Diana Vishneva: Dialogues
Diana Vishneva has returned to City Center with Dialogues, a new project from the Mariinsky Theatre, Diana Vishneva Foundation and Ardani Artists, the team that brought us Vishneva’s Beauty in Motion in 2008.
The evening opened with Martha Graham’s Errand into the Maze, created in 1947, it was a signature work of Ms. Graham and like one of many, she danced the title role. I was unsure how Ms. Vishneva would do in such a noted ballet, especially a ballet whose vocabulary tends problematic for classically trained dancers.
Ms. Vishneva known for her effortless technique and demanding on-stage presence graduated the Agrippina Vaganova Academie of Russian Ballet in St. Petersburg and won the Gold Medal and Grand Prix of The International Ballet Competition in Lausanne. The same year she graduated, 1995, she became a member of the Mariinsky Ballet Company and was promoted to principal dancer in 1996. Since 2005 she has been a guest principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre in New York.
Errand into the Maze, performed to the music of Gian-Carlo Menotti with costumes by Graham and set created by Isamu Noguchi was inspired by the myth of Ariadne and the Minotaur. Walter Terry wrote in The New York Herald Tribune (1947) that “…the demon is fear, the deity is courage. Aspects of the evil and the good, then, in humankind, are given substance for us to regard in that pantheon which is Miss Graham’s theatre of dance”.
Ms. Vishneva portrayed an Ariadne that is emotional, ever questioning and in doing so perfectly captures the embodiment of Graham. Ms.Vishneva transformed into a woman of intense emotion and who struggles with her inner terror, evidenced with shudders and rapid quick contractions of the upper body. Pushing aside her fear, she finds her inner strength and does battle with the Minotaur.
Abdiel Jacobsen as the Minotaur was superb. With his arms constrained by a yoke, he dominates Ms.Vishneva , he grabbs and swings her, forcing her to the floor begins kicking her repeatedly in her midsection. He is ferocious in his intensity and gave a performace that was more than a little sexually charged. He was a thrill!
Ms. Vishneva, wrapped in the psychological struggle of her inner self, gave all the ballet requires. She was dauntless in her approach of the Graham technique. She became Ariadne, not acting it, seeming to channel Martha Graham in every movement and gesture. It was inspiring to see Graham danced so well and wonderful to see her work on a grand stage. Bravo!
Due to an injury incurred by Thiago Bordin, the John Neumeier ballet, Dialogues was replaced by Mauro Bigonzetti’s Vertigo. Replacing Mr. Bordin was Marcelo Gomes and he was mysterious and fascinating. He pushes and pulls Ms. Vishneva off-center and she flows from one movement to another. The duet, sensual and full, was a fest for the eyes.
The last offering was “Subject to Change” by Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon to music of Schubert and Mahler. This is one of the most exciting pieces of choreography I have seen this year. The curtain opens to a bare stage, in the center a rolled carpet, four men in black suits come on and with their feet start to unroll it. It expands to be a large red carpet and Andrey Merkuriev (principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet) emerges shirtless from the darkness, stepping past the four men and executes Grand Jeté to the floor, the audience is stunned by his quickness and daring.
Ms. Vishneva then steps to the center of the carpet, she is captivating, and our eyes follow her as if hypnotized. Mr. Merkuriev and Ms. Vishneva flow in and out of duets and solos that possess a serious playfulness. The four men reappear,(Anton Pimonov, Alexei Nedviga, Ilya Petrovand Fedor Murashov of the Mariinsky Ballet) shouting in Russia as the move furiously in the background. They are frightening! Each completing solos of dazzling turns and swift jumps.
Subject to Change, choreographed during a crisis in the life of Mr. Lightfoot and Ms. Leon is emotional charged and vibrant. Ms. Vishneva gave it her all, pouring her heart and soul into the work. It was amazing!