Arts preview: Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 October, 2012, 4:49pm

Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema

Broadway circuit

There's nothing like the thrill of seeing great ballet live on stage but, unfortunately, it's not an option available to everyone. That's why some of the world's top companies have started filming their performances to be broadcast live at home and shown in cinemas abroad. High-definition technology, big screens and surround sound systems offer a breathtaking experience that is the next best thing to being in the theatre.

Hong Kong audiences now have the chance to see the most exciting ensemble of them all: Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet, in eight programmes being shown by the Broadway circuit from now until next July.

The season showcases some of the world's greatest ballet stars. "Bolshoi" means "big" and it aptly describes the flamboyant style for which the company's dancers are famous, with their soaring jumps, passion and panache. The ballets being shown range from 19th-century classics to a newly commissioned version of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring by controversial contemporary choreographer Wayne McGregor.

The series kicks off today with Swan Lake. The dual role of Odette/Odile is danced by the charismatic Maria Alexandrova, whose regal arms and back, glorious phrasing and magnificent jump make her the quintessential Bolshoi ballerina. Together with the company's celebrated corps de ballet, Alexandrova and her elegant Prince, Ruslan Skvortsov, bring out the full beauty of Lev Ivanov's choreography and Tchaikovsky's music.

August Bournonville's 1836 work La Sylphide is the oldest ballet still regularly performed and the choreography epitomises the Romantic school with its bright, buoyant jumps and fast, precise footwork. Petite and exquisitely light, Nina Kaptsova is ideally cast as the woodland fairy who falls in love with a human being. Her lover James is rising star Artem Ovcharenko, tall, handsome and blessed with a wonderful jump. Kaptsova and Ovcharenko also head the cast for family favourite The Nutcracker in a production by Yuri Grigorovich that is packed with virtuoso dancing.

The new year brings The Pharoah's Daughter, French choreographer Pierre Lacotte's loving recreation of a "lost" ballet created by Marius Petipa in 1862. The plot is a frothy farrago of nonsense about an archaeologist who is transported to ancient Egypt in a dream and - you guessed it - falls in love with the Pharoah's daughter. This lavish spectacle gives a fascinating glimpse of what ballet was really like in the 1860s. The title role is taken by international superstar Svetlana Zakharova.

No company does Don Quixote better than the Bolshoi and no dancers today are better as fiery heroine Kitri and roguish hero Basilio than Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev. Both have been dazzling audiences worldwide since their teens and their technical prowess, energy and sense of fun make them the outstanding Kitri and Basilio of their generation.

In 2011 the real-life couple left the Bolshoi for St Petersburg's Mikhailovsky Ballet, making this classic interpretation of Don Quixote with their original company (filmed in 2010) all the more unmissable.

Natasha Rogai


The series runs from today until July 2013