March 29, 2015

Bolshoi in Hong Kong

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I'm lucky to have friends around me who love performing arts, and they always manage to take time out to book tickets for sought-after shows.  Last year my friend Ninja booked tickets for us to go see Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch's production of Iphigenia in Tauris.  I was so, so grateful that she remembered how much I enjoy Pina Bausch's work... then I proceeded to do a complete fuckup when I got the showtime confused, and organized a weekend eating trip to Macau.  Not only did I deprive myself of a great performance, I also ended up making Ninja go watch the show on her own.

This year Ninja and I kinda coordinated early, and she picked up tickets to a bunch of shows.  Most interesting among them were the two shows by The Bolshoi Ballet.  Yes, I can count the number of times I've seen ballet on one hand, and this would be the perfect opportunity to get more exposure.

As Ninja was supposed to be out of town for business on the day The Flames of Paris was showing, she very kindly ceded her ticket to me so that Hello Kitty could come see the show with me.  We also ran into ILove Lubutin and the Great One at the performance...

Honestly, I wasn't a fan of this production.  I know there was a story that was being told here, but I just didn't think ballet was the right medium for that story.  From the very beginning of Scene 1 when the Marseillais appeared on stage, their movements just looked completely silly and laughable to me - and it kinda set the tone for the rest of the performance.  The soldiers were practically crawling across the floor, which

Maybe I was suffering from food coma, or maybe I was just tired... but I actually fell asleep through the first half of Scene 2.  I really tried to stay awake, but to no avail.  I knew the soloist dancing the role of Mireille de Poitiers was doing a good job, but I saw too little of her performance.

I managed to wake up during intermission, and in any case the music for Act 2 was much more energetic, as was the dancing itself.  Much more interesting, this second act, but the story also got a little gruesome.  We ended with the guillotine, forchrissake...

A few days later, I finally got to watch the second show with Ninja.  Jewels was much more up my alley.  It didn't have a story to tell, but rather, it was simply choreographed by George Balanchine around three different musical pieces.  To me, what this meant was that the focal point was squarely on the dance movements themselves, and I really paid attention to the purity and beauty of movement.

I took an immediate liking to Emerald.  The costumes were beautiful and the elegant, graceful movements were perfect for the music.  Nina Kaptsova turned in a beautiful performance, and I think this was my favorite part.

Ruby was set to Stravinsky, and much more upbeat and energetic.  For some reason, a particular move towards the beginning brought to mind the last dance in the movie Center Stage, where Amanda Schull was also dressed in red and was dancing to Jamiroquai's Canned Heat.  I liked this part, although I thought Ekaterina Shipulina was too stiff and her movement control wasn't precise enough.  Anastasia Stashkevich put in a stunning performance.

When the curtain lifted to reveal Diamonds, the crowd let out a very audible collective sigh - presumably at the sight of a line of white tutus glistening with rhinestones.  While Ekaterina Krysanova was good, she was deliberately slow in some parts, putting her out of sync with the corps de ballet.  As Ninja complained after the show, the whole beauty of Diamonds is the impeccable synchronization of the movements.  When your principal dancer chooses to set herself apart, the magic is destroyed.

We were surprised to run into my friend David Lai, a.k.a. The Man in the White Tee who, incidentally, "dressed up" in a sweater and wasn't actually in a white T-shirt...  It was good to see him, especially outside of his restaurants!

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