Tour UK (Autumn 2005 - Winter 2006)

Classic which is sheer perfection - 21 October 2005, Belfast

Ballet performance wows despite a slipping beauty - 23 October 2005, Belfast

Familiar story still weaves its magic - 26 October 2005, Bath Chronicle

If the slipper fits... - 27 October 2005, The Bath Alternative

Ballet is a feast of sights and sounds - 27 October 2005, Bristol Evening Post

Having a ball with Cinderella - 27 October 2005, Wiltshire Gazette + Herald, Bath

Reviews - 27 October 2005, Western Daily Press

What a cracker of a ballet - 28 October 2005, Bath Chronicle

Moscow City Ballet review - 05 November 2005, BBC Cornwall

Feast for eyes and ears - 10 November 2005, Cornwall



Swan Lake - Moscow City Ballet - 20 January 2006, Halifax

Fragile beauty and thrills - 20 January 2006, The Evning Courier, Halifax

It's a dance of delights - 25 January 2006, Evening Chronicle, Newcastle

Critics - 25 January 2006, The Northern Echo, Newcastle

Taken back to a truly traditional Tchaikovsky ballet - 26 January 2006, The Journal, Newcastle

This show is a real cracker - 27 January 2006, Evening Chronicle, Newcastle

Romeo and Juliet, King's Theatre, Glasgow - 6 February 2006, The Herald, Glasgow

Review - 13 February 2006, Bucks Advertiser and Examiner, High Wycombe

Longest curtain call rounds off superb display - 20 February 2006, Ipswich Evening Star




21 October 2005, Belfast - Grand Opera House



For sheer passion, power and proof that human beings really can attain perfection, the Moscow City ballet's production of Swan Lake is hard to beat.

From the opening notes of Tchaikovsky's delicate masterpiece to the final triumph and release of Odette, Queen of the Swans, this fabulous fairytale held the Opera House opening night audience spellbound. Dance fans from all walks of life - as well as a few very lucky little girls - thrilled to the breath - taking portrayal of Prince Siegfried's search for his true love, Odette, and his battle to free her from the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart.

The entire company , in its 15th annual UK tour, delivered a polished yet passionate performance, but special mention must be made of Dmitri Scchemelinin's technicolour jester, a particular hit with the younger audience members.

However, it was Anastassiya Gubanova's beautifully-observed and executed performance as Odette/Odile which earned the audience's thunderous and much-deserved applause.

A true treat for the soul, Swan Lake comes very highly recommended and the memories of this exquisite extravaganza will keep you warm through the winter.

Just one minor gripe: surely the Opera House could have stretched to a few bouquets for the principal dancers, whose stamina and skill was rewarded by 15 minutes of applause by a grateful audience...


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23 October 2005, Belfast - Grand Opera House



Sleeping Beauty @ Grand Opera House


It must be the Billy Elliot effect, as there were lots od small boys as well as girls in the Opera House for Moscow City ballet's opening night. It's always a delight to hear the squeal of small excited spectators before the massive red velvet curtain opens to reveal the splendour of the stage. And when it's a Russian company, it's more or less guaranteed that the tutus will be sparkling, as indeed they were, in every colour of sugared almond.

Voluptuous velvet and lush lace lined up alongside tulle and sequins to make the costume designer (Elizaveta Dvorkina) top of the class for the schoolgirls around me. The king even had 'real gold shoes' I heard one small girl squeak, oh no, that was me, oops! The family audience was absorbed from the beginning of the glittering fable.

The ballet was the classic Tchaikovsky fairytale of the princess who is blighted soon after birth, because her parents have left someone off the invite list for her christening. When that someone is the wicked fairy Carabosse (German Blagoveshenskiy) they are in trouble.

I hope that Dmitry realised that the boos that greeted his curtain call were a tribute to his evil portrayal, rather than a reflection of his dancing abilities. he was splendid as the spiteful caster of the spell which means that Princess Aurora will sleep for 100 years.

Unfortunately the princess had a real-life misfortune befall her on the Opera House's raked stage.

An awkward landing for guest artist Natalia Shchelokova, which brought a concerned gasp from the audience, meant that she had to retire at half-time on the opening night of the company's UK tour. Her sublime replacement (Maya Vishniakova) was delightful, but also necessitated a change of prince.

