The Mariinsky Ballet’s La Bayadere at the Royal Opera House – ‘exquisite and majestic’
The Kingdom of the Shades, in Act III of La Bayadere, is one of classical ballet’s most famous corps scenes. In the hands of the Mariinsky it is, quite simply, divine. From the impeccable unison to the acute precision of the corps’ placement as they cascade downstage in lines of shifting arabesque, La Bayadere is worth it for this alone.
Visually this story of Nikiya, a temple dancer, and her doomed love for the warrior Solor needs stirring up, but choreographically the 1941 reworking of Petipa’s original is well and truly alive. The Mariinsky orchestra shift between dream-like and majestic in a sublime interpretation echoed by superb dancers.
Viktoria Tereshkina’s delicate, fluent phrasing as Nikiya is at one with the music, although her mournful reserve in Act III feels rather too distant. In contrast Nadezhda Batoeva’s regal Gamzatti (to whom Solor is betrothed) shines. She dances with a triumphant flair – even a neatly covered wobble at the end of her Act II fouettes doesn’t dull a glowing performance.
Kimin Kim is the perfect partner as Solor. A clean and stylish dancer, his tight turns and exuberant elevation repeatedly draw deserving applause from the audience.
In the lively variations of Act II, the Mariinsky’s soloists sparkle. The Indian Dance brings an explosion of energy, Anastasia Petushkova stealing the scene with her striking athleticism, while Vasily Tkachenko proves he is rightly cast as an immortal being – the precision and elevation of his Golden Idol is otherworldly.
La Bayadere longs to be filled with the lush exoticism and grandeur that it no doubt originally held – an elephant on wheels and the floppy body of a plush tiger now look endearingly comical – but it’s an enjoyable and exquisitely danced close to the season.