I reviewed Wednesday night’s performance of the Kirov Ballet for the SF Chronicle:

“It was a wondrous sight Wednesday night: Diana Vishneva en pointe, her other leg held artfully behind her, the whole perfect sculpture twirling beneath the hand of first one suitor, then another. She seemed incapable of wavering; though turning, she became the still point around which the rest of the world revolved. It was the kind of special effect to make even a seasoned ballet lover say “Ah! So that’s what that moment can be.”

Fortunately for ticket holders to performances by other casts, the Kirov Ballet’s “The Sleeping Beauty,” presented by UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances through Sunday, isn’t dependent on the star power of one internationally ascendant ballerina. Running three hours and 40 minutes, this is an Imperial Russian feast to slowly savor (and you’ll want to mill about during each of three intermissions to aid digestion). After all, this 1890 ballet — the first collaboration between Tchaikovsky and the French-born ballet master Marius Petipa — originated at the Kirov, and the company has been an authoritative caretaker ever since.

The latest installment of that legacy is a sumptuous and painstaking 1999 “reconstruction,” but that’s not the production on view during the current U.S. tour. Instead the company has brought Konstantin Sergeyev’s dramatically thin, redeemingly charming 1952 staging. “The Sleeping Beauty” can be a thematically rich experience, a powerful allegory of mature love. Sergeyev’s version is more of a hoot.”

For the full review (it’s a short one, alas), click here.

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