This enabled the audience to see a full range of the male as well as female talent from Moscow City Ballet. Talgat Kozhabaev is from the old Cossack region of Ukraine and has the high cheek-bones and leaping legs of his heritage.

And the live orchestra under Belarus Principal Conductor Igor Shavruk set a cracking high tempo pace for the show. Those little Billy Elliots in the audience must have been inspired; they'll be bounding across their Ulster ballet classes with renewed brio. And audience members will be pleased to know that a hospital X-ray confirmed that no bones were broken in Natalia's mishap.

Liz Kennedy.

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26 October 2005, Bath - Theatre Royal


Cinderella Mocow City Ballet Theatre Royal, Bath


Blockbuster movies and musicals may come and go but it is immensely heartwarming to see how magic of a simple fairytale, a few dancers and a fairy basic set can still pack'em in too.

Moscow City Ballet is in Bath this week with both Cinderella, danced to Prokofiev's music, and Tchaikovskiy's The Nutcracker. We may have seen or heard the Cinderella story 100 times before but it still weaves its magic on anymore from five to, well, someone who is old enough to have seen it 100 times before.

All of life is woven into this simple tale which is why we can all watch it again and again. More importantly though the music has been created by a man who believed that an artist's role was to both beautify and defend life and to consciously extol it, leading man on towards a radiant future.

Here, too, is dance that follows years of tradition and perfect introduction for young people to the joys, not only of story told through this art form, but to the theatre itself.

If ever there was a perfect marriage of performance and place to the joys, not only of story told through this art form, but to the theatre itself.

If ever there was a perfect marriage of performance and place this must surely be it. A magical story told in everyone's idea of a magical idea.

Christopher Hansford.

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27 October 2005, Bath - Theatre Royal


Mocow City Ballet: Cinderella
by Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky
Theatre Royal, Bath


This production would be a wonderful introduction to ballet for people of any age who would like to know more about it. The story is universally familiar and this talented company makes the most of opportunities for comedy and sheer fun. They occasionally found themselves strapped for space on the modest Theatre Royal stage, which does not lend itself to expansive manoeuvres, but they coped admirably with the constrictions.

Nataliya Padalko danced title title role with charm and delicacy, technically excellent and with the acting ability to express the whole range of emotions from despair to joy with superb clarity. Sergey Zolotarev was a dashing young Prince, and again very expressive. Majoring on comedy to the point of slapstick, was German Blagoveshenskiy, as the King. And there were three highly entertaining performances from stepmother Alexandra Moiseenko and the two ugly sisters Marina Ivushkina and Elena Kotelkina. The King's four ministers each created individual and quirky characters, who may not feature in the traditional version of the fairy tale but they acted as useful links in the story.

The corps de ballet was perfectly coordinated and created the most memorable scene, when a dozen dancers, representing figures on the clock face, mirroring an illuminated dial on the backcloth, danced out the striking of midnight at the Prince's ball. Prokofiev's score is not the most exciting or memorable ballet accompaniment and the orchestra was often a little ragged. But the dancing left little to be desired.

The company is also performing The Nutcracker this week.

Jo Bayne.

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27 October 2005, Bath - Theatre Royal


Cinderella: Theatre Royal Bath

? FRIEND of mine would only accompany his wife to the ballet under sufferance and then sit with his eyes shut merely listening to the music ­ he would have missed a visual treat at this performance.

In a gloriously colourful Moscow City Ballet production the biggest plaudits must go to costume designer Natalia Povago who festooned the stage, the purple-dominated ballroom being the highlight.

Sergei Prokofiev's music for the pantomime tale is not as well·known as his Ro?eo and Juliet or Peter and the Wolf but it allows choreographer Victor Smirnov-Golovanov scope to develop the characters.

Nataliya Padalko, as the put-upon kitchen waif, and Sergey Zolotarev (the prince), make a diminutive leading duo at their best in the final scene.

But there is great strength from the supporting dancers, particularly Gulnur Sarsenova as the elegant Fairy Godmother, German Blagoveshenskiy as the dotty king and Gennadiy Batalov as the dance minister.

The ugly sisters are curiously named Dumpy and Skinny - strange indeed when no one in this 50-strong company is either ugly or dumpy, and everyone is skinny.

Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker is the Moscow City Ballet's presentation for the rest of this week.

Alan King.

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27 October 2005, Bath - Theatre Royal


Moscow City Ballet: Cinderella: Theatre Royal Bath

THIS production would be a wonderful introduction to ballet for novices in the art.

