Seldom is high expectation met, never mind exceeded. The Mikhailovsky Ballet, visiting New York from St. Petersburg from November 11th through the 23rd, takes the spectacular and the epic to new heights.
In “The Flames of Paris,” which ran over the weekend, revolutionary fervor and romantic zeal coupled with a robust cast are a rewarding combination.
The stage of the David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center embraces the dancers, giving them ample space to champion “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.”
“The Flames of Paris” is an extravaganza unlike any you’ve likely seen before. From the lavish Royal Court to the elaborate Paris square, “The Flames of Paris,” based on a book by Felix Gras, celebrates the storming of the Tuilleries in 1792. The story, of course, is an alegory for the Russian rebellion of 1917.
Theatricality, combined with expert dancing and a rousing score by Boris Asafiev, a Soviet era composer who had seven ballets under his belt when commissioned to produce this tribute to the Bolshevik uprising, give this production its sweep and power. Mikhail Messerer, Ballet Master in Chief of the Mikhailovsky, has re-configured the original choreography by Vasily Voynonen to bring “The Flames of Paris” into the modern era.
His staging is true to the original production, with costumes by Vladimir Dmitriev and a revival of the stage and costume design by Vyacheslav Okunev.
In Scene I of the first act, we see the vicious brutality of the Marquis de Beauregard (Mikhail Venshchikov). Scene II reveals the extravagant excesses of the Royal Court of Louis XVI (Alexei Malakhov.) Then in come the rebel masses.
“The Flames of Paris” is an intelligently framed polemic in which the people’s happiness is represented by a Marsellaisese militiaman Philippe and his fiancee Jeanne (Ivan Zaytsev and Angelina Vorontseva at our performance.) Zaytsev and Vorontseva execute the astounding leaps an turns that make ballet so exhilirating.
The power of Zaytsev’s breath-catching jetes belie his slim frame. His is a triumphant exhibition of the pleasures of classical ballet. Vorontseva balances and twirls on her toes in an endless display of pirouettes so joyously that mere cries of brava and applause seem like too small a reward for the pleasure she gives.
Adding to the populist theme, there is dancing in Basque clogs– the sabot from whence we get “saboteur,” but that is a different story. There are also other folkloric and character dances from the Fanadole in the streets of Paris to the rebellious Carmgnoles.
“The Flames of Paris” is a glorious production. For more of the schedule for the rest of the Mikhailovsky Ballet tour and for tickets, please visit The David H. Koch Theatre or go to the Mikhailovsky site.