Moiseyev Dance Company February 16, 2008
By Glen Creason
I had heard good things about the Moiseyev Dance Company and their legendary concerts but it really was like being told the Grand Canyon is a nice bit of scenery. You really need to pull out all the positive adjectives in Dr. Roget’s thesaurus to describe this phenomenal experience but spectacular or magnificent or incredible come to mind. In the fifteen years of covering shows at the great hall I can’t recall anything with this kind of visceral excitement and depth of artistry. The dancers represent the crème de la crème and the rigorous training makes demands that only a select few can satisfy. Not only are the dances dazzling masterpieces of choreography but the physical demands and athleticism required by the men and women elevate the show into something otherworldly in its execution and effect on an audience. Each and every number in the full evening of dance gave rise to explosive applause that erupted from the last row in the upper balcony, through the mezzanine to the orchestra and to every box surrounding the stage.
The evening began with a sweet and sentimental video tribute to the founder Igor Moiseyev who passed in 2007 after over seventy years of making this company one of the greatest in the world. The applause was heartfelt and huge but when the curtain opened to a dark stage and the footlights came up, the clapping turned to shouts of joyful awe. The entire troupe came out to greet the packed house in a dazzling display of colorful costumes, chief hues being the Russian favorites: red, black, white and gold. The utterly spectacular opening piece was called “Russian Dance Summer” beginning with an innocent courtship then flowing into what seemed like an entire village of country folk encouraging the romance. As was the case for the rest of the evening, the costume design was superb, the dancing amazing and the obvious joy in the performance by the performers was completely mesmerizing. Each segment in this show saluted certain people and their folk dances from Mother Russia. The nomadic Kalmuks and their kinship with the animals near the Volga River were demonstrated by a most electrifying, dance accompanied by an accordion and featuring a tremble from the intense Ramil Mekhdiev that was absolutely wonderful. The good-natured Tartars were next, expressed by the coquettish and graceful dancing of the Olgas Volina and Chernasov. The “Polyanka” or summer gathering of young people was featured in what can only be described as pure exuberance. The athleticism of the dancers certainly exceeded anything we see on any sporting court, diamond or pitch. Moldavia was the last Russian outpost saluted in the first half, highlighted by girls in babushkas doing “zhok” or beautiful and stately dances that morphed into a wild 78-rpm romp to the finish. The first half closed with a visit to Greece and a supremely athletic and demanding dance to what we know as the Zorba theme.
The second half maintained this unreal level of energy and joyful expression of the soul of the Russian people. “Yablotchko” once more allowed the gents of Moiseyev to strut their stuff as showing the hardships of the lives of sailors and their hopeful resolve to continue. The dance was demanding and full of military precision, as twenty-five men seemed to move as one. The most colorful and interesting piece for color alone was “Gypsies” that offered the ladies a chance to shine whirling in their fantastic flowing skirts. A spirited “Dance of Argentinean Cowboys” was almost flamenco with just three men in black filling the hall with bravado and the percussion of their flashing boots. “Manahan National Play Two Boys in a Fight” was a terrific, humorous interlude that got the kids in the hall into frenzy when the fighting tykes turned out to be one man. The show closed with the most balletic and elaborate number of all, “The Polovetsian Dances” which was exotic, dramatic and just spectacular in its scope and execution. When the show finished and the entire ensemble came forward to accept adulation the waves of applause seemed to reach all the way to the motherland of the great Moiseyev himself.