The tour was opened by young but dazzling Mariinsky Ballet soloists Alina Somova and Vladimir Shklyarov in the lead roles in Romeo and Juliet. Shklyarov as Romeo was a veritable “find” for the London press: “Vladimir Shklyarov, who appeared that evening as Romeo, was passionate, soaring, technically flawless, elegant. This is a dancer of noble repute; and he creates a vivid image of the ardent youth” (The Financial Times). Also outstanding were Ilya Kuznetsov as Tybalt, Alexander Sergeyev as Mercutio and Yana Selina as Juliet’s companion.
London’s audiences were unanimous in their delight to welcome the theatre’s prima ballerina Ulyana Lopatkina in the ballet Swan Lake. According to the London press, Lopatkina in the role of Odette-Odile was “hypnotic and enigmatic” (The Times).
The Mariinsky Theatre’s corps de ballet, too, received high accolades. The Times critic Deborah Crane called it a “unified body with unified breath where each and every dancer demonstrates brilliantly moulded lines.”
A programme of ballets by George Balanchine consisting of Serenade, Rubies and Symphony in C caused a veritable furore among critics. The Guardian wrote: “The Mariinsky Ballet always presents Balanchine with a Russian accent,” and “the St Petersburg dancers understood, like no-one else, the ‘other’, inner logic of this choreography.” Each of the reviewers had their favourites among the artistes: some preferred Ulyana Lopatkina, others liked Viktoria Tereshkina while yet more were enchanted by Yekaterina Kondaurova, with other favourites including Yevgenia Obraztsova, Irina Golub and Elena Yevseyeva. The journalists all agreed that each of the soloists demonstrated the very highest performing standards.
At the close of the tour, The Evening Standard newspaper awarded the Mariinsky Ballet five stars in its rating, thus confirming yet again the extremely high levels achieved by the theatre’s ballet company.