Bolshoi Ballet in Hong Kong: cinemas to show eight new productions from November
Featuring the work of leading contemporary choreographers such as Alexei Ratmansky and loving reconstructions of 19th-century classics, new season includes productions of Romeo and Juliet, Coppelia, Le Corsaire and Giselle
Good news for ballet lovers – the Bolshoi Ballet’s new season of performances filmed live in Moscow is coming to Hong Kong cinemas starting in November.
As well as featuring some of the world’s greatest dancers in action, the varied selection of eight ballets showcases the company’s range, from work by leading contemporary choreographers to loving reconstructions of 19th-century classics.
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Those who follow the Bolshoi’s tumultuous fortunes will no doubt be keen to see how things are shaping up under its new artistic director, Makhar Vaziev. The director’s background at the Bolshoi’s great rival, St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Ballet, has raised questions about how the Bolshoi’s unique identity will fare under his leadership.
Among the high points of the series is the Bolshoi’s first run of Alexei Ratmansky’s Romeo and Juliet, set to Sergei Prokofiev’s iconic score. The prolific Ratmansky is one of the greatest choreographers working with classical technique today. His version of Shakespeare’s tale, originally created for the National Ballet of Canada, has won praise for its fresh approach and avoidance of clichés, as well as its stunning choreography and powerful drama.
The series includes another ultra-modern take on Shakespeare with The Taming of the Shrew. Choreographed for the Bolshoi in 2014 by Jean-Christophe Maillot to music by Dmitri Shostakovich, it features the original cast from three years ago, including the dazzling Vladislav Lantratov as Petruchio and Ekaterina Krysanova as Katherina. Sharp, witty and super-sexy (it is designated “adults only” on the Bolshoi’s website) the ballet has been a hit with audiences worldwide and in 2015 won three Golden Masks, Russia’s top theatre award, for best production and best male and female dancer.
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At the opposite end of the spectrum, two productions honour the history of ballet with reconstructions that strip away over 100 years of additions and alterations to their performances, giving a fascinating insight into 19th-century presentation and choreography. First, the ever delightful Coppelia, based on the Marius Petipa/Enrico Cecchetti staging of 1892, is a tribute to the work of Sergei Vikharev, a pioneer of ballet restoration who died tragically this year at the age of 55. Second, a new filming of Le Corsaire, staged by Ratmansky and Yuri Burlaka, offers exotic spectacle and a wealth of virtuoso dancing from a glittering cast led by new generation stars Olga Smirnova and Igor Tsvirko.
Separately, Ratmansky pays homage to a very different historic era – the Soviet propaganda ballets of the 1930s – with the rip-roaring Flames of Paris which thrilled audiences at the Hong Kong Arts Festival in 2015. Yuri Grigorovich’s perennially popular production of The Nutcracker, meanwhile, returns as a Christmas treat for all the family.
The stories of two tragic heroines who die for love complete the season. Giselle features superstar ballerina Svetlana Zakharova in the title role, partnered by the ballet’s tattooed bad boy Sergei Polunin, whose sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll lifestyle should not overshadow his exceptional talent as a classical dancer. Zakharova also takes the title role in John Neumeier’s celebrated production of The Lady of the Camellias, set to music by Chopin.