Miracle on the 405: Mariinsky’s “Swan Lake” @ Segerstrom Center


Yes, a miracle, not on 42nd Street but on the mighty 405 freeway in Costa Mesa, California. There, for a Sunday matinee, all was right with the (dance) world, as the Mariinsky Ballet (formerly the Kirov) offered a sensational journey through beauty and passion, sanity and civilization.

Everything that dance can be was on offer for those willing to go along for the ride.

It was the Mariinsky’s own classic treasure, the four-act “Swan Lake” visiting Segerstrom Center for the Arts for weekend performances.

And what a cultural gift to her own community dance programmer Judi Morr has provided by bringing the Russians to town.

Need proof that seeing the Mariinsky’s “Swan Lake” is like visiting a great, living museum?

The giveaway is in the program notes:

World premiere performance, January 15, 1895, Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Yes, ballet’s most famous full-evening narrative work had its debut with this company where it still survives — through various re-dos and versions, not to mention a communist revolution — with great dance excellence today. It really is a miracle; testimony to the sacred respect with which ballet is treated in Russian culture.

The Mariinsky corps de ballets — so phenomenal, so disciplined, so divine — moves as a single, sculptural, breathing organism. The multifarious arms, neat heads, beautifully stretched feet; the ballerinas’ miniscule, nuanced movements, the muffled non-sound of their pointe shoes on the stage! All a revelation.

Alongside these amazing women, this afternoon, wonderful soloists performed: Anastasia Kolegova, sensational, womanly, spiritual as Odette, Timur Askerov, her dark-haired partner with huge lofting jumps, perhaps a tad too smiling as Prince Siegfried.

Kolegova’s white swan variations in Act II, sublimely supported by Askerov, unleashed mayhem, a delirium of joy for the balletomanes in the audience … and oh, I think it was pretty darned good for normal people too.

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