Title: Diana Vishneva: Beauty In Motion
Author: Victoria Looseleaf
Date: June 01, 2008
Publisher: Pointe Magazine
Dubbed “Beauty in Motion” by Vogue magazine last year, Kirov Ballet superstar Diana Vishneva, 31, is at the height of her powers and headlining in a program of the same name. The showcase bowed at the Orange County Performing Artscenter in Costa Mesa, CA, in February with a challenging trio of premières custom-made for Vishneva’s extraordinary talents.
The concert featured Vishneva and seven guest dancers in works by Bolshoi Artistic Director Alexei Ratmansky, MOMIX founder Moses Pendleton and Dwight Rhoden of Complexions Contemporary Ballet—a far cry from the predictable mixed bag of classics found on the gala circuit. By turns daring and dazzling, superhuman and sassy, and, above all, emotional to the core, Vishneva put herself on the line, succeeding in giving a 21st-century spin to the glorious art of ballet.
To the uninitiated, Arnold Schoenberg’s atonal 1912 Pierrot Lunaire might seem a daunting prospect, musically and otherwise. The 21-poem song cycle, performed live (in German) by Kirov Opera mezzo-soprano Elena Sommer, served as the starting point for Ratmansky, whose abstract, occasionally explosive choreography featured the ballerina and three males (Igor Kolb, Mikhail Lobukhin and Alexander Sergeev) in a panoply of roles signified by costume and hat changes. Here was Vishneva as a moonstruck Pierrot, with a nod to Columbine, accompanied by loose-limbed commedia dell’arte clowns, who, when breaking character, also offered virtuosic pirouettes—notably those of Kolb. Complex and somewhat disjointed, the work nevertheless proved engaging in its surprising mix of humor, gloom and brilliantly executed steps.
Pendleton’s decidedly athletic anti-balleticism and clever use of props gave Vishneva a marvelous forum to explore her inner child, her narcissistic self and, finally, a spiritual side in his F.L.O.W. (For Love of Women). Set to recorded music by zerO One, Lisa Gerrard and Deva Premal, the three-movement opus began with a black-light extravaganza, where disembodied limbs formed quirky shapes, including a swan. Hello, Odette/Odile. Part two featured Vishneva lolling on a mirrored platform, her ever-changing positions generating magnificent, enticing illusions. The finale had the dancer sporting a large, hooplike headdress of floor-length beads. Whirling Dervish–like, Vishneva mesmerized in this exquisite trance dance, her energy a pipeline to an altered state for performer and audience alike.
Rhoden’s high-octane sextet, Three Point Turn, danced to percussion played live by composer David Rozenblatt with Benny Koonyevsky, sizzled, thanks also to the great artistry of guest Desmond Richardson, co-artistic director of Complexions. His gasp-worthy partnering of Vishneva (their first joint outing) teemed with muscular lifts and torso-twisting entanglements in this intense piece about relationships. Lobukhin and Ekaterina Ivannikova, and Sergeev and Maria Shevyakova completed the rapturously frenzied scenario.
While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, Vishneva’s got it—and courage in spades. Tutus and tiaras not required.