Presented by Grand International Concert
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
Since the early 1960’s, when Eric Edgley began importing Russian dance shows, Australia has been treated to some of the finest dance ensembles available in Russia. However,none have been more impressive than “Kostroma” which is currently coming to the end of its world-wind Australian tour before moving on to New Zealand.
Though this is its first Australian tour, “Kostroma”, which was founded in the early 1990’s, has already carved out an enviable reputation on the International touring circuit for its superb dancers and stunning production values. The founders of the company, Elena and Yuri Tsarenko, tour with the company, together with their two children, Ivan Tsarenko, (one of the lead dancers and stunt coach), and Maria Veshkina, (who’s responsible for the touring and public relations arrangements).
The whole company is very family orientated. 80% of the 50 elite dancers who make up the troupe are married couples, and they tour with 10 tons of costumes and scenery which includes 600 exquisite costumes and 300 props, among them Tatar bells, medieval spears, shields, banners and flags.
What sets this handsome company apart from similar dance shows is it’s attention to detail, the imaginative staging of its performances, and the precision and skill of its dancers. The various dance numbers are arranged as a history of Russia told through a seamless series of cleverly staged sequences. The beautifully designed costumes eschew authenticity in favour of artistic theatrical representations of those worn in the various regions represented. Similarly the impressive silver filigree setting, which includes a huge screen on which an ever-changing montage of beautiful images, some abstract, others realistic, are projected to enchant and inform.
The stage is constantly awash with action, whether by superbly trained dancers in exquisitely detailed costumes, eyes downcast and faces serene, gliding around the stage executing unbelievably intricate manoeuvres, or by the exciting hordes of bold Georgian warriors, or drum-beating Caucasians, catapulting around the stage performing eye-popping stunts. There is delightful fun as a dancing horse intrudes into a charming Russian Tea Shop scene.
Especially impressive, given the gruelling tour schedule, is the attention to detail. Each dancer is impeccably turned-out, not a hair out of place, nor a hand or foot. The choreography is precisely executed, and the costumes are superbly presented, not a crease or crinkle to be seen.