Tour de Force III at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts was subtitled, a Dance Spectacular. In effect, the event brought many exceptional talents together, as is Ardani Artists’ custom, and it was also Sergei Polunin’s debut on America’s West Coast, something for Californians to get excited about. He was dancing with Natalia Osipova in Silent Echo, the piece created for them by Russell Maliphant which was first performed at Sadlers’ Wells last June.
Maxim Petrov’s Le Divertissement du Roi was to have featured Diana Vishneva who was injured. She was replaced by Mariinsky Ballet Soloist Philipp Stepin. The ballet is a neoclassical fantasy on a baroque theme, musing on the beginnings of ballet in the Louvre and Versailles.
The ballet was created last year and first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre as a part of a Creative Workshop for Young Choreographers. The music is by Jean-Philippe Rameau, and the designs make use of sketches by Jean Berain for productions at the Royal Academy of Music in Paris (1679-1697) and by Lodovico Burnacini for Antonio Cesti’s opera Il pomo d’oro (Vienna, 1667)
Performed by Philipp Stepin as The King and Soslan Kulaev as Master of Ceremonies, with Andrei Arseniev, Vasily Tkachenko, Denis Zainetdinov and Yevgeny Konovalov.
Tristesse is a piece by Marcelo Gomes, which he created under Ardani Artists’ Kings of Dance umbrella, and was first performed in 2014 at the Mikhailovsky Theatre.
It depicts male friendship as feelings and emotions ebb and flow. Four friends watch each other dance, pose, jostle and admire each other’s joie de vivre. Hidden, perhaps suppressed, feelings and emotions begin to emerge. Gomes uses Chopin Études, and the piece is performed by Joaquin de Luz, Denis Matvienko, Friedemann Vogel and Marcelo Gomes himself.
Clay is “a play of ‘biomasses’, from which the creator forms characters, events, stories and destinies”. Vladimir Varnava’s piece also had its beginnings at the Creative Workshop for Young Choreographers at the Mariinsky last year. Music is by Darius Milhaud and the Clay is performed by Viktoria Brilyova, Yulia Kobzar, Zlata Yalinich, Maxim Zyuzin, Alexey Nedviga and Vasily Tkachenko.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.