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My review in Thursday’s Chronicle:
“Two years ago, the former Los Angeles Times dance critic Lewis Segal wrote an article called “Five Things I Hate About Ballet,” slamming the majority of today’s ballet performances as “flatulent” and “trivial.”
He was widely trounced as an enemy of the art form, but anyone who knew Segal – and his encyclopedic command of ballet history – understood that his vitriol was in direct proportion to his deep love of classical dance. Tuesday night, watching the Kirov Ballet at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, I thought I knew just how he felt.
The Kirov is Russia’s bastion of 19th century classicism, the place where Petipa reinvented classical technique, the institution that birthed such rebels as Nijinsky and Balanchine. To see the 24 corps women in the “Shades” act of “La Bayadere” Tuesday was still to see an unparalleled demonstration of the ballet ideal of physical perfection, every leg held at the optimal angle of beauty in relation to the back, every chin turned for the precise degree of twist in the neck. The Kirov dancers’ feet were exquisitely arched to a one, their legs crisp and efficient as jackknives. Witnessing such a refinement of technique, you can’t help wishing it weren’t so purely mechanical, that it meant something.”
Click here for the full review.