Thursday, Nov.5th, 2013, International Dance Season opened with the world premier of Diana Vishneva’s "On The Edge" at Segestrom Hall in Orange County, California.
Vishneva, the quintessential Russian ballerina presented a program quite different than her audience may have expected.
Born in St Petersburg, Russia, trained at the Vaganova Ballet Academy, Vishenva won a gold medal at the Prix Lausanne in 1994.
It is there that Vishneva first met Jean- Christoph Maillot one of the two choreographers collaborating on the creation of this year’s performance called On The Edge.
Vishneva, still a principal dancer at the Mariinsky Ballet distinguished herself launching a concert series with the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, showcasing projects of a more experimental nature. Naturally Vishneva gained popularity through her brilliant interpretations in leading roles of classical works such as Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, Romeo& Juliet and Jewels. The local audience has also admired her in modern works of Martha Graham and Mats Ek.
Vishneva consistently seeking out new choreographers it is therefore no surprise she came back after presenting new works in Tour The Force I+II in 2009 and 2011 seeking out two of Europe’s new leading choreographers Carolyn Carlson and Jean- Christoph Maillot to work with her On The Egde.
The evening starts with Switch, a piece that tells the story about a woman, her alter ego and her relationship with men. Vishneva, dressed in a stunning bronze metallic dress moves with such ardor one forgets there is another couple on stage. Maillot, who is choreographer-director of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo created this as a pas de trois set to music by the Academy Award-nominated and Grammy Award-winning film composer Danny Elfman. The other dancers featured are Bernice Coppieteers and Gaetan Morlotti, stars of Les Ballets de Monte- Carlo who seem to represent a couple in love that is being interrupted by Vishneva. With her effortless high extensions, deep plies and expressive modern arm movements she soon takes center stage maybe representing herself and her natural tendency to be the center of attention. The couple beautifully in harmony with each other, soon make her part of their romance, only to be rejected and pushed around, letting the ballerina indulge in her alter ego.
Vishneva, always in fluid motion connects to her deepest self, executing every move with utmost precision and intention. It is the interaction with the couple that keeps this piece interesting although the music seems way to cinematic for live stage. Vishneva finishes this act with a breath taking solo on the barre seemingly insinuating that most of a dancers life starts and ends there.
The second part of the evening takes an unexpected turn with Carolyn Carlson’s Woman in a Room solo. Vishneva is every bit of a trouper being part of this very experimental piece. She plays intently and joyfully with the audience even though the choreography seems uninspiring and time passed with Vishneva changing outfits 5 times on stage. Her charming personality finally pulls the rather uninterested audience back to her.
The choreography based on modern more pedestrian moves doesn’t only look unflattering but also consist only of a small vocabulary of moves which repeats themselves consistently and leaves the spectator why one would waist a world class talent to this type of choreography.
In a very informal tone Vishneva introduces the lemons which we assume are meant to represent the bitterness and contemplation of life but as far as we know lemons are sour. Nevertheless the audience takes the scenery with a grain of salt and chimes in with clapping proving only an artist of this caliber could get a standing ovation for such a unusual performance.