Gala Tribute Honoring the
Legendary Natalia Makarova
David H. Koch Theater
Artistic Producer: Natasha Gamolsky-Radinskaya
Production Coordinator: Dina Makaroff
In Conjunction with Youth America Grand Prix
Larissa Saveliev: Founder and Artistic Director
Gennadi Saveliev: Founder and President
Press: Jonathan Marder + Company
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 28, 2012
With an incredible lineup of tour de force ballet talent, the Youth America Grand Prix produced one final Gala, after its Final Rounds and 2012 Gala evenings at Koch Theater. Tonight’s Gala was for Natalia Makarova, Ballerina Assoluta, world-renowned ballerina, choreographer, teacher, and iconic legend, who has been partnered, in her prime, by Nureyev, Neumeier, Dowell, Bruhn, Nagy, and Baryshnikov. One of Ms. Makarova’s favorite partners was Kevin McKenzie, of American Ballet Theatre, where Mr. McKenzie has now served for two decades as Artistic Director. Ms. Makarova, through video interviews, and Mr. McKenzie were the lead narrators of tonight’s Gala. Ms. Makarova leaped to fame in England, defecting from Leningrad and the Kirov Ballet, in 1970, and she quickly joined American Ballet Theatre, a relationship that continues today.
Ms. Makarova debuted with ABT as Giselle, and tonight Natalia Osipova assumed this role to introduce Act II, with roaring accolades. Ms. Osipova was partnered by Ivan Vasiliev, her longtime real life and professional partner, as this duo recently leaped from the Bolshoi in Moscow to the Mikhailovsky Theatre St. Petersburg. In Coralli and Perrot’s, Giselle Pas de Deux, Ms. Osipova was lifted to a floating position by Mr. Vasiliev, and she swung her tightly glued legs from left to right with surreal airiness. Her partner executed astounding sideways leaps, in the effort to keep dancing past the four AM chimes, when the Wilis lose power. Also in Act II were Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes, of ABT (Ms. Vishneva also dances with Mariinsky Ballet, aka the Kirov, where Ms. Makarova began her training and career), in the “Bedroom Pas de Deux” of MacMillan’s Manon. This is a sensual, emotionally explosive ballet scene, and Ms. Vishneva and Mr. Gomes were in impassioned form. As each ballet unfolded, Ms. Makarova previewed the ballet in archived films of her own similar performances, a brilliant and informative approach. If there was not an archival film, there was a filmed or recorded narration to expand and enhance the moment.
In a rare treat for New York City Ballet fans, Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle danced a rousing Pas de Deux from Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Ms. Kowroski’s long limbs and campy attitude brought the house down. Ashley Bouder, also a City Ballet principal, danced a solo to Chopin on live piano, in Robbins’ Other Dances. Ms. Bouder danced with abandon and verve. Next in ACT II, were Alicia Amatriain and Friedemann Vogel from the Stuttgart, dancing the stunning and surreal “Mirror Pas de Deux” from Cranko’s Onegin. Of course the evening would not be complete without a scene from La Bayadère, which Ms. Makarova staged for ABT in 1980, after recreating the “Kingdom of the Shades” scene in 1974, all inspired by Petipa. At the last minute the “Pas d”Action” was switched to the “Shades” with Tamara Rojo, from the Royal Ballet, and Denis Matvienko, from the Mariinsky, plus Ekaterina Kondaurova, from the Mariinsky, and David Hallberg (a house favorite), from ABT and the Bolshoi. Each duo danced with elegance and reverence, as these excerpts include long, silky material that evokes Solor’s hypnotic dream.
In the earlier segment, called Act I, the Gala began, also, with an excerpt from Makarova’s La Bayadère, called “The Confrontation” (Gamzatti and Nikiya), danced by Ekaterina Kondaurova and Veronika Part, the latter from ABT. Catherine Hurlin of ABT’s JKO School danced the “Princess Florine Variation” from “Bluebird Pas de Deux” of Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty, one of Ms. Makarova’s earliest roles. Yuan Yuan Tan, of San Francisco Ballet, and Friedemann Vogel danced the “White Swan Pas de Deux” from Petipa’s Swan Lake, followed by Ms. Kondaurova, who sensually danced Forsythe’s electronic excerpt from In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. Tamara Rojo and Federico Bonelli, both of the Royal, were featured with live piano (Chopin) in Ashton’s effervescent Pas de Deux from A Month in the Country. With its fainting couch, I’d love to see this rare ballet, full length. Bigonzetti’s Serenata was danced with the sensational duo, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev, with black-red-green effects. The Act I closer had been Petipa’s “Black Swan Pas de Deux” from Swan Lake, a big crowd pleaser, with Ms. Kondaurova, Marcelo Gomes, of ABT, Ms. Rojo, and Sergei Polunin (a YAGP alumnus).
Kudos to all, and special kudos to Natalia Makarova, who finally appeared at the curtain and at an extra curtain call, with tonight’s cast, and on her own. The hall went wild to see her and offer their adoring gratitude.
Ekaterina Kondaurova and David Hallberg
in "La Bayadère - Kingdom of the Shades"
Courtesy of Liza Voll
Natalia Makarova at the Curtain
with the Cast from her Gala Tribute
Courtesy of Liza Voll
Natalia Makarova Greets Her Fans
Courtesy of Liza Voll