Sunday, March 9, 2008

Russia (6)
A Night at the Bolshoi

The premier dance event that I took in while in Russia was the Bolshoi Ballet. The Bolshoi is a large colonnaded building that features an enormous statue of a charioteer driving four wild horses high above the main entrance. The theatre has expansive floor seating and five stories of balconies. The stage is enormous, and the building in its entirety is breathtaking.

Only a small portion of our group went to the Bolshoi. I had never attended a ballet performance before, and knew that the Bolshoi would be a grand place to be initiated into this particular art form. It was time and money well spent. My ticket was less than twenty dollars, and Russian nationals got in cheaper than that in order to encourage participation in the arts and in their national heritage of dance.

My seat was on the third floor balcony directly above the stage. I had an excellent view of the dance, the orchestra, and of the entire theatre. The production for that evening was “Les Sylphides” which had grandiose sets. But it was the dancers who formed the most amazing aspect of the evening. The male dancers, in particular, would leap high into the air and literally defy gravity by their propensity for flight. I remembered a line that Kevin Bacon used in the film, “The Air Up There,” in which he described an African basketball player as having “the hang time of a hot air balloon.” So it was with those flying dancers!

There was what appeared to be a Royal Box at the back of the house on the second story balcony. That evening it housed a couple of prominent Muscovites, whom we learned later were the city’s perpetual mayor, Yury Luzhkov, and his wife. The Luzhkov’s had a grand night at the Bolshoi, and so did one guy from the Missouri Ozarks!

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