In globalized ballet, dancers travel the world and flit from company to company, but national styles remain -- at least in Russian ballet. Friday night's sold-out Ballet Stars of Moscow performance at the Montgomery County College Performing Arts Center proved that commanding presentation and classical virtuosity still form the foundation of Russian ballet.
The troupe of dancers from Moscow-based companies fared best in choreography by Marius Petipa, the father of Russian imperial ballet. In the "Rose Adagio" from "Sleeping Beauty," Natalia Krapivina performed the many balancing acts with her four suitors: Ilgiz Galimullin, Mikhail Bessmertnov, Georgy Smilevfky and Andre Loparev. In her pristine pink tutu, sitting in overhead lifts or perched en pointe in the closing attitude sequence, she looked primed for either a ballet textbook photo or a birthday cake.
In "Don Quixote Grand Pas," Krapivina and Smilevfky returned with daring one-armed lifts, bravura jumps and ferocious turns. The intensity of all of the men threatened at times to lead each beyond the stage's physical limits. The appearances of the light-footed Galimullin in Petipa's "La Esmeralda" and as Pan in an excerpt from Leonid Lavrovsky's "Walpurgis Nacht" were particularly impressive.
While the men had better choreographic vehicles for their talents, the women struggled in less classical work. In the highly stylized Romantic ballet "Pas de Quatre," the sharpness of Russian style limited the dancers to mere caricatures of the 19th-century stars for whom the work was created.
The marathon-style performance (different pieces appeared with no pause between music) also included "Spring Waters" by Asaf Messerer; "Russian Dance," a solo by Yuri Grigorovich; "Albinoni Adagio," a contemporary pas de deux; and "Giselle's" Act 2 pas de deux.
-- Clare Croft