Bolshoi Ballet celebrates 60 years of first foreign performance

  • AFP, London
  • Updated: Jul 27, 2016 10:33 IST
Under the guidance of new Artistic Director Makhar Vaziev, the ballet company will conduct a ‘diamond jubilee’ guest tour from July 25 through August 13, 2016. (Bolshoi Theatre)

Bolshoi Theatre is back at the Royal Opera House to celebrate the 60 years since it first performed overseas in London.

Under the guidance of new Artistic Director Makhar Vaziev, previously of the La Scala and Mariinsky Ballets, the ballet company will conduct a ‘diamond jubilee’ guest tour from July 25 through August 13, 2016 in the British capital.

Bolshoi Theatre dancers Ksenia Dudnikova as Marguerite, Saimir Pirgu as Faust, in ‘La Damnation de Faust’. (Bolshoi Theatre)

In 1956, the Russian company first performed in front of a foreign audience at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garde, London. Despite the tension of the Cold War, and near-cancellation just three days before the opening night, the month-long tour went ahead and was a monumental event in the history of dance due to the Russian dancers’ superior and ground-breaking technique.

Watch: Bolshoi Ballet’s Diamond Jubilee of landmark London visit

Performances included ‘Swan Lake’, and ‘The Fountain of Bakhchisarai’. The Etoile dancer Galina Ulanova was a particular highlight in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Giselle’, contributing to her reputation as one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century.

Best of the Bolshoi

The three-week tour will be composed of performances of five of the most internationally famous ballets.

Fadeyechev’s recently-restaged ‘Don Quixote’ by Marius Petipa and Ludwig Minkus opened the tour on July 25, starring the Russian soloist dancers Ekaterina Krysanova and Andrei Merkuriev. The dance company originally debuted the ballet in 1869.

Perhaps the most famous ballet in the world, Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’ returns with principal dancer Svetlana Zakharova. Former director of the Bolshoi, the 89-year-old Yuri Grigorovich, created the choreography.

‘Frank Bridge Variations’ featuring Ekaterina Shipulina, Denis Rodkin, 2016. (Bolshoi Theatre)

A nod to Shakespeare’s 400th birthday year celebrations, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ will star the prima ballerina Olga Smirnova and Artemy Belyakov. The choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot was awarded a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters award in 2015 for his contribution to dance.

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‘The Flames of Paris’ — with Maria Alexandrova — features “one of the most stunning pas de deux in the ballet repertoire” according to the Royal Opera House. Alexei Ratmansky’s revival of Vainonen’s ballet was first premiered in London 2013.

The Bolshoi Ballet Diamond Jubilee Tour will close with performances of a reworked version of Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges’ ‘Le Corsaire’ on August 11-12, starring Anna Tikhomirova and Anna Nikulina.

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