The revival by Mikhailovsky Ballet of Vakhtang Chabukiani’s, Laurencia aroused great interest at its premiere in London. Mikhail Messerer’s production, beautifully designed by Vadim Ryndin, was an impressive tribute to the era of heroic Soviet dance and Chabukiani's legendary virtuosity found an apt modern exponent in Denis Matvienko whose thrilling technique, easy charm and Rottweiler attack were used to full effect in the character of Frondoso.
As Laurencia, Irina Perren consolidated her status as the company’s star ballerina. In addition to an engaging presence and accomplished acting, her generous style is evident in glorious jetés, handsome extensions and quality finish to every movement. In the smaller roles Oksana Bondareva, has a prime acting role as the ravished Jacinta while Sabina Yapparova as Pascuala dances with the technical precision and coquettish charm that has been her trademark this season. She had a chance to star in Cipollino, choreographed by Genrikh Mayorov – another first for London. It is an enchanting story of vegetable folk with witty, brightly coloured designs and makes a welcome addition to the poorly represented genre of children’s ballets.
Laurencia is the story of the popular uprising in the village of Fuente Ovejuna immortalised by playwright Lope de Vega. However the ballet has little of the dark passions of the play and only marginally engages with the injustice and cruelty. Set to a rather prosaic score by Alexander Krein, it tends rather to serve as a good excuse for lively Spanish dance performed by a spirited corps de ballet. However the integrity of Messerer’s production of this 1939 classic and the quality of the dancing made this a worthwhile revival. The Mikhailovsky Theatre has a long and distinguished history. With the surprising appointment of Nacho Duato as artistic director, the dance world waits to see what direction it will take.