The story is universally familiar and this talented company makes the most of opportunities for comedy and sheer fun.

They coped admirably with the constrictions of the modest Theatre Royal stage.

Nataliya Padalko danced the title role with charm and delicacy, -technically excellent and with the acting ability to express the whole range of emotions from despair to joy with superb clarity.

Sergey Zolotarev was a dashing young Prince, and again very expressive. Majoring on comedy to the point of slapstick, was German Blagoveshenskiy, as the King.

And there were three highly entertaining and skilful, performances from stepmother Alexandra Moiseei1ko and the two ugly sisters Marina Ivushkina and Elena Kotelkina.

The corps de ballet was perfectly co-ordinated and created the most striking scene, (forgive the pun) when a dozen dancers, representing figures on the clock face, mirroring an. illuminated dial on the backcloth, danced out the strokes of midnight at the Prince's ball.

Prokofiev's score is not the most exciting or memorable ballet accompaniment and the orchestra was occasionally a little ragged.

But the quality of the dancing more than compensated.

The company is also performing The Nutcracker this week.

Jo Bayne.

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27 October 2005, Bath - Theatre Royal


Cinderella: Theatre Royal Bath

WITH plenty of comedy and colour, Moscow City Ballet' Cinderella is the perfect half-term treat.

The classic fairytale has an ideal storyline for a ballet with the downtrodden Cinderella, her spiteful step sisters and stepmother, a handsome prince to save the day and a fairy godmother to sprinkle some magic on the proceedings.

The highly skilled group of dances rarely disappoint; they are perfectionists who know how to entertain and basically put on a good show. The set is simple - a non-fussy backdrop to some fantastic dancing. The corps-de-ballet is spot-on - the dancers make it look so easy as they keep in time with each other - while German Blagoveshenskiy and Alexandra Moiseenko are great fun in their comic roles as The King and The Stepmother, respectively. There's also plenty of sparkle (in both performance and costume) from the four fairies and the Fairy Godmother (Gulnur Sarsenova). The company also finds an outlet for exploring both Spanish and belly dancing as the Prince (Sergey Zolotarev) travels the world to find his lost love.

An inspired production. The company presents The Nutcracker, until Saturday.


Pip Larkham.

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28 October 2005, Bath - Theatre Royal


The Nutcracker Theatre Royal, Bath

?? the ballet. Forget stuffy tutus and pinched faces, the Moscow city Ballet's Nutcracker is an explosion of colourful delight upon the stage.

From curtain up on crackling fireplace and Christmas tree drooping beneath tinsel and baubles, to the bright blooms and fleshy petals of the Flower Kingdom, this production is an absolute sensory treat.

The costumes are fabulous ­ from stomping mice to pirouetting plants, themed with elements from traditional dances across the world, playful children, and a twirling Magician Godfather, you become completely absorbed in the fantastical tale of little Clara.

No matter how many ballets you have seen, you cannot fail to gasp at the elegance, the strength that these dancers exude as men leap high in the air or toss ballerinas up in their arms as though weightless, all to the sounds of Tchaikovsky, played by the Moscow Ballet Orchestra.

The triumphant music sweeps you up in the emotion - only slightly distracting was the occasional use of synthesiser at the end of the first act - tsk, I'm sure Tchaikovsky would not approve.

The first act lays the foundations for the fairytale to unfold, but it is in the second act in the Flower Kingdom where the dancers really come into their own and you see some truly spectacular performances, proving just how firmly the Moscow city has established its reputation as one of the world's greatest ballet companies.

Round up the children and do whatever you must to get tickets.


Abby Ray.

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05 November 2005, Truro - Hall for Cornwall

The Moscow City Ballet brought the beautiful 'Swan Lake' to the Hall for Cornwall in November 2005. Find out what our reviewer thought of this latest production.

After last years stunning performance of ‘Sleeping Beauty' it was with much anticipation that I turned up at the Hall for Cornwall to watch this year's full Ballet production of ‘Swan Lake' by The Moscow City Ballet.

The most striking thing about this production company is their beautiful attention to detail with regard to stage sets and costumes, which were, as ever, superb.

