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Dvorovenko Moves On

advorovenko1msrIrina Dvorovenko as Polyhymnia in George Balanchine’s Apollo
Photo:  Marty Sohl

On May 18, Irina Dvorovenko gave her final performance with American Ballet Theatre as Tatiana in John Cranko’s Onegin.  She plans to continue dancing elsewhere as a guest artist.

dvorovenko.gsrPortrait of Dvorovenko
Photo:  Gene Schiavone

Interestingly, she probably has a higher rating for good looks than any—except, perhaps, for Julie Kent­­—­­of the illustrious ballerinas who have danced with the company in, say, the last decade.  This just proves, once again, that in ballet good looks—Dvorovenko is a handsome woman with a statuesque figure—go just so far.  She’s best known for her performances in classical ballets and, in the course of her career, has earned her share of medals in that arena.  I’ve always wondered why she never extended her repertoire very far or very often past those touchstones?  Did she never yearn to do more contemporary works?  Or did ABT consider her unsuitable to them?

gdvorobelos1nerrDvorovenko partnered by her husband, Maxim Beloserkovsky, in Giselle
Photo:  Nancy Ellison

Dvorovenko was often partnered at ABT by her husband, Maxim Beloserkovsky, himself a fine dancer but, being a light, lyrical type—subtle rather than striking—not an ideal onstage match for his wife.  He retired from ABT before she did, leaving satisfying memories of his clean technique and poetic style.

sldvorovenko2gsrDvorovenko as Odette in Swan Lake
Photo:  Gene Schiavone

Dvorovenko’s farewell to ABT found her very much at her present best—with reasonably authoritative technique and a genuine effort to convey the emotions Tatiana must project.  These range from shy, youthful innocence stricken with reckless passion in the girl’s first experience of love to the woman’s effort of achieving a deep serenity in a mature coupling.  In other words, Tatiana moves from a youthful fantasy triggered by an exceedingly attractive object to the quieter pleasures of a mature love that results in lasting devotion.  It must be admitted that few achieve the latter in real life, but the state is truer to the happily-ever-after story than the one described in ballets that quit with a shockingly expensive wedding.

lbdvorovenko1mrrDvorovenko as Nikiya in La Bayadère
Photo:  MIRA

© 2013 Tobi Tobias


  1. Eric Taub says

    As much as I’ve appreciated Irina over the years, after seeing that excerpt from Onegin at ABT’s gala, I just couldn’t bring myself to sit through Onegin, even for her, and decided that On Your Toes! will have to be my farewell to her:

  2. Tobi, I actually saw Irina Dvorovenko do a very convincing job in Martine van Hamel’s old role of the “funky” ballerina in Twyla Tharp’s Push Comes to Shove. She also danced in Tharp’s In the Upper Room. In her earlier years with ABT she was quite versatile. Her ABT bio shows that she created roles in Brahms-Haydn Variations. Irina also danced quite a bit of Balanchine, including the Siren in The Prodigal Son and the lead ballerina parts in Theme and Variations, Allegro Brillante, and Apollo, among many others. In fact Irina was rather more versatile than her husband Maxim, who was not the most versatile or convincing dramatic actor. He also was very much the “danseur noble” in his emploi, style, and presence and didn’t excel in dramatic ballets. Irina is a very fine actress in drama and also has a delicious light touch in comedy. She was adorable as both Hanna and Valencienne in The Merry Widow and was delicious as the Operetta Diva in Tudor’s Gaîté Parisienne knockoff Offenbach in the Underworld. Her knockout debut in a speaking role as Vera Baronova in Encores’ On Your Toes! was not a total surprise to me. I was surprised by her expert timing in the dialogue but not by her comedic sense; I had already admired it in her performances of humerous ballets.

