Kirov Lights Up Los Angeles
REVIEW by Willard Manus

Kirov Ballet returned to Los Angeles for the first time in ten years with a triumphant and luminous production of Marius Petipa's LA BAYADERE (music by Ludwig Minkus). It was grande ballet, 19th century romantic, tour de force ballet, delivered with stunning virtuosity and flair by a company whose high standards are being upheld by artistic director Makhar Vaziev and his well-trained (and youthful) dancers.

Diana Vishneva danced Nikiya, Irina Golub, Gamzatti and Leonid Sarafanov, Solor on the night I attended (with Andrey Ivanov playing the high-leaping Golden Idol). As Nikiya, the doomed temple dancer in ancient India, Vishneva was ravishing--at once lyrical and passionate, beautiful and elegant with a slim, supple body and dazzling footwork. She was not only technically proficient but projected the character's inner pain and longing with the charisma of a star actor.

Golub was even more forceful and passionate as Gamzatti, Nikiya's rival for the affections of the warrior Solor. The latter was portrayed by the 17-year-old Sarafanov, who survived early nervousness and stumbles to dance confidently and magnificently as the four-act ballet went on. With his long, slender build, good looks and athleticism, could this be another Barashnykov in the making?

The Kirov brought over not only its exotic sets and costumes but its full orchestra, which was conducted by Mikhail Sinkevich. The total effect of the production was somewhat overpowering: a blast from the past of classical ballet of the highest order.

The Kirov's Los Angeles appearance launched the company's national tour of the USA. Call Ticketmaster.