This is how we do it at the Bolshoi Theatre: Dance mania at any time of the year!


Not only is this the case of having to develop, as Artistic Director of the ballet troupe, Makhar Vaziev believes (it would be strange if he thought differently), the point is, according to his deep conviction, being one of the best performers of the classical repertoire in the world, the Bolshoi Ballet has all the necessary qualities to maximize its realisation in contemporary choreography as well. It could also go beyond the pieces that have already become modern classic. The most interesting for an artist, and it is not a revelation either, is to directly participate in the process of creating an opus which is being born here and now and is sculpted in their image. In other words, not only should the Bolshoi master new choreography but also create it.

The premiere of this programme was originally planned to take place in March 2020: the pandemic forced it to be postponed. However, in September 2020, when life started steadily coming back to normal, the Bolshoi Ballet prepared four world premieres at lighting speed and opened its new season with them. At the troupe meeting before the start of the following season, Mr Vazijev called this case unprecedented and expressed his deep gratitude to the team, which became the hope for the revival and the moral support for the entire ballet world. The programme, named Four Characters in Search of a Plot, gathered four choreographers, who were mainly just starting to gain momentum and whose main unifying feature was that they all came from abroad. That eccentric debut quickly replaced the postponed programme which was supposed to be distinguished by a high level of “sustainability”, required more time to comprehend and had (and has) a similar but completely the opposite defining feature: all choreographers of the current project are of domestic origin. (In addition, they come from the classical ballet school which makes it visible, no matter what choreographic ideas they are fond of). Apart from that, they are totally different and, if one tries hard, they can be attributed to three different generations.

The performing career of Anton Pimonov took shape at the Mariinsky Theatre with a strong focus on the contemporary repertoire. He very soon felt a taste for writing, began to stage outside the Mariinsky Theatre, then at the Mariinsky by participating in “youth workshops”, and beyond St Petersburg. He was soon noticed and word quickly spread. Five years after he had started, he had a staging at the Bolshoi Theatre – in 2018, in the framework of the project A Play for Him. For three years he was a deputy to Vyacheslav Samodurov, Artistic Director of the Ural Ballet and headed the ballet troupe of the Perm Opera in 2021. In the current programme, his ballet is distinguished by having, if not the most intriguing, then certainly the most “provocative” title: Mr. Pimonov, a person from the side, dared to demonstrate the iconic, brand style of the Bolshoi Theatre, since Made in Bolshoi will soon be on the playbill next to his name!

As for the direction of the chorographical thinking of Mr. Pimonov, he is an adherent of the classics (or neoclassic), a great admirer and researcher of the works by George Balanchine. He is convinced that classical language will never become obsolete and can be used forever to “write” more and more new works. He has little interest in the intricacies of the plot lines and in this he is also a consistent “Balanchinist”: the very existence of a man and a woman on stage is perceived as a driving force for the plot. He was extremely glad to be enriching the list of the Bolshoi by including the music by another splendid St. Petersburg composer – Anatoly Korolyov, with which he is in love and which, he has no doubts, will make a great impression on the viewers of his ballet.

Artemy Belyakov – flesh and blood of the Bolshoi Theatre, a so-called danseur noble, a principal of noble, blue blood, who found fame not only as an artist and technical virtuoso but as an intellectual, bookworm and philanthropist. He took any opportunity the Bolshoi gave to its artists who wished to try themselves as choreographers. He also participated in the Dance Platform by the Ural Ballet. In 2018 Makhar Vazijev offered him to stage a number for the gala concert Night at the Bolshoi dedicated to the end of the Football World Cup. But in the framework of the current programme, he 'ordered' a staging of Les Saisons by A. Glazunov. This way the young choreographer faced an additional task: to work with the music not chosen by him which had already been 'burdened' by history: these Les Saisons were brought to the ballet stage by Marius Petipa who endowed them with all the attributes befitting the Imperial Ballet. Having heard this music in various interpretations, Mr. Belyakov managed to renounce "Bacchus and Zephyrs” and find such philosophical depth touching the very foundations of the universe, which made him also renounce the original libretto. The new libretto, which reflects his thoughts and feelings was written for him by his colleague and wife, first soloist of the Bolshoi Ballet and the only holder of PhD in History of Arts in the troupe, Daria Khokhlova.

Vyacheslav Samodurov is the most famous figure in this project. He has a rich performing past: principal positions at the world’s major ballet companies – the Mariinsky Theatre, the Dutch National Ballet and the Royal Ballet in Covent Garden. For over a decade he has headed the ballet troupe of the Ekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre (now, not without his participation, succinctly called the Ural Opera Ballet Theatre), which he brought to the forefront, for which (amongst others) he creates new ballets with enviable constancy both full-length and one-act, narrative and abstract, and with the same consistency he receives the Golden Masks awards for them. Having become a renowned master himself, he cares about his colleagues – young choreographers – for whom, to provide them with practice, he founded a special Dance Platform at the Ekaterinburg Theatre, a kind of festival-review of choreographic searches and discoveries. He was noted for his staging at the Bolshoi Theatre at the dawn of his ballet master career – in 2006, having created a number which was shown to a close circle of audience in the framework of the workshop for young choreographers (continuity, which is essential in ballet is obvious here as well). Ten year later, the Bolshoi Theatre invited him to stage a full-length ballet (Ondine by Henze). Dancemania will become his third opus in the near future.

Mr. Samodurov is sure that in modern times the accent of the audience’s attention has shifted greatly: people come to ballet performances not to observe its aesthetic qualities, but for the energy boost. This is what he is giving them in his new opus, having infected the auditorium, as well as the artists involved in this ballet, with “dance mania”. (The audience interested in expanding their outlook as much as possible can read about the long and curious prehistory of Dancemania in the premiere booklet). Thanks to this production, the music by the wonderful St Petersburg composer, Yuri Krasavin, who was commissioned to write it by the Bolshoi, will be heard here once again (Vyacheslav Samodurov characterizes this music as 'high-voltage' and with a great sense of humour). It is a curious coincidence (if only it is not that very “special case of regularity”): just over twenty years ago at the Bolshoi, a ballet based on the canvases by the famous surrealist Rene Magritte was staged to the music of Krasavin, which was quite energetically charged and also with a sense of humour, and the ballet was called Magrittomania!

Leading dancers of the Bolshoi Ballet will participate in the premiere shows on the 7th-10th: Made in BolshoiLes SaisonsDancemania.