La Bayadère:St Petersburg Ballet Theatre

Norwich Theatre Royal

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With the tagline of “classic ballet performed the way it was intended”, the company performed their second offering of the week. La Bayadère (the temple dancer) is not in the A-list of dances but it is a very typical Russian piece with the theme of love, rejection and death, albeit in an exotic Indian setting.

Indeed, these ballets (Swan Lake, Giselle and so on) were really the soap operas of their time, with unbelievable storylines, much angst and a fair smattering of betrayal.

The Russians both produce and perform these pieces lavishly, with numerous costumes, fancy sets and a big company – 16 were in the corps, which you simply wouldn't see with a European troupe.

Many of the dancers are recent graduates from two of the city's leading ballet schools, the Vaganova School and the Moscow State Academy. But the star of the show is Irina Kolesnikova, a soloist since the age of 20, who tackles her role as the besotted temple dancer who is dumped with vigour. She is dazzling in the final act, set in the kingdom of the shades, where her trademark fouettes (turns) can't help but impress.

It is about as far away from the pieces produced by other regular dance visitors to the Theatre Royal – the Northern Ballet Theatre and the Richard Alston Dance Company – as you can imagine but certainly the audience appreciated its purity.

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Indeed, if modern dance companies are your champagne, then the St Petersburg crew are much more of a full bodied burgundy!

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