Kirov Academy of Ballet

December 15, 2000

Young Kirov Academy dancers made a strong showing in Angelina Armeiskaya?s Waltz Impromptu.
Phot by Paolo Galli, courtesy The Kirov Academy

Kirov Academy of Ballet U.S.

KAB Theater
Washington, D.C.

December 15, 2000

Reviewed by Judith Lynne Hanna

The rich Vaganova teaching tradition, a hallmark of Russia’s Kirov Ballet, continues to shape youngsters at Washington D.C.’s 10-year-old Kirov Academy. That was where Madame Yelena Vinogradova, KAB’s guiding light, anxiously introduced the semi-annual winter performance recently. “We have so many new students,” she said, “and only two and a half months to prepare.” But her charges at every level exhibited clean, strong technique, style, and expression.

The varied program featured both new and venerable classical pieces, excerpted from Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadère, Le Corsaire, Giselle, The Nutcracker, Petipa’s La Vestale (An Na Jung was a delicate, doll-like figure in blue), and Gorsky’s The Little Humpbacked Horse, along with modern/jazz choreography, and Russian dances. Exquisite costumes dazzled the eye.

Nine younger students in Angelina Armeiskaya’s classical concert opener, Waltz Impromptu, smiled confidently and exuded strong stage presence. An untied toe shoe did not seem to ruffle one youngster’s professional demeanor. Dancers in the Little Swans variation from Swan Lake performed charmingly in unison, with their heads tilted appropriately.

KAB students have taken gold and other medals at international ballet competitions. KAB’s concert featured recent Varna winner Ashley Canterna, who follows in the footsteps of her KAB-trained sister Adrienne, a gold medalist at Jackson who will soon join the Washington Ballet. Ashley showed her mettle in Cher Pinkham’s Via Dolorosa with contrasting lyrical and strong movement qualities and effortless pyrotechnics.

Danny Tidwell is certainly a dancer on the rise, perhaps a successor to KAB alumnus and multiple award-winner Rasta Thomas. A variation from Le Corsaire let Tidwell’s flexibility and power shine. His sensuality dominated Body Language, performed to the music of Queen. (Surprise! Adrienne Canterna choreographed this exciting work.) KAB does not offer training in choreography as modern dance programs often do. “Choreographers have an inborn talent that involves vision and imagination, a God-given gift,” Vinogradova told me in a 1998 interview. But like any budding choreographer, Caterna still needs help in refining her work.

Also especially noteworthy among the dancers was Dallas Blagg in A Contemporary Piece, choreographed by Chris Du Pre to the rock group Soul Coughing. Clad in white suit and equipped with a black cane, Blagg displayed attack and fluid body articulations that would fit in well with a Fosse Broadway show.

As one of the world’s elite ballet academies, KAB performances warrant attention. The school trains students in a tradition that has produced such legendary figures as Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, George Balanchine, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Natalia Makarova. Over its ten-year existence, the school has produced ballet competition winners and placed its graduates in major companies worldwide.