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Svetlana Zakharova’s Amore review at London Coliseum – ‘an uneven star vehicle’

Svetlana Zakharova in Amore at London Coliseum. Photo: Batyr Annadurdyev Svetlana Zakharova in Amore at London Coliseum. Photo: Batyr Annadurdyev
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Svetlana Zakharova is the doyenne of the Bolshoi, famed for her rangy and regal aesthetic, the sumptuous suppleness of her line and extravagantly arched feet.

Amore, a triple bill showcase performed with Moscow colleagues, should be something of a stage scorcher but it’s a slightly muted affair overall, not really commensurate with Zakharova’s talent. Like great ballerinas before her, she’s cast off the pointe shoes and sought out specially made contemporary fare, with mixed results.

In Patrick de Bana’s Rain Before It Falls, there are contortions and contractions to disrupt classical comportment. Against a soundscape that mixes swampy electronica, Bach and thunderclaps, Zakharova’s teetering bourrees and unquiet arms speak of some inner torment. Sometimes she sits inscrutably at a table. Two men appear. While de Bana partners Zakharova through plunging arabesques, Denis Savin lurks downstage and provides distraction. Faintly demonic in black leather trousers and a sheer top, he slides around by the footlights and derails the duet. Despite these stagy trappings, the work has an atmospheric strangeness and Zakharova instils it with sorrowful intensity.

Clownish charm is on the agenda in Marguerite Donlon’s Strokes Through The Tail, an irreverent clothes-swapping romp through Mozart’s 40th Symphony. Zakharova is a slouchy ballerina in long tulle, accompanied by five poseurs in coattails.

It’s a lively mix of scuttles, pratfalls, slaps and moues but it feels forced; strained humour by numbers. Elsewhere, Yuri Possokhov’s Francesca da Rimini, set to Tchaikovsky, has pointework and doomed passion aplenty. While not exactly nuanced, it features compelling bravura steps.

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Uneven star vehicle for Bolshoi ballerina Svetlana Zakharova includes hammy passion and clownish humour