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The Mikhailovsky Ballet: Without Words, Nunc Dimittis, Prelude

Published Monday 8 April 2013 at 10:05 by Katie Colombus

This modern triple bill by the Mikhailovsky Ballet St Petersburg is the last in its London run, rounding off a varied season.

Without Words is a simple and stunning show of form and structure set to the music of Schubert. In nude costume, we look at these fine athletes with an anatomical eye, with all other production values vanquished, concentrating on the delicate choreography and lilting movements of the dancers. Although emotionally impassive, the sweep and glide of their movement is effective. Arms outstretched, easy lifts, increasing arabesques and circular motions in spins and traced pathways all pertain to images of flight.

In true accordance with the music, they are quick and lively in the allegro sections, heavy, hunch-backed and drooping in the legato, rising and falling with pace and tempo as they releve and drop onto flat feet, fluttering fingers at tinkling ivories.

Nunc Dimittis is set to the religious music of Arvo Part. Crosses of light over a smoky stage create atmosphere as a dancer moves like a wounded bird, dying in the belfry. Dancers wear papal gowns in blood red velvet, bowing, with backs to the audience, grouping together as if congregation, curving backs in deference to a higher deity. They traverse the space, rushing from one side to the other. Religious references are clear, as hands are held out, palms face up, referencing stigmata, and images of Christ elevated on the cross appear, before ascension on a huge swathe of red silk, during a sung amen.

Prelude brings together facets of modern movement with traditional romantic elements, set to the music of Handel, Beethoven and Britten. It’s a recognisable balletic world - a woodland set, traditional curtains and facades, which are ripped down and dragged offstage. Contemporary choreography merges seamlessly into romantic tableaux, hand-held groupings and long netted skirts.

Like a flock of surreal birds, they enter jerking their upper bodies forward in pecking motion, before joining together centre stage and raising their arms like a flock of geese taking flight. It’s an apt piece to finish on, in a final program that demonstrates how the company are capable of contemporary as well as full length traditional works.

Production information

Coliseum, London, April 7

Nacho Duato
The Mikhailovsky Ballet, St Petersburg
Cast includes:
Irina Kosheleva, Leonid Sarafanov, Ekaterina Borchenko, Mikhail Sivakov, Valeria Zapasnikova, Pavel Vinogradov, Maria Dmitriyenko, Andrey Lapshanov
Running time:

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014