By Naomi Gold
They almost didn’t make it. Just hours after Ukraine’s National Ballet departed their homeland, the airport went into lockdown mode. Luckily for us however, Ukraine’s dancing gods cleared the runway for their finest dancers and Montreal’s 137-year wait for La Bayadère was finally over. Their beyond breathtaking Bayadère was indeed a historic, tour-de-force production. Hyperbole is not redundant here.
Legendary ballerina Natalia Makarova, the troupe’s stage director, along with artistic director Aniko Rekhviashvili led the Kyiv Ballet in delivering an absolutely awesome production of near-perfection. Whatever preconceived notions spectators had, going in to Salle-Wilfrid Pelletier, nothing could have prepared them for the majestic grandiosity and kaleidoscopic beauty of this truly larger-than-life Bayadère.
Encompassing the finest in classical dance, this ballet features a score by Ludwig Minkus, that intermittently evokes the melodious ingenuity of Tchaikovsky. Maestro Mykola Dyadyura, who accompanied the troupe from Ukraine, ably conducted the Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal Orchestra. Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa in 1877, La Bayadère tells the tale of Nikiya, an Indian temple dancer, and her ill-fated romance with the warrior, Solor.
Dancing the principal role with great élan, grace and agility, prima ballerina Olga Golytsia was poised to penultimate perfection. She evinced a paradoxical combination of dainty, diminutive elegance with brute Herculean strength. Indeed, a quick scan of the corps de ballet revealed a curious phenomenon peculiar to the ballet world’s greatest. These dancers with their deceptively delicate, skeletal bodies pack a massive horsepower punch of muscular strength and endurance.
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal is in the midst of a triumphant triumvirate of shows this season at Place des Arts. Having just bade a reluctant farewell to Ukraine’s National Ballet, GBC is gearing up to dance Peter Quanz’s Rodin/Claudel. This work explores the personal and professional relationship between French sculptors Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel. It premières on Thursday, March 13th and runs for six nights on two weekends, plus one matinée on Saturday, March 22nd. Then, in early April, GBC welcomes a visiting troupe, this time from Texas. The Houston Ballet will present Marie Antoinette, choreographed by Stanton Welch. Another lavish production, with dreamy sets and costumes designed by Canadian Kandis Cook, this ballet traces the life – and death – of France’s iconic queen. Music is by Soviet Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. The show débuts on Wednesday, April 9th, runs for four consecutive nights and features a matinée on Saturday, April 12th. Ticket prices begin at $53 for each production; www.laplacedesarts.com or call PdA’s box office @(514) 842-2112