There’s a joke making its way around the internet lately, about the Lion of Gripsholm Castle, which is, basically, a lion that was taxidermied by a man who had never seen one before. The results are hilarious – it has big, forward facing monkey eyes, and square teeth that look especially fetching in this photoshopped image.
This, my beloveds, is the sum result of the misguided attempt to “recreate” The Blue God without benefit of its original music or even a scrap of the choreography. It is a dead skin that makes a joke of the original. Working off of costume and set designs and some pictures, the missing movement reimagined as an evening of pointless dancing and canned emotion, the Diaghilev festival sullied the Coliseum’s stage with the creeping horror of a “Orientalist” silent movie – Alla Nazimova’s Salome with bonus green lasers. Wayne Eagling should be ashamed of himself for creating such a dull mess. At the same time, there’s no doubting the Kremlin Ballet Theater have a lot to answer for with the pathetically sloppy dancing of their “corpse de ballet:” cueing off each other, stumbling, and utterly failing to maintain unison. I was mortified. The “stars” in this show could not compensate for the inherent flaws of the entire presentation. I snuck off into the night at the interval, not wanting my many happy memories of the Firebird to be tainted by such amateurishness. Perfectly sewn Bakst designs simply are not enough to save this production from its inherent car-crash of badness. You may yearn to see the original, but I can promise you: if you want to maintain the dream of a gorgeous gesamtkusntwerk dance experience, keep well away from this toothless lion.
(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011. The Kremlin Ballet Theater’s Diaghilev Festival continues at the London Coliseum through Sunday April 17th; I’ll be skipping the rest of the productions in favor of getting caught up on my gardening.)