Essence of 'Swan'

Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra's feted "Swan Lake" will open the 2012–13 International Dance Series at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

The company will make its seventh appearance at the Center from Tuesday to Oct. 7, during an exclusive Southern California engagement.

"The audience in Costa Mesa is very warm and very understanding of the art," Interim Ballet Director Yuri Fateev said in a phone interview.

Mariinsky's 2012 U.S. tour will also make one-week stops in Berkeley and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. through Oct. 21, Fateev said.

The Mariinsky rendition of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's most beloved and lyrical ballets last graced the Segerstrom stage in 2006 — when the company was still known by its Soviet name, Kirov Ballet, center officials said.

"All the great companies of the world you just want to bring back over and over, because they're fantastic," center Executive Vice President Judy Morr said in a phone interview.

So, two years ago she arranged to bring Mariinsky's "Swan Lake" to Segerstrom once more.

"It is the most popular of all of the full-length ballets in the repertoire and you never grow tired of 'Swan Lake,'" Morr said. "So, even if you've seen it many times before, you look forward to seeing it again because it just has an enduring quality that enhances your life."

The Bolshoi Ballet first premiered "Swan Lake" in 1877. Mariinsky Ballet later refined and established their version in 1895 with choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.

At Segerstrom Center, a company of 70 dancers will perform the revised choreography and stage direction Konstantin Sergeyev¿established in 1950.

"It is Mariinsky's 'Swan Lake' that is the quintessential story of love and romance and it really sets the standard for dancers," Morr said.

"It captures the essence of what 'Swan Lake' is with magnificent corps de ballet, the beautiful swans and with their exquisitely trained dancers, so that they have a beauty that only the Mariinsky has. It has to do with over 200 years of training that's passed down from generation to generation."

For many famous Russian ballerinas — including Marina Semenova, Galina Ulanova, Natalia Makarova, Alla Osipenko and Galina Mezentseva — dancing the leading role of Odette was a turning point in their careers.

Today's generation of Kirov dancers pour new life into the work.

"We have three different casts in Costa Mesa," Fateev said. "Opening night we have a very young girl. Her name is Oxana Skorik. She's very talented. She's an absolutely beautiful swan. If you think about the Queen of the Swans, she is absolutely the right person for doing that ballet, because she has beautiful long lines, long legs, long arms, a very long neck, and she looks like a real swan.

"For the third cast, we have a very nice, beautiful dancer, Danila Korsuntsev," he continued. "He looks like a prince. He's a very nice prince. He's absolutely perfect for the prince in 'Swan Lake,' in 'Sleeping Beauty' or in 'The Nutcracker.'"

The 66-piece Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Mikhail Agrest will accompany the dance performance.

"Of course, the orchestra is well trained, because the head of the Mariinsky Theatre is Maestro Gergiev and he is one of the great musicians of the world and he cares about music," Morr said. "There is no company in the world like the Mariinsky."

The 2012-2013 International Dance Series also includes Trey McIntyre Project, Hamburg Ballet and Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg.

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If You Go

What: Mariinsky Ballet's "Swan Lake" with the Mariinsky Orchestra

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Oct. 6, and at 2 p.m. Oct. 6 and 7, Elizabeth Kaye conducts free preview talks one hour prior to each performance. The Oct. 5 preview talk will be sign language interpreted.

Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

Tickets: Tickets start at $30

Information: (714) 556-2787 or http://www.scfta.org

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