However, being only 12 shows into a staggering 82 run performance across the UK running until March 11 2006 and including performances of all major Ballets; like Sleeping Beauty; The Nutcracker; Cinderella; Romeo and Juliet and tonight's full performance of ‘Swan Lake; it was clear that there were still a few nerves in the performances of the principal dancers and the Corps de Ballet. This was not surprising after just a couple performances of this production in Belfast before hitting the Duchy!

The Corps de Ballet were very tight and together as a unit and looked beautiful on stage, but were however slightly stiff in their upper arm and body movement although this did not deter the enjoyment of their performance.

The Spanish princess (Evgeniya Bespalova) was superb and showed sparkle in both her movement and feel; whilst the Jester (Dmitry Shchemelinin) worked hard in his role showing again good movement of arms; body and feet and plenty of humour that had the audience captivated. The Venetian Princess (Valeriya Bystrova) also showed great character and style.

The four cygnets were precise in their movement and held the stage very well in their short performance although the choreography for the four Swans lacked a little excitement and refinement.

The principal dancers, Gulnur Sarsenova as Odette/Odile and Talgat Kozhabayev as Prince Siegfried looked a little nervous and lacked a little quality in their upper bodies, normally associated with this company, but no doubt that will soon be ironed out as the performances progress.

They certainly worked hard in their roles and the audience appreciated the effort that was sustained throughout their performances. Gulnur showed a nice line in her ‘Arabesque' and her arms were suitably ‘Swan like', whilst Talgat showed great jumping ability to keep the audience enthralled.

The entire company worked hard all evening and no doubt these minor quibbles will be sorted out in the following performances at the Hall. It was overall another very enjoyable performance by the MCB and delighted an audience of young and old.

It is a great credit to the Hall for Cornwall that they continue to bring these fine touring companies to the Duchy and allow people of all ages to immerse themselves in the ‘magic of the Ballet'. I for one am already looking forward to their next production!

Julia Fagence.

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10 November 2005, Truro - Hall for Cornwall



MOSCOW City Ballet can always be relied on the bringing the great ballet classics to the masses with a wonderful combination of technical virtuosity, imaginative interpretation and ravishing production values.

In their 15th consecutive tour of the UK during which they have given no fewer than 1,500 performances, it therefore came as no surprise that their version of the most losing of all the timeless classical ballet favorites was another unmitigated success that received a rapturous reception from a capacity audience at the hall for Cornwall last week.

It was hard to imagine that the company could match their spell-binding production of The Sleeping beauty that so entranced local ballet lovers on their last visit to Cornwall. But once again they came up trumps as the tragic love story of prince Siegfried and the Queen of the Swans, Odette, unfolded with breathtaking brilliance.

The opening scenes at the Prince's 21st birthday party were elegantly portrayed in a swirl of exquisite colour and movement. At the heart of the party was the jester, danced with flamboyant energy by Dmitry Shchemelinin in a real crowd-pleasing performance.

But the secret of the company's lasting success was never more clearly demonstrated than by the effortless precision of its corps de ballet in the scene by the lake that followed.

In the lead roles Talgat Kozhabayev, as the love stricken Siegfried, and Gulnur Sarsenova, in the dual role of Odette and temptress Odile, were the perfect foil for her feminine charms, whether innocent or seductive.

The company's own orchestra, conducted by Igor Shavruk, were deservedly acclaimed for their accomplished musicianship at the end of the performance which was a feast for the eyes and ears from beginning to end.

Peter Hayman.

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20 January 2006, Halifax - Victoria Theatre


? stage full of pure white, not a single swan out 01 place, each flutter and 8tep impeccably coordinated to fulfill the wants and desires of what a ballet should be like.

Swan Lake-a tale wrapped with love and betrayal, ending with an eternal pact between two fresh young people, one destined to die, the other never to leave his beloved's side.

Anastasia Gubanova gave an electric performance and was convincing as the shy, beautiful swan (Odette), then vibrant and daring as the daughter (Odile) of the evil sorcerer. Prince Seigfried (Talgat Kozhabayev) was a darting mystery, and his friend ????? (Sergey ZoIotarev) was a delightful shining light on a well-spaced stage.

Von Rothbart, the evil sorcerer (Adel Kinzikeev) showed such flare in his moves and held the audience in his evil grip. His eyes penetrated right through me . I liked the amusing Jester (Dmltry Schemelinin), who constantly got my attention.

The music was fantastic and went from strength to strength alongside the dancers. It was pitched perfectly, not a note out of sync. The whole Orchestra just gelled.

