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Russian Ballet Icons review at London Coliseum – ‘disappointing gala performance’

Maria Sascha Khan and Nicholas MacKay at Russian Ballet Icons at London Coliseum. Photo: Marc Haegeman Maria Sascha Khan and Nicholas MacKay at Russian Ballet Icons at London Coliseum. Photo: Marc Haegeman
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Celebrating the 200th birthday of Imperial ballet master and choreographer Marius Petipa, there was a wealth of dance talent on display on the Coliseum stage for the annual Russian Ballet Icons gala – including stars of the Bolshoi, Mariinsky and Royal Ballet companies – but somehow it resulted in a bizarre and uncomfortable evening.

The grand pas de deux gala staples – from Don Quixote, Le Corsaire and Swan Lake – were all marked by unfortunate tumbles, shaky partnering and odd musicality. Mariinsky soloist Kimin Kim recovered nobly from his fall in Le Corsaire, compensating with eye-widening elevation and speed.

Vladislav Lantratov, of the Bolshoi, delivered flash and finesse in Don Q, but Maria Alexandrova’s performance was strangely underpowered. The pair returned later for the first UK glimpse of Yuri Possokhov’s controversy-stricken ballet Nureyev, in which Alexandrova’s voluminous tulle skirt eclipsed the slender Lantratov in lift after lift to the strains of Liszt. Little of the bombast that characterised Nureyev emerged – save for some hammy emoting and heavy pouting.

An extract from Julian and Nicholas MacKay’s upcoming ballet based on Russian painter Nicholas Roerich amounted to clumsy Caucasus campery and cod-mysticism. Royal Ballet soloist Fernando Montano jumped masterfully but wasn’t given a mention in the programme. Natalia Osipova’s absence also went unexplained.

Dishearteningly, strong performances from Mayara Magri (opening the event) and Francesca Hayward received scant applause.

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Vladislav Lantratov and Kimin Kim excel in an otherwise disappointing gala performance