Kirov Ballet

June 12, 1999

Kirov Academy students Adrienne Canterna and Jae Yong Ohm dance the pas de deux in La Bayadere for the end of term performance.
Photo: Paolo Galli, Courtesy of The Kirov Academy

Kirov Academy of Ballet

Kirov Academy

Washington, D.C.

June 12, 1999

Reviewed by Judith Lynne Hanna

The Kirov Academy’s Juneconcert, “To Honor Agrippina Vaganova,” celebrated her 120th birthday regally. The Vaganova system for teaching classical ballet has helped to launch the careers of exceptional Kirov Ballet dancers.

Madame Yelena Vinogradova, deputy artistic director of KAB, has brought this rich tradition to the United States. Here, in Vaganova’s footsteps, the students at every level exhibited clean, strong technique, style, and expression, having learned the theory behind them. The delightful demonstrations of Ballet Class and Character Class, choreographed by KAB’s Nikolai Morozov and Vladimir Djouloukhadze, respectively, opened the performance. Following them were selections from great classical ballets and new choreography.

KAB has several students with exceptional talent. Smiling confidently, Adrienne Canterna, a 1998 Jackson International Ballet Competition junior gold medalist, displayed mature stage presence in executing complex moves effortlessly. After gracefully partnering her in the grand pas de deux from La Bayadère, Jae Yong Ohm soared solo. Recently awarded Dance Magazine and Princess Grace dance scholarships, Maria Bystrova sparkled in a variation from Don Quixote.

Younger students to watch for include Adrienne’s sister Ashley, who won much audience appreciation in Harlequinade. Chauncey Hildestad showed distinct verve in Flower Festival in Genzano. In the Blue Bird pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty, Laura O’Malley conveyed a sweet delicacy.

Vivian Nixon looked like a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Sunday, a solo gospel piece choreographed by KAB’s instructor Adrienne Dellas-Thornton. In the groovy Voyage, by Vladimir Anguelov, who regularly choreographs contemporary dances for KAB students, Nixon and her fine partner, Rory Hohenstein, exuded charming chemistry. Melissa Hough’s diverse skills showed in a variation from Raymonda, and then in a sensual solo, No One Knows Who I Am. KAB graduate Michele Wiles, currently with American Ballet Theatre, choreographed this piece.

The pas de trois from The Fairy Doll showcased poised and perky Lauren Strongin. Fernanda Oliveria’s Spanish dance displayed the passion of a mature gypsy woman. Graduate Rasta Thomas, winner of gold medals at the 1996 Varna and 1998 Jackson International Ballet Competitions, previewed Anguelov’s exciting El Torero, commissioned by the Vail International Dance Festival. In this ten-minute solo, the mesmerizing Thomas portrays simultaneously a bull, the bullfighter, and a woman who adores him but fears his death.

Madame Vaganova was truly honored in the four-hour megaconcert. It demonstrated why KAB’s graduates have received invitations to join professional companies across the nation and to be guests at international events.