World Ballet Day # 2: The Bolshoi Ballet

The Bolshoi’s class was the most perfunctory of the three companies I’ve seen so far on World Ballet Day but it was the most relaxed.

Only a few soloists and principals turned up, and sadly David Hallberg wasn’t among them, but their short barre and centre showed their virtuosity in a cool kind of way, with Denis Rodkin given a big plug as a future international star by the Bolshoi’s artistic director, Sergei Filin.

It was good to see Filin throughout the Bolshoi segment, still wearing his dark glasses that protected his eyes following the acid attack he suffered in January last year.

The class was taken by Boris Akimov who was still able to demonstrate every step and pose but, at almost 70, not with the straight legs we saw with the Australian Ballet’s ballet mistress, Fiona Tonkin, as she taught that company earlier in the day.

The music played for each company’s class on World Ballet Day was intriguing, especially the Bolshoi’s unseen pianist playing Love Me Tender and Tea for Two!

The Royal Ballet’s pianist was more restrained as he played Percy Grainger’s English Country Garden, the Charleston and Offenbach’s Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffmann.

The Bolshoi’s four-hour segment switched between studio and random exterior shots of the Bolshoi Theatre and its passers-by and the rehearsal of Yuri Grigorovich’s 1961 ballet, The Legend of Love, was far too long.

A welcome relief from all the prancing in that ballet (and the sad demeanour of Grigorovich, now 87), came with a rehearsal of Johan Kobborg’s production of La Sylphide, shown on the main stage of the Bolshoi Theatre and coached by Nadezhda Pavlova and Alexander Vetrov.

But the big highlight of the Bolshoi’s day was a rehearsal of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Taming of the Shrew.

Filin looked happy, the dancers looked happy and Maillot was radiating energy while speaking in English and French with so much enthusiasm that the French to Russian interpretation was hardly necessary.

Apologies for the images here – obviously taken from the live streaming.

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Nadezhda Pavlova, Bolshoi Ballet, World Ballet Day

Artem Ovcharenko, Anna Tikhomirova, Artemy Belyakov, Bolshoi Ballet, La Sylphide rehearsal

Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Rodkin in rehearsal, Bolshoi Ballet

Jean-Christophe Maillot rehearsing Taming of the Shrew, Bolshoi Ballet

Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Taming of the Shrew, Bolshoi Ballet

Bernice Coppieters, Sergei Filin, Jean-Christophe Maillot, watching Taming of the Shrew rehearsal, Bolshoi Ballet