Bolshoi Ballet - 'The Bright Stream'

The Bolshoi Ballet are currently visiting Covent Garden, and on Friday evening I saw them perform The Bright Stream. Like the film I reviewed on July 4th, The General Line, it is set on a collective farm: unlike the film, which is realistic and serious, the ballet is a piece of enjoyable fluff. Think La Fille Mal Gardée on a collective farm and you will get the general atmosphere.

The Bright Stream, with music by Shostakovich and choreography by Fyodor Lopkhov, was originally performed in 1935. It was initially popular, but then was criticised in Pravda for not being realistic (of course it isn't, any more than the impossibly clean farm workers in Fille are realistic) - if it had treated the subject seriously that would probably have been wrong, too.

Inevitably the ballet ceased to be performed, and indeed the choreography has been lost: the present production dates from 2003 with new choreography by Alexei Ratmansky. The plot, such as it is, is about the revenge of a farm girl (Anastasia Yatsenko) whose husband (Yuri Klevtsov) takes too much interest in a visiting ballerina (Ekaterina Shipulina) - the girl disguises herself as the ballerina with predictable results. There are several sub-plots, involving a male dancer (Ruslan Skvortsov) in ballerina costume (splendid burlesque here, and a nod to Giselle), a ballerina dressed as a man (and doing a convincing male solo), a dancer dressed as a dog, and a pas-de-deux with a bicycle.

It's all good robust fun, the mostly comic choreography well and energetically performed by the company to the lively and attractive score (some of which is familiar as Shostakovich borrowed from some of his earlier works). Nice to see that the Bolshoi, best known for the serious dramatic ballets, can do broad comedy so well.

Posted: Mon - August 14, 2006 at 08:51 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM