Smooth, unforced strength

Igor Zelensky | The Lowry, Salford
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The Independent Culture

For whatever reason, male ballet stars seem more inclined to get together their own performing groups than ballerinas. Igor Zelensky is the latest to introduce his group to British audiences with a week of performances at the Lowry Centre's, Lyric Theatre. A star of the Kirov, Royal Ballet, and formerly New York City Ballet, he has made some interesting and unusual choices for the programme.

For whatever reason, male ballet stars seem more inclined to get together their own performing groups than ballerinas. Igor Zelensky is the latest to introduce his group to British audiences with a week of performances at the Lowry Centre's, Lyric Theatre. A star of the Kirov, Royal Ballet, and formerly New York City Ballet, he has made some interesting and unusual choices for the programme.

The most surprising is Balanchine's Apollo, given complete from the first solo onwards. The title role, which he has not danced in Britain before, suits him perfectly: his lithe, powerful physique; the smooth, unforced strength of his movement and an emotional commitment greater than he has shown lately in more conventional roles.

With Yulia Makhalina as Terpsichore, Irina Golub and Elvira Tarassova as the other muses, this was a good performance of a rewarding ballet which is not seen often enough. A shame, though, that Stravinsky's score has to be heard on tape - never entirely satisfactory. Makhalina and Zelensky also gave one of the more predictable numbers, the virtuosic Don Quixote pas de deux. Thomas Edur, the group's only non-Kirov dancer, partnered Svetlana Ivanova handsomely in duets from The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, and there was a glittering account of the famous "Corsair" showpiece by Tarassova and Andrei Batalov, whose multiple pirouettes and seemingly jet-propelled leaps are quite amazing.

This same couple also performed an intriguingly contrasted duet, "Autumn Flowers", by choreographer, Yevgeny Pansilov. This had Batalov holding Tarassova in involved manipulative lifts while himself standing on one leg, the other raised in high extensions.

Other attempts to get away from the standard formula of concert programmes were only partly successful. The duet from Barlanchine's Rubies does not work too well when ripped out of its full context, and Le Spectra de la Rose (as we saw lately during the Kirov season) suffers inordinately when given without its setting by Bakst of a plausible room with real windows. Andrian Fadeyev's account of Nijinsky's celebrated role is better than some, but is that enough?

Igor Zelensky showed another side of his talents by choreographing the show's finale, a display of one technical prowess after another. Zelensky's choice of traditional Japanese drama music was not obvious but worked well and his sequence arrangement was effective, with quiet passages of walking around between exciting bursts of bravura. Naturally he favoured himself, but everyone had their fair share of progressive moments of prominence in a cumulative display of brilliant dancing.

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