Tchaikovsky would have marvelled at their performance. I was speechless.

David Knights.

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20 January 2006, Halifax - Victoria Theatre


FOR almost 18 years, Moscow City Ballet has done a wonderful job in bringing its beautifully-trained young dancers to a wide and appreciative ballet going public.

Victor Smirnov - Golovanov, artistic director, and his wife, Ludmila Nerubashenko, principal ballet mistress, have created a distinctive company that retains a perennial freshness of approach to the classical repertoire displays real joy in performing despite the rigours of touring.

Swan Lake tells the story of Siegfried's love for the Swan Queen, Odette, and how he is tricked by the evil magician Rothbart, into betraying her for his own daughter, Odile.

The medieval pageantry and gothic splendour of Siegfried's castle contrasted tellingly with the bleak enchanted lakeside, where Rothbart, a spookily agile and menacing Adel Kinzikeev, rules supreme over the doomed swan maidens, danced with eerie precision by the impeccable corps de ballet.

As Odette, Anastasia Gubanova only 18, danced with fragile lyricism. As Odile she confuses Siegfried by first appearing in a black and white tutu, with some attendants in black and others in white - an innovation that was very effective. As Odile she was very teasing and seductive through perhaps a little to knowing.

As Benno, Siegfried's friend, Sergey Zolotarev was animated and engaging, dancing with notable elegance and precision, particularly in act one with Maya Vishnyakova and Evgeniya Bespalova.

Of the handsomely attired and distinctive princesses in the third act, Natalia Padalko, Gulnur Sarsenova and Valeriya Bystrova particularly impressed. Everyone on stage took a real interest in what was going on. This was a production that showed meticulous attention to details.

Watchful conductor, Igor Shavruk ensured Tchaikovsky's wonderful music underscored every nuance of drama right up to the thrilling climax.

The Sleeping Beauty can be seen tonight and tomorrow.

Julia Anderson.


25 January 2006, Newcastle - Theatre Royal


The Nutcracker is the world's most popular ballet.

That was borne out by the fact the Theatre Royal was forced to put on an extra show during Moscow City Ballet's run (tomorrow, matinee) due to ticket demand.

Personally, it has never been one of my favourites. But having witnessed the opening performance last night, I could be convinced otherwise.

I adored the company's Romeo and Juliet the previous evening, and this version of The Nutcracker - with the original Petipa choreography - is a joy to watch.

My partner for the evening disagreed somewhat, being more accustomed to the 20th Century Balanchine choreography, but judging by the lengthy applause at the end of the performance, I think he was in the minority.

The Nutcracker is certainly the most accessible of ballets, telling the tale of Clara who is given a book, The Nutcracker and The Mouse King, as a gift at a Christmas Eve party for her.

As in all good fairytales, the characters leap to life from the pages and make for a stage filled to the brim with colourful costumes and delightful dancing.

Act Two, of course, boasts the most famous of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker pieces (I'll name that advert in one - the different sets of music have been used so many times to sell wares on the telly!) and is enchanting throughout.

Evgeniya Bespalova makes for a thrilling Clara, from her footwork to her facial expressions, she is mesmerising from beginning to end.

She has good backing too from Mikhail Mikhailov as the Nutcracker Prince and Gennadiy Batalov as Drosselmeyer, who fight for her affections.

Victor Smirnov-Golovanov does a cracking job of directing, though at times you do wonder how he fits all the corps de ballet on stage! He packs `em in - and you half expect them to end up kicking each other by mistake - but, no, it is all worked out to a tee.

Those lucky enough to have tickets for this run of The Nutcracker should leave with smiles on their faces.

It is certainly one of the most entertaining versions I have witnessed (and dare I say it, on a par with Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker, which was a totally different take on the tale).

A triumphant week at the Royal for Moscow City Ballet. Hurry back soon!

Gordon Barr.

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25 January 2006, Newcastle - Theatre Royal


Moscow City ballet: Romeo & Juliet / The Nutcracker, Newcastle Theatre Royal

Artistic director and founder Victor Smirnov-Golovanov blows away the cobwebs with this lavish new production of the world's favourite love story, Romeo & Juliet.

