Bolshoi Ballet - Swan Lake - Chopiniana - The Sleeping Beauty - La Sylphide - Le Spectre de la Rose - Theatre Royal Drury Lane

On 1 May 2001 I attended the opening programme of the Stars of the Bolshoi Ballet at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane. There were two further programmes that I attended and each programme contained "showpieces" from well-known ballets (not entire ballets).

PROGRAMME 1 included Flower Festival at Genzano pas de deux with magic by Eduard Helsted, choreography by Bournoville. Act Two from Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky, choreography by Lev Ivanov, revised by Yuri Grigorovich. The Adagio from Raymonda with music by Glazunov, choreography by Petipa and Grigorovich; the pas de deux from the Nutcracker, music by Tchaikovsky, choreography by Vasily Vainonen; Don Quixote grand pas, music by Linkus, choreography by Petipa and Alexandr Gorsky. Svetlana Lunkina and Sergei Filin danced the pas de deux from Gisele and they were enchanting - she reaching out for Albrech with hurt written all over her face. Music was by Adlophe Adam, choreography by Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa.

PROGRAMME 2, which I attended on 7 May: This programme included Chopiniana, set to music by Chopin - Mazurka and the C Sharp Minor Walts; choreography by Fokine. The Adagio from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet was choreographed by Leonid Lavrovsky. Narcissis (the youth who falls in love with his own reflection) has music by Nikolai Tcherepin and choreography by Kasyan Goleizovsky; La fille mal Gardee pas de deux has choreography by Alexander Gorsky, music by Peter Hertel. The Sleeping Beauty pas de deux has music by Tchaikovsky, choreography by Petipa, revised by Yuri Grigoroich. The programme included La Sylphide pas de deux, music by Herman Lovensjold, choreography by Bournonville. The programme ended with the pas de deux from Le Corsaire, choreography by Petipa.

NB: Chopiniana was the original production created by Fokine in 1907. It was later to become Les Sylphides and Chopin's C Sharp Minor Waltz - the only number to be carried forward into Les Sylphidies - was danced by Pavlova. There are many pleasures to be had in this second programme: the dazzling pirouetting of Anastasia Goryacheva in La Fille mal Gardee, the leaps and turns of Andrei Uvarov in the Sleeping Beauty and the virile athleticism of Sergei Filin in La Corsaire.

On 14 May I saw the THIRD PROGRAMME, which included Le Spectre de la Rose, music by Weber, choreography by Fokine - his romantic reverie inspired by a poem of Theophile Gautier. Flames of Paris was about events during the French Revolution and featured the pas de deux, music by Boris Asafiev, choreography by Vasily Vainonen. There was the wonderful Black Swan pas de deux from Act III of Swan Lake. There was a repeat of Narcissus and Don Quixote, the latter closing the programme which was danced by Maria Alexandra and Filin with great panache and style. A real showpiece was the Dying Swan danced by Svetlana Lunkina. The dance is taken from Saint-Saens' suite The Carnival of the Animals. Choreographed by Fokine, he staged it for Anna Pavlova (1881-1931). It was to become her "signature tune" as it were her showpiece and the one dance by which she is always known; in fact, ironically, she danced it as her final performance just days before she died. Lunkina had some lovely moves in her portrayal. Chopiniana, in particular, had a wonderfully atmospheric set by Vadim Rundim - its dewy greys and misty woodland greens suggest a dawn painting by Corot and the motionless groupings of the corps de ballet dances completed the tableaux.

Angela Rippon, reporting on the repertoire, says, "There is something for everyone. The Bolshoi has a distinctive style, the men incredibly athletic. Raymond Gubbay's ticket pricing policy also makes the Bolshoiy accessible too. " Of course, there has been criticism of Gubbay for not putting on "proper ballets" but he defends the programmes by saying it will appeal to those who's era perhaps intimidated by a whole ballet and that the ballet companies need help from Western impresarios, not hindrance!

Finally Boris Akimov, the new boss of the Bolshoi Ballet promises to wipe the stain off the company's reputation acquired in the Turbulent 1990s due to financial muddle, chaotic management and artistic vandalism. He hopes the current season at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane will restored the Bolshoi's artistic status.


Verinha Ottoni



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