Internationally acclaimed Russian prima ballerina Irina Kolesnikova and the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre will make their US debut February 15-16 at BAM with their lush and lavish production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Rejected by the Kirov and the Bolshoi because of her size, Kolesnikova ultimately made a home — and a family — with the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre, eventually marrying founder Konstantin Tachkin, with whom she has two children. They’ve come a long way since he called her a “little red lump in a T-shirt” when she auditioned at the age of ten.
Not to be confused with the St Petersburg Festival Ballet or the St Petersburg State Ballet — the name issue is currently in court — the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre has toured with such classics as The Nutcracker, Giselle, Cinderella, and The Sleeping Beauty, but their gem is Swan Lake, with two dozen swans and Kolesnikova as Odette/Odile. At BAM, they will be accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra of New York, conducted by Timur Gorkovenko. The Vaganova-trained Kolesnikova also has performed the title role in the company’s Her Name Was Carmen, its unique take on the Georges Bizet ballet based on Prosper Mérimée’s novella, with the setting moved to a refugee site, inspired by her 2016 visit to Balkan camps.