Review: Russian State Ballet of Siberia – La Fille mal gardée @ St. David’s Hall

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Russian State Ballet of Siberia – La Fille mal gardée

St. David’s Hall

Wednesday 21st December 2016

Now in its 14th year of touring Cardiff, the Russian State Ballet of Siberia have frequented our national concert hall every festive period. In delivering the finest Russian ballet to us, we are gifted with respectful, reprisals of the original works.

Those who have been may be tired of seeing Swan Lake and The Nutcracker for the 50th time. Yet, La Fille mal gardée is an antidote to this. One of the oldest ballets in the repertoire, this hybrid work has utilised original French songs, then scores later by both Peter Ludwig Hertel and Ferdinand Hérold. This version is the traditionally used score by Hertel, in its perfectly arranged score for dances and the moments of humour.

The ballet never takes itself too seriously, though it does maintain the heft amount of dances in the second act, sacrificing what little story it has. Widow Simone (the ballet counterpart of Widow Twanky) has arranged her daughter Lise to be married to Alain, a young and infuriating boy. Her love is for another, Colas the young farmer and they discreetly meet and snuggle, only to the dismay of the Widow and Thomas, Alain’s father. How will they ever get away with their true feelings?

The story is very simple and naïve, but the moments of humour add to the dancing. You know these artists have trained for their lives for this and it shows in the technical vigour on display. As the incredibly busty Widow, Ekaterina Kozlovskaya is in her element, berating her child and having most of the comic moments. Elena Pogorelaya is the perfect Lise, with fine sense of movement and a true sense of tempo. As Colas, Kirill Bulychev is dashing and has thighs of steels, in his many lifts of Lise and own stomping around the stage. Maxim is here performed by Maxin Dashidondokov, a grumpy old man keen to see his son off to marriage, he only has one dance of mere flips in a circle. Stealing the show as Alain was Denis Pogorelaya, defining boyish mannerisms and realising how annoying that can be, the joy of this role is how unpolished Denis can make the boy’s sluggish movements. The corps of ensemble dancers and musicians prove how much work like this means to them and it doesn’t even have to be from their native country.

Personal highlights are the Widow’s famous clog dance (I still think the clogs could be louder) the couple’s enticing ribbon dance and Alain’s butterfly dance, in his messing about he reveals the location of the young lovers behind a screen (with a large gasp from the audience in this lovely moment).

Those unsure of where to start in ballet, should perhaps approach the girl who wandered.

A cheery and charming ballet.

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Russian State Ballet of Siberia continues at St. David’s Hall with performances of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, then a UK tour.


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