The Russian State Ballet of Siberia came to Wolverhampton on Sunday afternoon in the middle of an extended provincial tour showcasing four ballets. Although Wolverhampton is considerably warmer than Siberia at this time of year ( a good reason for decamping from a Russian Winter) a sharp nip in the Black Country air would have made the company feel at home. The afternoon’s performance was of The Nutcracker, on Monday they perform Swan Lake, before proceeding to Edinburgh.
Artistic Director Sergei Bobrov omits the Sugar Plum Fairy in a nod to Socialist Realism in Soviet Ballet in a production heavy on cast numbers and costume, but a little light on scenery.
The score by Tchaikovsky, now just over a hundred years old, is familiar and has endured, the melancholy, descending scale melody for the adagio of the Grand Pas de Deux, still stirs. Conductor Alexander Yudasin keeps time well, although a slower than usual tempo occasionally passed to languid resulting in the crescendos sounding a little rushed. Disappointingly the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy was played on a keyboard rather than a Celesta, aficionados will accept no substitute.
Marie, the prima ballerina delights, played by the elegant Natalia Bobrova ,always seems to be performing well within her capacity, whilst executing her curtseys and bows with studied aplomb. Her partner, Ivan Karnaukov, as the Prince was muscular and dashing.
The story of toys coming alive was popularised in film by Toy Story, but on stage takes on a magic of its own as an army of toy soldiers battle against a gang of mice . The spectacle is impressive but the first half set is let down by a painted backdrop incorporating a Christmas tree which fails to meet the performed production standards. Closing the first half the waltz of the snowflakes is a joy although some of the battement movement could have been tighter.
In the second half the divertissement sequence of national dance sumptuously dressed by Christina Fyodorova including Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian, and dancers delighted.
A lavish walk down with over twenty five dancers on stage was a visual feast leaving the audience entranced and satisfied. The Russian State Ballet of Siberia continue on tour till mid March performing The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Coppelia and La Fille Mal Gardee.