CULTURE

Russian superstars of world ballet in Athens

The beauty of classical ballet continues to thrill world audiences thanks to its purity, accuracy and discipline. In this universe of harmony and hard work, two schools of classical ballet stand out: Russia’s Bolshoi and Mariinsky theaters continue to nurture talent and stage unrivaled performances. Soloists from both renowned companies as well as other dance companies join forces in Athens this week for four unique performances featuring works from the world’s classical ballet repertory in tandem with more contemporary pieces – a number of works presented in this country for the first time. At the Pallas «Russian Ballet – Super Stars Gala» opens at the downtown Pallas Theater tonight, with performances running to Friday. Essentially, the dance gala follows two sold-out performances which previously took place at the Herod Atticus Theater – more than 10,000 flocked to the open-air theater in 2005 and 2006. You want names? Svetlana Zakharova, Madezhda Gracheva, Ilze Liepa, Tatiana Kuzmina, Galina Stepanenko, Marianna Ryzhkina will be performing on the women’s front. And on the men’s: Farukh Ruzimatov, Sergej Philin, Dmitri Gudanov, Ajdar Akhmetov, Andrej Uvarov, Mark Peretokin, Alexander Ananyan and Genadi Yanin. Originally established in 1776, the Bolshoi theater’s productions were initially staged in a private home, before the company purchased the Petrovka Theater in 1780. Since 1824, the company’s home has been on Theater Square in Moscow – in a building currently under restoration, with performances taking place on an adjacent stage. Established in Saint Petersburg in 1860, the Mariinsky theater quickly became a prestigious stage, playing host to premieres of works by Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, among others. In Athens, gala stars include Svetlana Zakharova, born in the Ukraine in 1979 and as of 2003 a Bolshoi principal dancer; Nadezhda Gracheva, born in Kazakhstan in 1969, a Bolshoi prima ballerina since the early 1990s; Ilze Liepa, daughter of celebrated dancer Maris Liepa; Galina Stepanenko, born in Moscow in 1966, a noted Bolshoi figure currently appearing in the company’s international engagements; Marianna Ryzhkina, a Bolshoi principal dancer who appears regularly as a guest artist with Metropolitan Classical Ballet; Farukh Ruzimatov, an intense artist and former Mariinsky star, currently ballet director of the Musorgsky Classical Ballet and Opera Theater in Saint Petersburg, whose Fund in Support of Musical Theater was established in that same city two years ago, in an effort to aid in the development of theatrical art in Russia. Highlights The Pallas program offers something for every dance taste. Throughout the four evenings, audiences will enjoy, among others: extracts from Marius Petipa’s well-known ballets,«Bayadere» (grand pas) and «Don Quixote;» Alberto Alonso’s take on George Bizet’s celebrated «Carmen;» a scene from Cesare Pugni’s «The Pharaoh’s Daughter,» based on an adaptation by Pierre Lacotte of the original choreography by Marius Petipa; a scene from Sergei Prokofiev’s «Cinderella,» based on a choreography by Yuri Possokov; «Red Giselle,» a ballet based on the life of ballerina Olga Spessivtseva (1895-1991), choreographed by Boris Eifman; a scene from Tchaikovsky’s «Queen of Spades» as choreographed by Petipa; a tribute to ballerina Galina Oulanova, featuring music by Greek composer Dimitri Arapis; a dance rendition of Astor Piazzolla’s «Last Tango» as well as extracts from Maurice Ravel’s «Bolero,» Mozart’s «Don Giovanni» and Pugni’s «Diana and Akteon» and Bejart’s «Bahti,» based on traditional Indian music. The upcoming gala also presents two surprise additions to the original dance program. Ruzimatov is scheduled to make two appearances, tonight and tomorrow, to interpret «Adagietto,» a work based on a choreography by Maurice Bejart to music by Mahler. Zakharova Star ballerina Zakharova is also scheduled to interpret «The Dying Swan,» a celebrated work based on a musical score by Saen Sans as choreographed by Michel Fokine and «Revelation,» a piece choreographed by Motoko Hirayama, based on the original music composed by John Williams for Steven Spielberg’s Second World War drama «Schindler’s List.» The soloists will be accompanied by a corps de ballet. Russian Ballet – Super Stars Gala: Tonight, tomorrow, Thursday and Friday at the Pallas Theater, 5 Voukourestiou, tel 210.3213100. For tickets, phone reservations: Elba: 210.6728080, Spectacles: 210.324.6888. For online purchases: www.ticketart.gr.