose plot is steeped in deep, dark Medieval Hungary, a land of valiant knights and noblewomen — precisely the kind of material you want to see danced authentically by Europeans. “Raymonda” represents the Mariinsky’s eighth visit to the Segerstrom Center and the presentation marks the opening of the Center’s 30th anniversary season.

Raymonda, 1898
Music by Alexander Glazunov
Choreography by Marius Petipa, revisions and updates by Konstantin Sergeyev and Fyodor Lopukhov

cinderella
Next stop, a foray to The Los Angeles Music Center on Bunker Hill, where ballet breeds. On that arts hilltop, the Mariinsky will offer “Cinderella,” the great Prokofiev score reconfigured by contemporary choreographer Alexei Ratmansky into a 1930s period piece. Diana Vishneva, the Mariinsky Ballet and American Ballet Theatre principal dancer, is slated to perform the lead role on opening night. Ratmansky’s re-do of “Cinderella” for the Mariinsky, which had its premiere in 2002, launched the now ubiquitous choreographer onto the world stage. The production portrays Cinderella as a lonely dreamer and her stepmother as a vicious, tantrum-prone social climber, so say advance materials.

Music by Sergei Prokofiev
Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky
Musical direction by Valery Gergiev
Conducted by Gavriel Heine

Raymonda | Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra | Segerstrom Hall, Segerstrom  Center for the Arts | opens Sept 24

Cinderella | Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra | Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center | Dorothy Chandler Pavilion | opens Oct 8

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