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Daria Klimentova Gala, Prague, May 2014

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I haven’t been able to spend much time on writing this month but, as Daria Klimentova starts her last week of performances with ENB, I thought it would be better late than never to report on her gala in Prague, exactly a month after the event on 15 May.  Klimentova did not call it a Farewell Gala but rather a Thank You to the city and company where she trained and where she started her career. It was held in Prague’s beautiful State Opera House and it is a mark of the esteem in which Klimentova is held by her fellow Czechs that the evening sold out within twenty minutes of the tickets going on sale!  I therefore felt very privileged that I was able to be there for the evening which opened with a ten-minute film of Klimentova on and off stage throughout her career which, despite having a Czech commentary with no subtitles, was a thoroughly enjoyable record of highlights from her extraordinary career and her unassuming offstage persona.  Klimentova involved members of the Czech National Ballet in the performance with principals and soloists giving us Javier Torres’s take on the pas de deux from “Sleeping Beauty” Act III  (minus the series of three fish dives), excerpts from Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations” , a contemporary solo created and danced by Viktor Konvalinka and an avant-garde interpretation of the balcony pas de deux from “Romeo and Juliet” complete with the participation of Queen Mab and Friar Laurence (choreography by Petr Zuska).  While the dancers may not have quite the technical finesse and brilliance of Klimentova and Vadim Muntagirov, everything was danced with great commitment and brio.

But of course this was Klimentova’s night, shared with her favourite partner at his most sympathetic and ardent, starting with the Act II pas de deux from “Swan Lake”.  As I watched Muntagirov’s superb partnering and the delicacy of Klimentova’s petits battements between each of the three supported pirouettes at the end, I felt very sad that we will never see this partnership dance the complete ballet again.  They ended the first half of the evening with a passionate and breathtaking performance of the Grotto pas de deux from “Le Corsaire”. To end the evening, a suite of dances from “Don Quixote” had been arranged, including the famous pas de deux, which also allowed dancers from the company to shine in various solos and ensembles. Muntagirov’s bravura solos elicited gasp after gasp from the audience and Klimentova proved that she is retiring at the height of her powers even if she had decided enough is enough when it came to the fouettés which she happily left to a student from the Conservatory! 

As Klimentova appeared for her final bow, carried aloft by Muntagirov in a one-handed lift as in “Spring Waters”, the audience spontaneously rose en masse to give her a standing ovation which lasted at least fifteen minutes during which the bouquets kept arriving and confetti showered down on her – a truly memorable evening.  


I had hoped to download a snapshot from the evening but not sure how to do it!

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