The Mariinsky - Glory Be!

Mariinsky At The Royal Opera House

On a night when gloom had descended on the markets, The Royal Opera House offered a chance to escape with the Mariinsky Ballet.

Considered to be the best classical ballet company in the world, they presented three short pieces on the 5th of August, all more modern than the Swan Lake and other classics for which they are so adored. I was curious to see how it would be.

In Scotch Symphony, the music was still classical by Mendelssohn, but the choreography was Balanchine. They appeared in soft pink featherlight dresses, seemingly floating on point, heir toes magically carrying them so gracefully it took your breath away. Arms gently waving with the music, in harmony with each other but not in a forced, rigid way, just as if that’s what they do naturally. And, of course, such is their training, so arduous and long, that is does become natural for these dancers to behave like snowflakes, so light and delicate, dancing in a light breeze.

The second piece was equally well danced, but the three couples somehow didn’t evoke the same magic, even though the music was by Chopin and I had thought that would be perfect. But Jerome Robbins is not the right chorographer for these dance athletes. His fluid, simple style is beautiful, but far too easy for them. It’s as if you asked Ferran Adrià to make a hamburger. No doubt it would be very palatable, but he’s capable of so much more.

So I was happy to see these gorgeous dancers perform to music by Tschaikovsky in Ballet Imperial, and with Balanchine again as a choreographer. Here they were at their best, supremely elegant with great simplicity, totally graceful with no pretentiousness. This must be the most wonderful corps de ballet today, and a special mention must be made to Yevgenia Obraztsova. I haven’t seen such a delicate, yet totally precise dancer, in a long time.

As this is their 50th anniversary season, may there be 50 more to come.