Russian State Ballet of Siberia La Fille

Charming ballet brings the warmth of summer to a cold winter’s night

James Hayward
Saturday, February 9, 2013
11.25 AM

La Fille Mal Gardee, Russian State Ballet of Siberia, Regent Theatre, Ipswich, Thursday, February 7

The Russian ballet company from Krasnoyarsk in Siberia are now a regular fixture at the Regent, and their delightful production of La Fille Mal Gardee – a summer ballet if ever there was one –, its first showing in Ipswich, provides a real mid-winter treat.

One of the oldest and sunniest of ballets, and set to a jolly score by Hertel, it’s a light-hearted bucolic frolic with plenty of humour and lots of energetic dancing. And it has the advantage of an easy to follow story.

We are in an 18th century French village, and Widow Simone is determined that her wayward daughter Lise should marry Alain, the son of the wealthy local squire. Sadly, not only is Alain two bales short of a haystack but pretty Lise much prefers the charms of local farmer, Colas. Eventually, the Widow’s plans are thwarted, and true love wins the day.

Elena Pogorelaya and Mikhail Khushutin as Lise and Colas made a charming lead couple, he especially spring-heeled in his solos, and Denis Pogorely flung himself around the stage with eccentric abandon as the simpleton Alain.

Anastasia Koreshnikova, gave a masterclass in character dancing as Widow Simone, a role usually played by a male dancer in drag. The comedy was broad, but she made sure that the story-telling didn’t get lost in all the slapstick, She also carried off an excellent clog dance, no mean feat considering many in the audience will have been familiar with the version seen in Frederick Ashton’s Royal Ballet production – to different music and with louder clogs.

The choreography, by Mark Peretokin based the original stagings by John Daubernal and Alexander Gorsky, contains makes many technical demands and both the soloists and the corps de ballet rose to the occasion, dancing with musicality and precision. Fetching sets and costumes added to the overall charm, and the sizeable orchestra played with pleasing élan under the baton of Alexander Yudasin.

A performance of another great comic ballet, Coppelia, follows tonight (Friday) and there are two performances of the most famous of all tragic ballets, Swan Lake, with its fabulous Tchaikovsky score, tomorrow (Saturday). Catch one if you can.

JAMES HAYWARD