At the height of its summer season, the Moscow based Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre’s presented a triple bill of works by the late American choreographer Jerome Robbins . Robbins became famous mainly for his works on broadway, yet he also assisted Balanchine at the New York City Ballet and created many neoclassical works that are now in the repertoire of ballet companies worldwide. Jerome Robbins Dances is a unique program that brings In The Night, Other Dances and The Concert to the Russian stage. The choreographies were performed with great technical ability by the Stanislavsky ballet dancers, but they still have to make the works their own for make the programme reach its full potential.

Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin in *Other Dances © Oleg Chernous
Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin in *Other Dances
© Oleg Chernous
The evening opens with a breathtakingly beautiful performance of In The Night, a piece consisting of elegant pas de deux set to Chopin’s nocturnes. Three love stories unfold under a romantic starry sky, the first one being that of the young and dreamy couple Anna Ol and Roman Polkovnikov. She floats above the stage, her every move seemingly weightless and punctuated by delicate soft arm work. He gently raises her in graceful lifts in which she seems to be reaching for the sky, and he skilfully supports her in numerous arabesques and turns. The second couple (Ksenia Ryzhkova and Denis Dmitriev) is more formal, the duet bittersweet. The stage transforms into a ballroom with chandeliers, and the couple calmly paces around before he courteously asks her for a dance. Her pulsing legs in the lifts reveal her hidden emotions - and doubt - in a subtle and touching manner. Finally the third couple of Natalia Somova and Georgi Smilevski enters the stage whilst in conflict, with Natalia freeing herself from Georgi’s arms. Their duet is powerful and passionate. It is a game of attraction and repulsion with the partners alternatively rejecting each other with stretched arms or simply by running off the stage. However, they always return to fall into each other's arms. The piece ends in the meeting and parting of all the couples, who performed this work to perfection and created some magical moments on stage. 

Expectations are high from guest star couple Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin performing in Other Dances, a piece once created for the legendary Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Just like In The Night this work is set to music by Chopin (here one waltz and four mazurkas).The choreography contains playful influences of folk dance, and is relatively simple; so much so that the success of the work relies heavily on the performance of the dancers. Natalia Osipova has a natural charm, engaging with the audience with her a joyful and crisp performance. Sergei Polunin's dancing was strong and clean, yet the work doesn’t allow him to show everything he’s capable of both in terms of technique and acting abilities. There is a lot of chemistry between the two artists, but they can express it more clearly in works that have more emotional depth. However, their dancing is still of high quality and it will be interesting to see them grow into these roles.

© Oleg Chernous
© Oleg Chernous
The programme ends with the comic ballet The Concert, inspired by quirky characters in the music scene as well as the names of some of Chopin's compositions such as “Butterfly” and “Raindrop”. From the very first minute, when the pianist enters the stage and wipes off the dust on the piano, acting plays a major part in this choreography. One by one the spectators enter the stage bringing their own foldable chairs; among them a very serious man who is bothered by the noise made by two women, a dreamy woman who hugs the piano and remains seated even when her chair gets removed, and one who completely loses herself in the music and gets angry when disturbed by a poor foolish man in search of his seat. The most entertaining part is that of the ballerinas, who desperately try to perform but miserably fail by adapting to each other and getting confused. In the end one of them notices that she raises the wrong arm, and she slowly and secretly starts to move during the final applause, causing great hilarity among the audience. Unfortunately the ballet loses its humour halfway through, ending with a somewhat dull performance of the butterfly scene where the focus of the dancers seems to be on a faultless technical execution rather than natural acting, which prevents the evening from ending on a high note.