Soviet dances paying homage to Russian authors. Plisetskaya keeps numbers fresh at unfolding Boston arts festival
Maya Plisetskaya, prima ballerina assoluta of the Bolshoi Ballet, brought the dance to ``Making Music Together,'' Boston's Soviet-American arts festival. She starred in ``The Lady With a Small Dog,'' which she choreographed to music by her husband, Rodion Shchedrin. And she was accompanied by a contingent of Bolshoi dancers. ``She has brought a show which is based on Russian authors more than on showing our performing talents,'' said Bolshoi soloist Olga Ivanova at a reception. ``This will give the audience a taste of what Russian art is all about.''
``The Lady With a Small Dog'' was a long pas de deux for the diminutive, red-haired Plisetskaya as Anna Sergeyevna and Boris Yefimov as Gurov. Yefimov, who has partnered Plisetskaya for seven years, described his job as ``keeping out of the ballerina's way,'' and added that every night Plisetskaya gives a completely new performance. The ballet evoked the Chekhov story beautifully with sets by Valery Levantal that added a cinematic richness.
A seaside scene in Yalta, 1899, evaporated to show Plisetskaya walking a dog on a boardwalk, the sea moving behind her. At times the couple would be surrounded by a tableau of high society figures - dancers artfully posed, dressed to the nines in white. The figures would vanish, leaving the couple isolated in their romance. Moscow scenes featured vignettes that melted in and out of a snowstorm to show how Gurov was pining for Anna. The music was all nostalgic chimes and quiet sighs.
The choreography was essentially a series of lifts, with Plisetskaya trailing her beautiful arms and showing off brilliantly pointed feet as she floated along. This was appropriate to the story, which, for all its romantic ups and downs, has a feeling of suspended animation.
Plisetskaya said her inspiration for choreography comes from the music, and that in this case the composer - her husband - had plenty to say about how to stage the ballet. The music seemed always to support the movement, however. It was a far more successful work than ``Carmen Suite,'' choreographed by Alberto Alonso.
Plisetskaya's ``Anna Karenina'' has its American premi`ere Wednesday night, and her ``The Seagull'' opens here April 2. She said she felt the opportunity to bring her repertoire, and Shchedrin's, to the United States was very special. But she has often worked outside of the Soviet Union, and is now artistic director of the National Ballet of Spain.
Unlike the Soviet musicians, the dancers will not work with American counterparts in the festival. But a dance exchange is simmering on the back burner for soloists Andris Liepa and Nina Ananiashvili. Invited last month to learn three Balanchine ballets and perform them with the New York City Ballet, they now hope Peter Martins, ballet master in chief, will go to Moscow to set Balanchine's ``Apollo'' on the Bolshoi.
Ananiashvili found Balanchine's work full of challenges.
``Even though he makes use of the classics in his ballets, you find movements in them that you rarely find in our ballets,'' she said through an interpreter.
``For instance, we have some big leaps, which you don't find at all in his ballets, but they dance very fast.'' Neither Liepa nor Ananiashvili realized how hard they had worked until they returned to Moscow.
``This period was absolutely unforgettable for us - 20 days in New York,'' said Ananiashvili. ``We hope we'll meet with them again. Now they're our friends and acquaintances. When things turn out well, you have a lot of positive feelings. It's sad when it ends.''
With Bolshoi performances running through April 2 in Boston, a possible visit by Peter Martins to Moscow, and the Boston-to-Moscow half of ``Making Music Together'' scheduled for 1989, the end is not yet in sight.
Our March 21 feature on Soviet dance in Boston's ``Making Music Together'' festival gave the wrong date for a coming performance. It should have said that ``The Seagull,'' with choreography by Maya Plisetskaya and music by her husband, Rodion Shchedrin, opens March 31, and a repeat performance is scheduled for April 2.