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View Count: 74 |  Publish Date: June 11, 2013
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Bolshoi's collective high jinks

Queensland Ballet artistic director Lee Cunxin leads local dancers and four from the Bolshoi. Photo: Natalie Bochenski
Reviewer rating:
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Bolshoi Ballets first Brisbane production, Le Corsaire, was everything you would expect from the worlds most famous dance company.
Flawless technique, a grandiose love story, sumptuous costumes, extravagant sets, beautiful music.
It was what you expect when you hear the name “Bolshoi”, and it didnt disappoint.
Bolshoi principal dancers Vladislav Lantratov and Ekaterina Shipulina. Photo: Natalie Bochenski
But The Bright Stream, the second production of the Bolshois exclusive Brisbane season, is the real gem. Advertisement
With dancing farmers, cross-dressing high jinks and even a cycling dog, it is a truly joyful comic ballet.
Its tragic back story makes it even more intriguing. Written as a tribute to Soviet collectivism, it wound up angering Stalin after its 1935 debut and was banned.
Composer Dmitri Shostakovich and choreographer Fedor Lopukhov suffered professional censure, while co-librettist Adrian Piotrovsky was arrested by the secret police and shot in 1937.
Resurrected by choreographer Alexei Ratmansky in 2003, it shows that while the politburo didnt have a sense of humour, Russias artists certainly did.
In fact, the phrase “Ballet Falsehood” – the headline from state-controlled newspaper Pravda that brought on The Bright Streams ban – is one of a number of Russian phrases painted on a beautiful scrim that greets audiences at the start of the performance.
Tractors and biplanes traverse the back of the richly coloured country set, as the Bright Stream collective farm gets ready to celebrate the harvest. Zina, the entertainment organiser, is upset when her husband, Pyotr, becomes keen on her beautiful friend the Ballerina.
The Ballerina assures Zina she is not interested in Pyotr – or an old dacha (holiday house) dweller who has taken a fancy to her, to the chagrin of his wife. They come up with a cross-dressing plot that is Shakespearean in its construction.
The second half is set mostly in the woods, where the lecherous dacha dweller tries to win over the tutu-clad male dancer, while his hilarious vain wife gropes the trousered Ballerina, and Zina dons a disguise and convinces her husband she is the Ballerina.
Audiences lapped up the cheeky physicality of these routines like cats on a cream pie.
There is much to be admired about a perfectly executed pratfall on pointe – and a farmhand who dresses up like a dog and rides a bike.
Maria Alexandrova was beauty in motion as the Ballerina, a sparkling counterpart to Nina Kaptsovas sweet Zina. However, Ruslan Skvortsov stole the show as the male ballet dancer who dragged-up to toy with Alexei Loparevichs old man.
With his hairy chest on display and messily tied ballet slippers-with-socks combo, he had the crowd roaring. His pointe work was exquisite – its always wonderful to see male dancers on the usually female-only hard shoes.
Anastasia Vinokur was also a delight as “anxious to be younger than she is dacha dweller”. The very particular phrase is apt; Vinokur struggles comically on pointe, and her intentionally sloppy routines with Loparevich were just charming.
The ballet concludes with Zina and the Ballerina dancing together, and the revelation to Pyotr that hes been tricked. He begs his wifes forgiveness, and all is restored to normal, with a parade of huge vegetables heralding the harvest celebration.
The original choreography was never notated, so this production is restored from Lopukhovs storyline, and incorporates threads of traditional Russian dances and Cossack moves.
One can imagine how much joy it would have brought to Russian theatregoers in the drab days of the 1930s.
But you can also understand the subversiveness underneath its light-heartedness. Stalin and co wanted to control lives and prioritise work; The Bright Stream worships love and mischief.
Ballets such as Le Corsaire are majestic and even a little distant. It is the kind of ballet that gives ballet the reputation it has, as an elite art form.
The Bright Stream, however, proves that the form can be democratic – or even, dare I say, communal.

Keywords:
 art   ballerina   Ballet   ban   Bolshoi   bright   dance   dancer   male   stream   Bright Stream   Zina 

Picture Keywords
 art   ballerina   Ballet   ban   Bolshoi   bright   dance   dancer   male   stream   Bright Stream   Zina 
Time: 3:59  |  News Code: 273264  |  Site: brisbanetimes
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