Friday 29 September 2023

Dance: A defiant cry for peace

Kyiv City Ballet: A Tribute to Peace
director Ivan Kozlov
dancers Oksana Bondarenko, Vladyslav Bosenko, Mykyta Chudovsky, Stella Fedorovych, Kateryna Floria, Andrii Havryliuk, Larysa Hrytsai, Kristina Kadashevych, Mykhailo Shcherbakov, Yevhenii Sheremet, Artem Shoshyn
Peacock Theatre, London • 26-30.Sep.23

The Kyiv City Ballet were on a three-week tour in France when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, and they have been in exile ever since. Their aim is to share a message of peace through their performances, and this programme is a superb mix of greatest hits-style pieces, focussing on classical ballet but adding in touches of modern dance and folkloric tradition as well. It's a bit fragmented, but packed with wonderful performances.

The company has a bright, youthful energy as they leap and spin spectacularly through pieces that were largely conceived and choreographed by Russian ballet icons, which allows the entire show to boldly defy politics. The stage is bare, with projected backdrops and elaborate costumes that set the various scenes. Then in the middle there's an emotionally resonant visual tour of the company's beloved hometown.

Dance highlights include an expressionistic pas-de-deux to Mascagni in Servant of the Muse featuring Floria and Shoshin as a couple pushing and pulling in a beautiful, sexy struggle for power. The show's star, Floria also shines in a moving solo piece from Minkus' La Bayadere that's moody, impressively athletic and very emotional. And she's even more stunning in a gorgeous performance to Saint-Saens in The Dying Swan. Her full-on physicality is simply astonishing.

There's also a flourish of comedy as Greek gods Kadashevych and Sheremet try to one-up each other to the escalating beat of Sirtaki. There are also a couple of pieces styled after traditional Ukrainian dance, including a Chudovsky's solo and a gloriously engaging all-male dance battle-style finale. And there are nods to flamenco and Bollywood, Beethoven and Elgar, accompanied by a range of moods from playful to swoony. All of which makes this a thoroughly enjoyable sampler of this company's considerable talents.

For details, SADLER'S WELLS >  

photos by Andy Weekes, Tom Arber • 27.Sep.23

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