I've sometimes found Russian ballet a bit staid in its classical perfection,but there's nothing staid about this performance by the Moscow City Ballet. The grace, beauty and athleticism are there in spades but there's also humour and a youthful joy about it which came as a refreshing surprise. The costumes are gorgeous and the company's own orchestra under the direction of igor Shavruk gives full value to Prokofiev's discordant and satisfying score. There are two intervals in a performance lasting over three hours, which turned out to be no hardship at all.

The characters are clearly defined: an enchanting Juliet cheekily teasing her Nurse, unaware of her parents' plan for her impending marriage. Romeo is the romantic, sighing over another girl to the amusement of his fun-loving friends until it becomes obvious to all that he is genuinely smitten with Juliet, daughter of the rival house of Capulet. Romeo's friend Mercutio is a joker to the last, assuring his pals that he's fine as he dies from a sword-thrust. juliet's dangerous cousin Tybalt is darkly charismatic and determined to save his young cousin from the clutches of the house of Montague.

All were superb and richly deserved the cheers and the thunderous and protracted applause they received.

Someone had brought flowers to throw onto the stage; I wish I'd thought of it.

Sue Heath.

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26 January 2006, Newcastle - Theatre Royal


Moscow City ballet's The Nutcracker, Theatre Royal Newcastle

This truly traditional Nutcracker sees choreographer Victor Smirnov-Golovanov revive the spirit of Marius Petipa, who began work choreographing the original ballet in 1892.

Smirnov-Golovanov has rejected the best known George balanchine version from 1954 and taken the ballet right back to its late 19th Century roots. If you think of classical dance performed on a stage lined with a beautifully structured corps de ballet, this is what you get with the Moscow City Ballet.

The Kingdom of the Flowers is a pink paradise with eight ballerinas on either side to adorn the big set pieces. At times there are than 20 dancers on stage, all dressed in exquisite pearly pink.

The only problem with such a big company performing at the Theatre Royal is that at times it looks a little cramped.

However this takes nothing away from the lvishness of this production with its grandiose set and costumes straight from the vault of classical ballet. Evgeniya bespalova is faultless as the captivating Clara, Mikhail Mikhailov solid as the Nutcracker Prince while Gennadiy Batalov commands the show as Clara's Godfather Drosselmeyer.

The tension between the three is well acted, as Drosselmeyer (the sorcerer) competes with the Prince for Clara. All the dancers are keen to connect with the audience using lots of eye contact, and the performance is broken up by regular applause.

The Moscow City Ballet Orchestra play live and, as always, the magnificently melodramatic score by Tchaikovsky is paramount.

Tamzin Lewis.

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27 January 2006, Newcastle - Theatre Royal


Romeo and Juliet, Moscow City Ballet, Theatre Royal, Newcastle.

It is perhaps the greatest love story of them all - and Moscow City Ballet does the tale of Romeo and Juliet justice indeed.

It is certainly colourful, from the bright costumes to the impressive sets.

The set changes, in fact, are flawless, while the design gives the Theatre Royal's stage a much larger feel - just as well as this is one large company.

Performed in three acts, Romeo and Juliet is lengthy, but the time flies by as the tragic tale of the star-crossed lovers unfolds.

I found the performance more entertaining and watchable than many a production of Shakespeare's text, with Prokofiev's fantastic score underpinning the goings-on.

The Dance of the Knights is an undoubted highlight, and a definite audience pleaser. Natalia Padalko makes for a sweet Juliet, and seems perfectly matched to Mikhail Mikhailov's Romeo. The pair make the most of the balcony scene, to stunning effect.

In dazzling red, Talgat Kozhabayev steals the show as Romeo's arch enemy Tybalt.

The sword fighting scenes are excellently executed, while the unfolding drama is etched on the faces of the performers.

My only niggle throughout the whole production was the noise levels of the dancers landing on the special flooring.

Was the mic too near? Was the flooring loose in places? At times it detracted from the dancing and proved somewhat irritating.

That said, this is a fine performance of Romeo and Juliet of which Moscow City Ballet should feel justifiably proud.

Gordon Barr.

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06 Februaty 2006, Glasgow - King's Theatre


From the very first strains of Prokofiev's atmospherically-charged score, this Moscow City Ballet production declares for tragedy: the opening tableau foreshadows the deaths, not just of Romeo and Juliet but of Mercutio and Tybalt too – all cut down in the fullness of youth because their elders – two old men, staggering to fight with over-large swords – couldn't see beyond clannish feuding and family "honour".

