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A winter warmer from Siberia

PUBLISHED: 22:27 08 February 2018 | UPDATED: 22:27 08 February 2018

Snow Maiden, presented by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia et at the Regent Theatre, Ipswich on February 8.  Picture: RSBS

Snow Maiden, presented by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia et at the Regent Theatre, Ipswich on February 8. Picture: RSBS

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Review: Snow Maiden, Russian State Ballet of Siberia at the Regent Theatre, Ipswich

Snow Maiden is the Tchaikovsky ballet that isn’t a Tchaikovsky ballet. The production by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia uses pieces that the great composer of Swan Lake and the Nutcracker wrote as incidental music for a play by Alexander Ostrovsky based on a Russian folk tale, plus some excerpts from his symphonies.

The Snow Maiden of the title is the daughter of Father Frost, a virtual prisoner in her father’s wintry realm, with only snowflakes for companions. Escaping the forest, she meets the shepherd boy Lel, who leads her to the village where the rich merchant, Mizgir, who has only just chosen his bride from the assembled beauties of the village, immediately falls in love with her. Begging her mother, Spring, to give her a human heart, the Snow Maiden enjoys only a brief romantic encounter with Mizgir before the sun comes out and she literally melts in his arms. We knew it would end in tears.

The simple story is clearly told, and, for the most part the choreography by Sergei Bobrov and Mark Peretokin, a combination of classical steps and less conventional lifts, is effective, though the use of large sections from symphonies, sumptuous as they are (and beautifully played by the Krasnoyarsk Orchestra under the baton of Alexander Yudasin), means that there is some occasional padding.

Projections are used to ensure seamless changes of scene, and these worked well to show the transformation from winter to spring.

As for the dancing, the leads were all technically accomplished. As Snow Maiden herself Sayaka Takuda displayed a crystalline quality that matched her sparkly headdress. Her pleasing quicksilver lightness was well contrasted with elegant Elena Svinko’s jilted village maiden, Kupava. As Mizgir, Ivan Karnaukhov showed his prowess in the impressive lifts.

The ensemble came into their own in the jolly finale, as Kupava found love with the shepherd Lel (a bouyant Daniil Kostylev) and the whole village celebrated in a dance packed full of all the steps one associates with Russian dance. A real winter warmer.

JAMES HAYWARD

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