Based in the former capital of Almaty, it was founded in 1934 and its repertoire includes a range of classic and specially commissioned ballets. For its first visit to the UK, though, the company is bringing two tried and tested crowd pleasers, albeit of very different natures.
Choreographer Mikhail Fokine’s Chopiniana is one of the highest exponents of Romantic ballet. Also known as Les Sylphides, it’s a plotless ballet set on a a dreamy moonlit stage, where a poet, in black velvet vest and flowing silk shirt, dances with a group of forest sylphs dressed in ethereal long white tutus.
Dinara Esentaeva in Chopiniana. Photo: Nikolay Postnikov
Set to music by Chopin, the ballet premiered at the end of the 19th century and was immediately recognised as something new and extraordinarily well crafted. It offers the delights of well-drilled ensemble pieces alongside a variety of solos, pas de deux and trios; and Chopin’s music ranges from lyrical preludes, through wistful études and passionate polonaises.
The second ballet in the programme, Schéhérazade (pictured, top), is also by Mikhail Fokine, here with added choreography by the Italian dance-maker Tony Candeloro. Set to and inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov's eponymous score, It offers a stark contrast with Chopiniana.
Schéhérazade is set in a Western man’s fantasy of an exotic Eastern harem, with its sinuous bejewelled concubines, and fat, clumsy eunuchs, all ruled by a powerful sultan.
When the sultan goes away for a day, the lead concubine, Zobeida, bribes the chief eunuch to unlock the gates and allow in a group of eager male slaves. Zobeida herself gets the sexiest man of the lot, the Golden Slave; and when there is the right chemistry between the dancers, their duets are among the most erotic ever created for a ballet.
The sultan returns unexpectedly to find his harem in the throes of an orgy; needless to say, things end badly…
Kazakhstan used to be part of the Soviet Union; and to this day its dancers are trained in the highly demanding Russian method, with solid technique, exacting attention to ensemble coordination, and virtuoso displays for the men.
All that should be on show in this programme by the Abay Kazakh State Ballet Theatre; and with only one performance on offer, we advise you to book early. You don’t want to miss it.
|What||Abay Kazakh State Ballet Theatre, Coliseum|
|Where||London Coliseum, St Martin's Lane, , London , WC2N 4ES | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Charing Cross (underground)|
On 17 Nov 19, 19:30 Dur. TBC (one interval)
|Price||£10-£75 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|