    What happened in later years was that Max’s technique declined earlier than hers did and ABT lost interest in both of them. Neither were put in new projects by Alexei Ratmansky though Irina would have been superb – definitive actually – as the Touring Ballerina in The Bright Stream. So a less experienced soloist like Isabella Boylston got to do that role. ABT is very interested in Boylston’s potential as a principal in the future. ABT management is not totally to blame; both Max and Irina accepted a lot of guest engagements limiting the time available to rehearse new ballets. So it was easier to put them in something they knew suchas Swan Lake or Giselle season after season.

  3. I seldom saw Miss Dvorovenko dance. I recently tried to get a ticket to see her as the Russian ballerina in On Your Toes at Encores, but it was all sold out. Somehow I thought that role might have suited her well. She certainly has glamour.

    However, in the ABT looks department, I have to cast my own vote for Diana Vishneva.

  4. Irina was my first ballerina way back when I didn’t know much about ballet. I saw her as Kitri and O/O and thought she was everything a ballerina should be — glamorous, fun, beautiful. Back then she could also turn like a top and her dancing had more spontaneity. Then I left NY for several years, and when I came back I went to an Irina O/O and was shocked that the fun, exciting dancer I remembered had been replaced by a rather brittle, charmless doppleganger. The steps were all there, but it was all so posed and calculated, and after another disappointing performance or two I stopped buying tickets to see her.

    I saw her often in NY, accompanied by her husband. She was always impeccably dressed. I saw her once at Rite-Aid buying regular household items, dressed to the nines. I read some interviews where she seemed increasingly unhappy with ABT and at times ballet. I Remember a Channel 13 profile on her and Maxim where both talked about how their harsh balletic training affected them.

    I have no idea if this is true but it seems as if Irina lost the joy to dance. I can’t really understand any other reason for the joyless, brittle dancer I saw onstage the last couple of times I saw her, especially when the technique was still there. Nonetheless she seems to have left ABT on her own terms and I have to respect her for that, instead of phoning in more performances like some ABT principals that I won’t mention.

  5. Martha Ullman West says

    “Shockingly expensive wedding…” I love it!

    • sandi kurtz says

      Me too!

    • Alice Helpern says

      I’ve seen a number of performances with Irina and Maxim and each of them with other partners but in the past few years I chose many programs in which neither was cast for various reasons. I also recall that there was a short hiatus when their daughter was born, The first time I saw their Swan Lake in a Wednesday matinee, I thought it was outstanding. The following year I thought highly of their Giselle. I can recall other enjoyable individual roles from Tharp to Tudor and would have loved to see the Onegin. I hope I’ll see Irina and Maxim many times more as guest artists or in their own touring company. All the beautiful photographs shown above speak for themselves.

  6. I was introduced to Irina and Maxim during the Southern Ballet Theatre days with Vadim Fedotov and Irina Depler. We had a fabulous time in Orlando and and were taken backstage at ABT to meet them again. Over the years we have seen so many roles played by both. Oddly enough, when I bought an apartment in New York it was in their building too.

    My most unforgettable performance was years ago when Irina played Kitri and was electric as usual, but backstage she was completely exhausted. This made sense because that’s when she found out she was going to have a baby. I was lucky enough to see the child often in those first years, with Irina’s beautiful mother.

    I will miss Irina at ABT, as a great many of us will. She always brought a charged precision and dynamic personality to her characterizations and a palpable audience connection (that, after all these years, I am still waiting for in Gillian Murphy, for example.) I would love to see Irina in On Your Toes. Trying to find a way.

  7. Jann Parry says

    Apropos Onegin‘s mature love pas de deux: can you think of any other ballets in which a married couple express their love? Not counting Ashton’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream reconciliation pas de deux because Oberon and Titania aren’t human; nor The Fades are Leaving because memory is unreliably rose-tinted… any others?

    • Mary Cargill says

      “Enigma Variations”, certainly, would count for married love in a ballet.

  8. Leo Greenbaum says

    Superb Classical technique. Beautiful woman. Will miss her.

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