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BALLET REVIEW : Moscow Stages Mixed Bill in Place of ‘Creation’ at Center

Times Music/Dance Critic

Strange things are happening with the Moscow Classical Ballet in Orange County.

The overvaunted touring company was supposed to introduce its full-scale version of “The Creation of the World” Wednesday night at the Performing Arts Center. But when a reported injury forced Ekaterina Maximova, illustrious guest from the Bolshoi, to cancel her participation, most of the “Creation” was canceled too.

In place of the 20-year-old semisatirical extravaganza by Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasiliov, Costa Mesa saw a repetition of the hippety-hop vaudeville show offered at the opening Tuesday.

The show did include one excerpt from the “Creation,” and that was enough to suggest that the work is not exactly a masterpiece. Nevertheless, any complete modern ballet from the Soviet Union would be more interesting than another vulgar pas de deux contest embellished with swan feathers.

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The complete “Creation,” moreover, had been promised and sold. So much for truth in advertising.

Ironically, the Muscovites could have performed the work even without Maximova. Regular members of the company dance the central role. So, according to her program biography, can Tatiana Terekhova, the Kirov ballerina who is a nominal replacement for Maximova.

Terekhova, however, appeared once again in only two stingy snippets: the climactic duet from “Don Quixote” and the coda of Vaganova’s “Diana and Actaeon.” She is imposing, even in unflattering repertory and an ill-fitting costume. She phrases with heroic generosity, is capable of timeless balances and spiffily nonchalant fouettes .

Despite her obvious excellence, however, one doubts that Terekhova is a box office draw for local audiences. If, for some reason, she was unprepared to dance in “The Creation of the World,” the show still could, and should, have gone on. The world according to Kasatkina and Vasiliov would not have come to an end without her.

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If, on the other hand, someone deemed it imperative to have Terekhova on the bill, one must wonder why she wasn’t at least cast in the second act of “Swan Lake,” which returned to the program. A bona fide ballerina certainly would have been welcome in this stellar challenge. Vera Timashova, who impersonated the swan queen on this occasion, commands the right line, the right dreamy expression and properly flexible arms. Unfortunately, her poetic intentions are sometimes compromised by prosaic execution.

In general, Wednesday’s proceedings hardly differed from Tuesday’s. There were fewer lighting glitches, though a shadow still tended to decapitate any dancer who chose to spin center stage during the divertissement orgy.

The scraggly pit band--a combination of visiting Soviet musicians and recruits from the Pacific Symphony--still played pretty miserably under Pavel Salnikov, but this time we were spared the added distortion of amplification.

Although some of the faces changed, the audience favorite remained the young Ilgiz Galimullin. He flew through the air with the greatest of ease, not to mention speed and elegance, when he wasn’t providing rock-solid support for Terekhova.

Among those in new assignments, Vladimir Malakhov, the gangly incipient premier-danseur, stumbled a bit in Gsovsky’s “Grand Pas Classique” but recovered to conquer the bravura hurdles of the Black Swan coda. Tatiana Paly again demanded admiration with tidy, breathless pyrotechnics in the Gsovsky potboiler and the infernal “Flames of Paris.” Aidar Akhmetov mustered the exotic beefcake flourishes of “Le Corsaire” deftly.

The surviving scene from “The Creation of the World” this time enlisted Stanislav Isayev as a witty, super-innocent Adam, Galina Shlyapina as a sweet, rather knowing Eve, Valery Trofimchuk as a charmingly harmless Devil and Natalia Stavro as his cutely sinister accomplice.

On second viewing, Kasatkina and Vasiliov’s cartoon cliches seem to clash with increased violence against the tawdry sentimental twinings of the love duet. Still, even a critical churl must admit that “The Creation of the World” amuses a broad audience.

Too bad the audience here couldn’t have been amused by all of it.

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