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State Street Ballet’s ‘Swan Lake’ Graces the Stage at Granada

It was intense when appropriate, but it also displayed uncharacteristic lightness and charm.

State Street Ballet inaugurated its first season at The Granada Theatre over the weekend with sumptuous and appealing Swan Lake.

This was a production that honored the choreography of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, to the music of Tchaikovsky, in an adaptation of the work by company artistic director Rodney Gustafson. It was appropriately intense when called for, but had an uncharacteristic lightness and charm throughout the three acts.

Much of the lightness and charm was embodied in the first act by Sergei Domrachev, a danseur noble with a larger-than-life stage presence. When this Russian-trained star is on stage, it becomes almost impossible not to watch him, even when he’s standing still. As the Court Jester, he lit up the stage.

The most vivid example of intensity was provided by another Russian-schooled performer, Bayaraa Badamsambuu. Born in Mongolia, he has chiseled features and flaring cheekbones, advantageous here in the role of Rothbart, the Evil Magician. Badamsambuu also has power in a dark role such as this one.

Both of these men trained with Russia’s Perm ballet organization, Domrachev with the Perm Ballet Academy and Badamsambuu with the Perm Choreographic Academy. The French may have invented the ballet, but the Russians have virtually owned it ever since.

Russians also took the two other leading roles, Odette/Odile, danced exquisitely by Victoria Luchkina, and Prince Siegfried, a dashing Yevgeni Anfinogenov. His first performance of this role was just this past August, at the Redlands Bowl.

Frank Paul Fella, conducting the orchestra, was quite dashing himself; he has a long, silver-white ponytail and plenty of stage presence, even from the pit.

With so many swans, peasants and dancers of the traditional divertissements, it seems almost unfair not to name them all. Space considerations prevent that, but mention of several standouts should be made.

The four cygnets performing their delightful number were Leslie Drake, Mio Kondo, Katie McDermott and Jennifer Rowe. Marina Fliagina was imposing as Prince Siegfried’s mother, the Queen. The adorable pages at the royal court were Leeza Domracheva and Afton Julia Gustafson.

Summer has its pleasures, but now that Swan Lake has graced the Granada stage, the fine arts season is well and truly launched. Next up for the State Street Ballet is The Nutcracker in December.

Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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