Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

St Petersburg Ballet Theatre

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Scene from Swan Lake

This comment should be written in Russian, or at least in French - such was the feeling engendered by an evening with the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre. The first two nights are extracts from their repertoire of this tour- A Gala Concert with Act 1 from Giselle, Act 2 with 'snippets' from Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Harlequinade, Raymonda and Don Quixote, and Act 3 from La Paquita. The remaining four nights of the visit are devoted to Swan Lake. And the sumptuous programme includes a DVD with a different series of extracts, featuring the Principal Ballerina, Irina Kolesnikova.

The scenery for the first act, ostensibly a gloomy chuchyard, with several gravestones, was a silvery grey, but visibly enhanced by the vigour and enthusiasm of the Conductor Vadim Nikitin with his orchestra sadly unseen, but certainly heard. The dancers, an extensive corps de ballet, took a little time to light up, but the principals in this extract from Giselle, danced gently through the cemetary, picking up and presenting bouqets of lilies.

The second Act was much more thrilling, presenting a marble hall with pillars and arches, perhaps a cathedral of dance, and the five extracts each excited and vividly stimulated the atmosphere, by the wonderful timing, the extraordinary jetés, and the beautifully coloured costumes complementing each other in a delightful manner. Perhaps the extract from Swan Lake, to be shown in full for the rest of the visit, truly reflected the spirit of this company, with Irina Kolesnikova and Oleg Kharyutkin dancing together as a unity, and separately demonstrating their timing, energy and skills in a black and white composition.

This set the scene for the Harlequinade to enjoy themselves and please the audience, while the Spanish Raymonda provided a riotous swirl of colour.

The final act, taking place on a lavish balcony allowed scope for the experienced pas de deux interspersed with the corps de ballet and the pas de trois to wind up an evening of colour, music dance and emotion.

A balletomane would no doubt be able to put this variety of extracts into context, but for the tyro, it offered a warm picture of the ballet scene, the skills demonstrated to perfection and the music carrying the dancers forward offering all the opportunities they needeed to demonstrate their skills.

Touring to Northampton (21-26 Jan), Southend (30 Jan - 3 Feb), Norwich (4-9 Feb), Scarborough (10 Feb) and Edinburgh Festival Theatre (14th Feb)

Reviewer: Philip Seager