Date: April 11, 2013
Location: Bucharest National Opera House, Bucharest.
Choreography by Mihai Babuşka, after Marius Petipa
Romanian National Ballet
Romanian National Opera (orchestra)
The first brick for the Bucharest National Opera House, which currently houses Romania’s national ballet company, was laid in the early 50s. By then, however, Romania’s ballet foundation has been set. In 1929, Vera Karalli, formerly of Ballets Russes, took over as ballet mistress and instilled its free-flowing vocabulary into Romania. La Bayadere is not a product of Ballets Russes, but the dancing reveals some of those roots. Bianca Fota seemed occasionally troubled by the precise steps of Nikiya, especially the difficult pique turns and multiple pirouettes. But her dancing was sensual and free-flowing, and when she arched back, as if to receive the sky, her body would curve like a silk scarf flying in mid-air. Gigel Ungureanu’s steps were confident and brisk, but neither the lascivious body curvatures of Fota nor the sweet smiles of Mihaela Soare’s Gamzatti seemed to engage him dramatically. In general, the ballerinas outshined the male dancers, as is the case for Romania’s another prized asset: gymnastics. The showcase triplets executed with good rhythm and smooth finish, but one wonders why the entire country of Romania, with its endless streams of fine gymnastic Olympians, had to rely on a Japanese trio of Rin Okuno, Sena Hidaka and Maki Shirase, good and dependable as they may be, to stage a ballet as quotidian as La Bayadere.