1. The main surprise of the year is a group of young talented choreographers presented by the Yekaterinburg Ural Ballet. Its long-time leader, Vyacheslav Samodurov, accompanied his farewell to the company with an unscheduled “Dance Artel” evening. In it he did not stage anything himself, but presented, along with the ballet of his successor Maxim Petrov, the choreographic experiments of his artists: Igor Bulytsyn, Konstantin Khlebnikov and Alexander Merkushev. They have different professional experiences and different interests in choreography. But each one has developed his own style and each one can definitely be called a choreographer.
Samodurov himself created the performance Sextus Propertius for the Ural Ballet. Alexey Sysoev, who combined in the score the majestic style of the ancient Roman poet with the mechanical creak of typewriters, helped the choreographer feel a new level of freedom. This performance, in which there are no pauses even for inhalation and exhalation between movements, has become a “Polaroid snapshot” of the twelve-year collaboration between Samodurov and the company he formed.
2. Another result of the outgoing year is the change of directors of two companies that today are rightly considered the driving force of Russian ballet. At the Ural Ballet, Samodurov, who decided to focus on his personal career, was replaced by Maxim Petrov, 30, for whom this is his first experience leading a company. Its first season schedule includes several premieres, including world premieres, but they will premiere in the spring and summer of the new year.
Alexey Miroshnichenko returned to another Ural theater, the Perm Theater, after a three-year hiatus. His Yaroslavna in three acts, based on Russian history and literature, can probably be considered a programmatic statement.
The trend was supported by the largest theaters in Siberia – Krasnoyarsk and Novosibirsk, which recently also changed the direction of ballet.
3. Monumental productions based on eternal values are clearly in great demand today. But the ability to create them was lost long ago. The only exception that appeared this year is Yuri Possokhov’s new “Queen of Spades” at the Bolshoi Theater. The performance, which at first glance seems like an “opera for the feet”, upon closer examination reveals that it is not at all a romantic story about the failed love of Herman and Lisa, but rather a study of the decline of life, performed by the choreographer together with the performers of the role of the old countess, Vyacheslav Lopatin and Denis Savin.
4. Another important event of the year was the exhibition “First Position” at the Manege in St. Petersburg, dedicated to the “anniversary of Russian ballet”, which broke attendance records. Two floors filled with thousands of artifacts from forty museums of Russia – the modest art of dance in our country has never known such a scale of exhibition. In the portraits of the Romanovs’ favorite ballerinas, the intimate albums of Emperor Alexander II, the erotic photographs of ballerinas by Alfred Eberling, ballet, unfortunately, appeared as an analogue of the Fabergé egg: a complex trinket, the development of which was not was driven by ideas, but by the desire to be a pleasure. According to the exhibition, ballet in Russia ended with Boris Eifman, and this is the only phenomenon observed by the organizers outside the two imperial theaters. Another four dozen ballet companies have probably made no contribution to the history of Russian ballet over the last century.
At the same time, the 250th anniversary of the Moscow Academy of Choreography was celebrated so quietly and unnoticed, as if Plisetskaya, Maksimova and Vasiliev, Ananashvili, Malakhov, Ratmansky, Posokhov, Osipova were not proud of it…
5. Among the numerous Russian festivals, “Diaghilev. PS” and “Context. Diana Vishneva” retained their leadership and ability to correspond to the spirit of the times. The Vishneva Festival supports national modern dance almost all year round. The Diaghilev show currently being held in St. Petersburg inspires optimism with its variety of forms: this year there are traditional concerts, the acquaintance of a new world star, the Chinese Xi Xing, and a ballet tour from Samara. At the Sheremetyev Palace, the exhibition “The Judgment of Paris” reminds us that art remains the safest way to breathe better at any time.