Finally, it came! The performance that I was marking off on my calendar for months - La Bayadère at the Mariinsky Theatre.
For so long, I have been fascinated by Maria Khoreva - a young rising star, a true prodigy mesmerising audiences since her early years at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg. She already took the world by storm with her beautiful photos and videos published online, photos that I myself looked at for hours.
La Bayadère has been my favourite ballet for a long time. I love how unique it is, how it stands out from the classics with its Ancient Indian setting and oriental influences. I love the beautiful costumes, the thematic music by Ludvig Minkus, the plot, and the ultimate message: love triumphs over all. When I learned that Maria is going to be dancing Nikiya, I ran to the computer and bought tickets immediately. Immediately, I visualized her ideally in this role as a gorgeous temple dancer, and even though I was already expecting perfection, I did not expect such a degree of beauty as I saw on Saturday.
Before my visit to St. Petersburg, I would listen to the music from La Bayadère, picture Nikiya's iconic entrance in the first act out of pure joy and excitement. And on July 13, I got to witness it live.
One must admit that going inside the Mariinsky Theatre is a special experience in itself. It has a special energy, a special feeling that you get when you step inside. Just like in La Bayadère, it's the temple of ballet, where young talent nourishes its potential and where ballet stars can showcase their excellence.
After jumping in my seat from happiness, the overture began to play. The ballet was about to begin!
When Masha came onto the stage, my heart simply stopped. That's all that I can say, because for a moment I stopped thinking, I stopped breathing. I just looked at the beauty before me and I could barely believe my eyes. Just from her entrance, you could tell that it would be a beautiful performance. Every step was measured, delicate, and perfect. When she stood before the audience, everyone erupted with applause for the unlimited beauty standing before them.
Then, she danced her first variation: the flute solo. I always thought that Svetlana Zakharova was the perfect Nikiya, that no one could match the way that she moved her arms.
But Masha brought something to the role that to me was completely new and completely magical. Every movement had its own meaning, its own message. She technically perfect - her feet are God-given talent, her legs are always turned out, her poses always ideal, nothing to change. And in that first flute solo, I saw a star shining before my eyes. She had a stage presence so ideal that it was so quiet in the audience, everyone was looking at her, amazed.
Then, she and Solor, portrayed by the wonderful Kimin Kim, danced their first pas de deux. It was breathtaking, a living flurry of emotion. I didn't need to think of the plot because I saw it before me: two people in love, mad with happiness but torn apart at the thought that their love had to be shrouded in secrecy.
I once read a quote by Xander Parish about Maria Khoreva: that she dances with her head as much as she dances with her body. During this performance, I could see how true this was. At one point, I was leaning so far on the edge of my seat that I almost fell because I couldn't believe that every one of Masha's movements was so perfect. Her arms, her back, her head, everything was in the right place, everything was dancing. I would lean over to my mother every once in a while just to whisper to her that I can't believe what I am watching, that she is dancing like a true prima ballerina.
Maria was an impeccable Nikiya. She maintained her character throughout the entire ballet, and every inch of her was creating art. I loved her solos, I loved her pas de deux's with Kimin, I loved every single moment that she was on stage. Every time that she entered my heart made a little jump. Often, when you watch videos of a dancer, you don't know what to expect live. Will she really be as amazing as she is on these photos? But with Masha, nothing disappoints your fantasy. She is truly a prodigy, and I can't even imagine what an incredible career lies before her. I think Nikiya, however, is "her role" - a role that she was born to dance.
Kimin Kim was also magnificent. He is known as a technical legend, and that really shines through on the stage. Every single time he jumps, it's like he's flying - the audience went wild with every one of his movements. He is a true virtuoso, and he and Masha were a wonderful match. He was the fierce, technical warrior, and she was the ideal, delicate dancer. It was truly a gift for the eyes.
Highlights of the performance:
- Nikiya's Entrance, Act I
- Nikiya in the first act: Flute Solo, Pas de Deux with Solor, Confrontation with Gamzatti, Dance with Konstantin Zverev
- Gamzatti/Solor's Variations in Act II - magnificent!
- Act II Dances: Scarf Dance, Dance with Parrots, Golden Idol
- Act II: Nikiya's Death Variation (her dance, when she receives the flowers, when she falls to the ground). I think this moment was a huge artistic step for Masha, I saw her do the best acting I have ever seen with a young dancer - it's almost like in Act II, she developed a new side of herself.
- Act III: Entrance of the Shades, absolutely breathtaking music and choreography
- Act III: Trio of Shades Variations
- Act III: Coda (incredible fast diagonals for Masha!!!) and Nikiya/Solor's first meeting, when they are finally reunited in the Kingdom of the Shades. Here, there was a whole new emotional level and a real connection between Masha and Kimin.
I loved the contrast between the first two acts, which were full of variety and colors, and the last act, all in white with a whole different message and attitude - the contrast between Nikiya when she is first shown as an innocent girl in love, and in the last act, when she is already corrupted by love and destroyed. Beautiful emotional performance by Masha.
The performance truly left the audience speechless. I have never seen so much applause - the curtains had to be closed and opened again and again countless times, with the whole theatre giving a standing ovation and constant cheers. It moved me to tears, and I was really left with no words but only full of emotions and admiration.
It was a true masterpiece, and I couldn't be more amazed by the beautiful and ideal performance by Masha - in a technical, artistic, and emotional sense - and by Kimin. She is definitely going to change the world of dance with her beauty! Bravo!!!!!
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