CAROLINE CULOT St Petersburg Ballet Theatre at Norwich Theatre Royal


Bringing us the second ballet in its week's double-bill, the St Petersburg company was grace and elegance personified last night.

The story of Giselle, not widely performed now, is about a peasant girl who dies from a broken heart.

Its theme is of jilted love and its second act is far superior to the first, with the dances of the Wilis, the spirits of betrothed girls who have died as a result of their lovers being unfaithful. The stage is full of 20 young girls in bridal dresses who dance in unison, all exquisite but all in sorrow. And it is in this act when principal Irina Kolesnikova as Giselle really excels in what are several sequences of extreme technical difficulty. And she has the perfect partner in the young blond Yuri Gloukhikh, her Prince Siegfried.

Kolesnikova and Gloukhikh dance perfectly ensemble, both somehow pushing the other to excellence.

It was indeed a fabulous ballet spectacle, although the first act, with the exception of the pas de deux danced by Lilia Akhmetchina and Dmitry Shevtsov, lacked pace.

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The second act, with its eerie sequences by the Wilis brought us all we were there to see – techincal mastery, elegance, beauty, ballet in its purest, most traditional form.

The St Petersburg company is becoming a regular at the Theatre Royal and long may it last. It pushes the boundaries of what is possible and gives the chance for dancers to become principals so young. It is this youth, this energy that gives the company a real edge and I always feel privileged to be in the crowd watching them.

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