Monday, January 23, 2017

The Bolshoi Ballet

Yesterday afternoon I went to the cinema for one of the screenings they do of theater, opera, museum tours and the like from around the world.  I saw the classical ballet The Sleeping Beauty. 

We all know the story: Princess Aurora is born to the king and queen, who inadvertently forget to invite the local witch, Carabosse, to the celebrations. The witch crashes the party with six demons in tow, and curses the newborn--at the age of 16 Aurora will prick her finger on a spindle and die. Fortunately, the Lilac Fairy is able to alter the spell--Aurora won't die but she will sleep for 100 years, to be awoken by a handsome prince. Prince Desire finds Aurora and wakes her with a kiss, whereupon there is much rejoicing and a wedding.

I have seen a few ballets but was afraid to see this one. Years ago, I had the good fortune to watch live Rudolph Nureyev. I was mesmerized as he danced the prince and I feared I would unconsciously compare. Nureyev was breathtaking, beyond astounding, his incredible, powerful, magical leaps across the stage imbedded in my memory. 

I shouldn't have worried. The Bolshoi's dancers were amazing in their own way.  Princess Aurora was everything light and young and hopeful, and the young Prince Desire her perfect counterpart. Carabosse was played by a male dancer and got quite few chortles from the packed theater I sat in.

The Bolshoi is based in Moscow. Founded in 1776 out of a 1773 orphanage, it's one of the world's oldest ballet companies. The film of this ballet took us behind the scenes at the Bolshoi Theater.  The multi-lingual (6 languages!!!) mistress of ceremonies, which such screenings usually provide, pointed out the box formerly reserved for royals, now reserved for top government officials. We went to the room adjacent to one of the special boxes, a space that could easily seat a dozen people, adorned with scarlet flocked wallpaper, gilded chairs and sofa with plush red upholstry, glass tables and gold-framed mirrors, "Where they could drink champagne," she said.

If you like ballet, several others from the Bolshoi are playing in theaters around the world on the same days, so hopefully you can find a venue near you!  There's a lovely 2+ minute video on this site, a composite of several ballets they are performing this season. 


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