And Aiken welcomed them with open arms.
The Russian National Ballet Theatre landed at the Etherredge Center stage at USCA on Thursday, March 5, 2015. They performed two pieces from their diverse repertoire, Chopiniana and Romeo and Juliet. The latter was the astoundingly better performance of the night with a bravissimo standing ovation at the conclusion. Spoiler Alert! The young lovers don’t make it. But Juliet’s dance of anticipation and Romeo’s dream sequence after downing the poison upon finding his soulmate seemingly dead were among the best dances I’ve seen in a long time. The diaphanously draped corps accompanying Romeo’s delirious dream was mesmerizing. The entire performance notched up the drama to on fire. Romeo was danced by Nurlan Kinerbaev, a graduate of the Alma-Ata Ballet School in Kazahstan. Juliet was danced by Maria Kleva, graduate of the Nesterova Moscow Ballet Academy. Their chemistry together was palpable. You could feel the audience inch forward in their seats to get closer to the pair as they commanded the stage.
The only downside to the performance was the tight fit on Etherredge’s smallish stage. The Russians brought their full company and at times the corps, especially in Chopiniana, crowded the principals to a tight square center stage. However, the stage direction by dancer-head assistant Artistic Director, Daev Alexander, for Romeo and Juliet perfectly fit the compact space. I don’t know who the sword-master was, but the aerial sword duels were magnificent as well.
Elena Khorosheva, a principal in the company and another graduate of the Nesterova Moscow Ballet Academy said the Ballet was on a five-month tour of the United States, lasting from January to May. They had been to California and Florida and were on their way to New York and Canada. Next stop is Savannah, GA. Elena dances Giselle when that is on the program. All the dancers rotate public relations duties too.
At intermission Elena appeared in the slightly chilly lobby in her Chopiniana costume with a down vest over to mingle and sell programs and mementos at the sales table. What a delightful encounter with a talented and beautiful Russian ballerina for your local reporter. The theatre was quite nearly sold out and once the word gets out next years tickets will be hard to come by. Put the Russian National Ballet Theatre on your calendars early!