Bolshoi Ballet beams classics and modern dance live to Hong Kong cinemas

New season of live broadcasts from Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre features three Tchaikovsky gems, two highly accessible Shostakovich ballets, a modern dance triple bill and 2015’s A Hero Of Our Time

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2016, 4:04pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 September, 2016, 9:15am

The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema programme returns to Hong Kong’s Broadway cinemas this autumn with something for everyone.

As well as the traditional delights of Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty, the 2016/17 programme of live broadcasts from Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre features three full-length modern ballets new to Hong Kong and a triple bill that gives the chance to see how the Russian troupe’s classical dancers fare in more modern work.

There’s a feast for music lovers too, with the magnificent Bolshoi Orchestra performing not only the three Tchaikovsky ballets, but also two superb scores by Shostakovich, The Golden Age and The Bright Stream.

Shostakovich composed three original ballet scores (the third is The Bolt) between 1929 and 1935, a period when the newly created Soviet Union was bursting with experimentation and creativity in the arts.

Both The Golden Age and The Bright Stream are works whose lively, accessible music and light-hearted plots reflect the energy and optimism of this era. Sadly, this heady time was short-lived as the dead hand of Stalinist ideology clamped down; by 1936 all Shostakovich’s ballets had been banned and the composer and his collaborators disgraced.

The original choreography of both works has been lost and the versions danced by the Bolshoi were created by two former artistic directors of the company, Yuri Grigorovich and Alexei Ratmansky. Diametric opposites as artists and personalities, each has had a profound influence on the Bolshoi’s artistic development and these two ballets typify the style and strengths of their creators.

Grigorovich led the Bolshoi from 1964 to 1995. At the age of 89, he’s now ballet master and his productions, including Spartacus and Ivan the Terrible, still feature prominently in the repertoire. His 1982 The Golden Age is a scintillating homage to silent films complete with nightclubs, frenetic chases and a beautiful girl torn between good guy (noble young worker) and bad guy (sexy gangster). It’s packed with the thrilling male dancing and death-defying lifts which are Grigorovich’s trademarks and has gorgeous art deco designs by Simon Virsaladze.

Laden with awards and acclaim at home and abroad, Alexei Ratmansky’s 2003 The Bright Stream is a charming, almost Mozartian, comedy of errors set on a collective farm which features ballet, folk dance, accordions and bicycles, not to mention a couple switching male and female identities to punish a couple of would-be seducers.

Turning from comedy to tragedy, the newest ballet, premiered in 2015, is A Hero Of Our Time. Choreographer Yuri Possokhov and director/librettist Kirill Serebrennikov have taken an innovative, modernistic approach to Mikhail Lermontov’s great 19th century novel, dividing the story into three sections with the hero (or anti-hero) Pechorin portrayed by a different dancer in each.

The triple bill offers three contrasting classics of modern ballet: Jerome Robbins’ macabre The Cage, which explores how the female of the species is more deadly than the male; Ratmansky’s witty, poetic Russian Seasons and Harold Landers’ exhilarating Etudes, a showcase of virtuosity packed with spectacular dancing.

 

The season is rounded off by Grigorovich’s lavish production of The Sleeping Beauty plus re-runs of Swan Lake, with superstar ballerina Svetlana Zakharova displaying her dazzling technique in the dual role of Odette/Odile and The Nutcracker with the delightful Anna Nikulina, both ballerinas partnered impeccably by the elegant Denis Rodkin.

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