By Ryan Wallace
Marking her seventh appearance at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, Diana Vishneva’s On the Edge is as elegant and dynamic as Diana herself. A legend in the dance community, Vishneva has danced in the most coveted roles and represented some of the most esteemed companies (the American Ballet Theatre and the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia) as a principal dancer. As a prima ballerina, Vishneva has travelled the world imbuing historical ballet characters and garnering the most prestigious awards the dance community has to offer. And with titles like People’s Artist of Russia, best dancer of Europe, and the Ballerina of the Decade prize, it comes as no surprise that even before her world premiere of On the Edge, Vishneva is making headlines world-wide.
Subdivided into two acts, Switch and Woman in a Room, the ballet brings two very different components to the stage. The first act, Switch, performed by Diana Vishneva, Bernice Coppieters and Gaetan Morlotti is a highly emotive piece choreographed by Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo’s director of choreography, Jean-Christophe Maillot. Provocative and raw, Switch is a testament to contemporary ballet. Stripping away the cliché view of ballerinas in tutus doing pirouettes, Vishneva’s performance evolves into solely the human form and bare emotion.
Telling a story of conflict where the heroine ponders the mutual exclusivity of art and life, Switch integrates the best components of everything contemporary—music, design and choreography. The music, which integrates various styles such as 20’s big band music, jazz and even the tango, is composed by one of the most versatile and accomplished film composers in the industry—Danny Elfman. Noted for his scores of many feature-films, including his collaborations with Tim Burton over the past 30 years, Elfman takes components of various genres and decades to create a score that is uniquely contemporary. The design is modern, sleek and minimalistic. And as for Vishneva’s costume, which is starkly futuristic In its metallic silver lamé, it is designed and created by Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld.
A contrasting solo-piece, the second act Woman in a Room is hauntingly beautiful. More contemporary in her movement than traditional ballet, Vishneva tells a story of transformation as a woman metamorphoses on a life journey of reflection. Inspired by the films of Andrey Tarkovsky, Woman in a Room combines beauty, poetry and a darker side to introspection. The music complements the dance, as woodwind progressions accompanied by harps create movement and harmony. It is evident ever more so in this act that Vishneva is passionate in her craft. Expecting perfection of herself, she twists the choreography to make it so. With the grace of a ballerina and the movements of a lyrical poet, Vishneva brings ballet into the 21st century and paves a way for the ballet of the future.
The Segerstrom Center for the Arts will open their 2013-2014 international dance season with the world premiere of Diana Vishneva: On the Edge November 6, 7, 9 & 10 and tickets are on sale now. With a stunning contemporary twist and a prima ballerina that defines grace, On the Edge offers something for all audiences and is a exhibition you won’t want to miss!