The Russian National Ballet Down Under … A Mediocre Performance at Best

The Russian Ballet is the rumoured to be one of the most elite ballet companies a dancer can dream of getting into. I’m not sure how true this is and with the performance I saw of The Russian National Ballet touring in Melbourne a couple of nights ago, I have my doubts.

Before I get into the negative of the performance I would like to say bravo to those who performed and I’m sure traveling across the globe to perform must be difficult, not to mention the level of talent one has to have to do the things some of those dancers can do. The principle lead dancers were outstanding, the amount of turn sequences and leaps they were performing was incredible and simply beautiful. A lot of the lead dances were mesmerising.

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Unfortunately the ensemble dancers were not extraordinary, rather seemed to lack the energy or precision and, in the end, made for a poor performance to watch.

Last year the Russian Ballet toured Australia showcasing Swan Lake; having mixed reviews with some commenting the lack of excitement, passion and energy of the dancers and others raving about how much they loved it. I suppose this is similar for many travelling performances, with some believing it was truly amazing and simply enjoying the dancing, whereas others look more critically or, sometimes, have more experience and don’t view the performance up to standard as others they have seen. Either way, my experience and opinion of the performance I watched the other night are my own and simply subjective.

I went in expecting the absolute best, after all you always here of the standard of the Russian Ballet and how only the best of the best perform for such an elite company, unfortunately this was not the case. The performance was mediocre at best. I found that I spent a lot of the time noticing many mistakes by the dancers, including numerous stumbles, they were all un-synchronised and none seemed to be able to get in a straight line.

New York City Ballet's 2013 performance of *The Nutcracker*. Vanity Fair

It was especially noticeable in the dance of the snowflakes, where the dancers are in four lines and are (supposedly) dancing in sync and in these lines, though this didn’t happen. It ended up that the lines were no where near straight and none of the dancers were in sync. I understand that this must be such a difficult way to dance but I would assume that for a company to tour this internationally, the dancers would be able to do this. It appeared very messy and unrehearsed.

At first, I thought it was only really me picking up on these things, I have dancing experience (not professional or anything) and have seen a couple of performances by the Australian Ballet, but at interval my friends said they had noticed all the same things and this was the first time one had been to the ballet. It was disappointing.

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To make it worse, the second act did not make any sense at all, we were completely lost. After a bit of trying to work out what was going, I gave up and just sat back to enjoy the principle dancers performing.

Of course, the venue did not help. It was at the Regent Theatre, if you haven’t been I would definitely recommend it for theatre performances, not ballet. The view was not great and for dancing I find that I like to be able to see the dancers feet and have a good view of the stage, though it was hard to see it, you had to keep moving to see. I have seen a few musicals at the Regent and have enjoyed them all and never found need to complain about the view, but I wasn’t looking as much at their feet as for the ballet. I think the Arts Centre in Melbourne is much more suited, the seats seem to be on more of an incline which allows for a much better view.

Travel Victoria

For me, the performance was disappointing, I thought it was messy and not well done at all. It seemed like some of the dancers didn’t see the point of putting their all into it or hadn’t bothers rehearsing. Though there were some highlights. The costumes were beautiful, simple and moved gracefully and with the dancer, I loved the romantic tutus and the movement of them.

Like I said, I rather enjoyed the principle dancers, they were fantastic. And, of course, I will continue going to the ballet and will look forward to going to the Russian Ballet in Russia one day, this experience won’t change my love for it. Though it has changed my view on the high pedestal that I put Russian Ballet on, I would much prefer going to any of the performances of the Australian Ballet again.

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(Images: The Nutcracker dancing via sydney.com, the dance of the snowflakes performed by New York City Ballet via Vanity Fair, The Russian National Ballet via Ticketmaster, The Regent Theatre Melbourne via Travel Victoria)

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