International Ballet Competition in Moscow – Warning Signs – Part I

Dear Readers:

Today I have this piece for you, from Lenta.Ru, about the International Competition of Ballet and Choreography.  The contest is held every 4 years at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, and Number XIII just completed a couple of days ago.  The author of the Lenta review, Anna Gordeeva, feels that the results of the hootenanny show a few disturbing trends and even signs of decay in Russian ballet.

International ballet itself, in its strict classical form, is alive and well, thanks to generations of professionals who have kept the flame alive.  Gordeeva entitled her piece Горит восток зарею новой, which is the first line of Chapter 3 of the long poem “Poltava” by Alexander Pushkin.  It means “The East lights up like a new dawn.”  Pushkin is writing about the epic battle between two armies, with rockets firing and all hell breaking loose.  Which seems a world distant from the stark lines and ethereal beauty of classical ballet.  (Unless one listens to the garish backroom stories of some ballet insiders.)

The Battle of Poltava: Classical ballet can also be brutal.

In Gordeeva’s metaphor, star ballet dancers from Japan are flocking to Russia to learn classical ballet, and starting to win most of the prizes.  And on the flip side, Russian dancers are migrating in droves to theaters in Asia and Europe.  The Russian ballet world is a giant international hive, and the hive is a-buzz!

Koya Okawa and Midori Terada

The concern for Gordeeva is that the Russian ballet theater itself is not the great institution that it used to be.  The marketing material for the competition noted excitedly:   One of the most important events in the world of ballet is held this the year under the 90th anniversary of the outstanding contemporary choreographer, artistic director of the competition Yuri Grigorovich. Moscow Ballet Competition – 2017 precedes the “Year of Russian ballet and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Marius Petipa”.   Despite this great buzz, the results of the competition seem to show, according to Gordeeva, that the Russian theater is living through a period of slow decay, beset by many problems.  And that the torch of classical culture seems to be moving, inexorably, to the East!

With that brief intro, in the next couple of days we will work our way through Gordeeva’s piece and try to determine if her concerns are warranted!

[to be continued]

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