It's a broodingly dramatic prologue to a vivid staging recently choreographed by the company's artistic director, Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, in celebration of his own 70th birthday – it is, in fact, a gift to his dancers, especially the men. If Swan Lake – seen earlier in the week – allowed his ballerinas to shine, this Romeo and Juliet allows the lads to flex impressive muscle. Talgat Kozhabayev, a musing, almost melancholy Prince in Swan Lake, now swaggers on in red-black-and-gold splendour as a thunder-browed Tybalt with a short fuse and technique that hollers "prowess" with every jump. Gennadiy Batalov's nimble, roguish Mercutio heads up the roister-doister Montague brigade – the choreography for this quartet of chums brims over with cheeky energy, has a wonderful larky camaraderie that makes Mercutio's death seem such a waste.

What of Romeo? Well, no wonder Natalia Padalko's bright, joyful Juliet is instantly smitten.

He has a kind of laid-back class that switches, when they come together, into molten ardour. Their first duet is a succession of high-flying lifts interspersed with hungry snogging that's touchingly teenage. Padalko's transition into courageous womanhood is powerfully done – though, overall, Act III does pile on the protracted angst before the poignant end. But gosh, with costumes as engagingly vivid as a fifties Technicolor musical and some fast-paced, exuberant dancing, swashbuckling fights and spookily-veiled harbingers of doom, this Romeo and Juliet was certainly well worth catching.


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13 Februaty 2006, Wycombe Swan


Lucky for those who can catch the Moscow City Ballet as it tours around the UK, especially for youngsters who get a chance to see strictly classical dancing superbly executed. This is the company?s 15th annual tour, with their orchestra, and they don?t stay long in one place. In High Wycombe they performed Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

This fine performance of Swan Lake was a happy-ending version new to me. There?s no shooting party, so although we don?t see the fluttering of the dying swan which Margot Fonteyn did so touchingly, we can rejoice that the souls of Odette, by guest dancer Natalia Shelokova, and Prince Siegfried by Mikhail Mikhailov, escape the evil Von Rothbart, (Adel Kinzikeev), and secure in their love, rise united above the assembled swans to eternal happiness.

The exciting production was spectacular with its scenery and colourful elaborate costumes. As well as a showcase for highly trained solo dancing, the corps de ballet of 26 swans were drilled to perfect precision, holding their poses without a tremor. The four cygnets were exactly the same size so their pas de quatre was perfectly in unison. Dancers are drawn from far and wide in Russia.

Prince Siegfried could not be diverted by five contenders for his hand, each of whom danced in the style of their origin: Hungary, Spain, Venice and Poland, and each attended by four accompanying dancers suitably costumed.

This sequence was a ballet in itself. The Prince, though, is attracted by Odile. She is being manipulated by the villain Von Rothbart. Her spectacular dancing, with an eye to Rothbart?s approval, was dramatic in a way Odette?s more feminine personality was not. It was hard to believe that these two roles were danced by the same ballerina (Shelokova).

Frances Chidell.

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20 Februaty 2006, Ipswich Regent Theatre


Moscow City Ballet, Sleeping Beauty, Ipswich Regent Theatre

WHAT a treat to see the usually abandoned orchestra pit of the Regent full to bursting with musicians.

Ballet productions can, to a large extent, be made or broken by the quality of the music, with a recorded score usually responsible for the breaking.

For a touring company, Moscow City Ballet is somewhat unusual in that it travels with it own orchestra, a wise move. It meant Tchaikovsky's score was the main attraction of the night.

This company is known to a large extent for the quality of its Corps de Ballet and during Sleeping Beauty it was easy to see why.

Well rehearsed and working brilliantly as a team, the corps did the company proud with several set pieces.

The soloists had their work cut out with some demanding choreography and for the most part were faultless.

One or two moments where the timing was a little off were more than outshone by the faultless displays of precision point work from the female soloists, while the men performed with energy and character.

Beautiful costumes and a cast that often had the Regent stage packed with dancers made the show seem luxurious.

The story of Sleeping Beauty perhaps isn't the best of ballets and with the story-telling over very quickly in the second half, it was on to several dances performed by the soloists and corps.

The evening was rounded,off with the longest curtain call I have witnessed, but for the most part these dancers and musicians had earned it - along with the whoops and whIstles that accompanied the clapping.

Helen Johns.

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