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Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 05:44 GMT 06:44 UK
Bolshoi standards slipping
Andrei Uvarov, photo by Mikhail Logvinov
Andrei Uvaraov is Don Quixote in the first programme
By BBC News Online's Keily Oakes

The name Bolshoi still raises an air of respect and expectation but if this performance is anything to go by, their crown is slipping.

The Stars of the Bolshoi Ballet have descended on London for a four-week run with a weekly changing programme.

There were tepid reviews for its first week, which featured excerpts from Swan Lake, Don Quixote and Giselle among others, but reviewers were confident that things would get better.

But the feeling was that the second programme at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, the overall feeling did not reach another level.

The first act opened with the choreographic composition Chopiniana, featuring the corps de ballet.

Ksenia Tsareva, photo by Mikhail Logvinov
Ksenia Tsareva dances in the opening programme
Well, not quite featuring, but on the stage they were. This was hardly a set piece to show off their talents.

Though the principal dancers carried off the performance with a certain poise, there appeared to be a lack of precision.

The music by Chopin was superbly played by the orchestra but there was no magic to draw you into the performance on the stage.

The second half was divertissement - six classic pieces - four of which were pas de deuxs.

The Sleeping Beauty, danced by Anna Antonicheva and Andrei Uvarov, was the first and set the tone for the rest of the evening.

The couple danced well separately, but together there was no chemistry, leading to a feeling of awkwardness.

Romeo and Juliet was the biggest disappointment, as it played out a scene which was totally unrecognisable as the tragic love story. There was a detached air coming from the principals.

The Prokofiev score, which at times is so emotive and rousing, came off as muted and low-key, played out on a stark, brightly-lit stage.

The performance as a whole had unevenness to it, with flashes of greatness combined with faults that jarred

The highlight of the show was the Narcissus solo from Gennady Yanin.

The athleticism with which it was performed left the audience breathless, and the lighting effect lent an eerie feel to the stage.

The brilliance of his choreography and execution overshadowed the rest of the show.

The evening was rounded off with a pretty average pas de deux performance of Le Corsaire.

The performance as a whole had unevenness to it, with flashes of greatness combined with jarring faults.

And the pieces were seamed together badly.

Because these were "the stars" of the Bolshoi company, each piece ended with applause, led by the dancers.

This became a formula for short bursts of dance, with the audience feeling compelled to clap.

As a showcase for the talents of the Bolshoi this was a disappointment and left me wishing for a full-length ballet to entrance me.

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