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The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia: The Bright Stream at the Met

by Robert Abrams
July 25, 2005
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023

The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia: The Bright Stream at the Met

The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia

The Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center
New York, NY
Alexei Ratmansky, Ballet Artistic Director
Anatoly Iksanov, General Director
Pavel Sorokin, Conductor

Scott Klein, Keith Sherman & Associates Inc. - Public Relations

Robert Abrams
July 25, 2005

The Bright Stream has an intricate plot. Reading the synopsis in the program is advisable or you may miss parts. Here is the short version. A troupe of artists from Moscow visit a collective farm on the steppe for a harvest festival. The Ballerina of the troupe turns out to be an old friend of Zina, the entertainment director off the collective. Pyotr, Zina's husband, is enchanted by The Ballerina. Two old dacha dwellers are enchanted by the Ballerina and her partner. They cause all kinds of mischief later in the ballet. The collective workers and the visitors have an impromptu celebration amidst the sheaves of wheat. The Ballerina later proposes to Zina to play a joke on Pyotr and the dacha dwellers to disabuse their flirtatious advances. The Ballerina will dress up as her male partner, the male partner will dress up as the Ballerina to meet the dacha dweller and Zina will dress up with a mask as The Ballerina to meet her husband. In act two the various couples meet up for their trysts. The joke plays out. The next morning at the harvest festival (complete with giant cucumbers and other produce) The Ballerina and Zina dance together both wearing masks. Finally all is revealed and Pyotr begs Zina's forgiveness for his wandering. Zina forgives him. Everyone dances.

This ballet is a mix of both serious and comic dance. Both are done well. I have chosen to highlight a few dancers I especially liked.

Maria Alexandrova was expressive as The Ballerina. Her rapid raising and lowering of her shoulders in opposition signaled interest. Her head shakes signaled disinterest. In another scene, her partner swung her parallel to the earth at least ten times in a row. She looked like she was flying. She performed great leaps ending with an impressive leap into a man's arms. And again later in the first act, she danced with bold leaps perfectly timed to the music and perfectly parallel to the ground. Her extended hold on one foot en pointe was beautiful. In the second act, when she was dancing as a man, she had an easy way about her as she swung her legs under her body.

Svetlana Lunkina was also a fine dancer dancing the role of Zina. I especially liked her performance in the second act when she was dancing with her husband Pyotr (who thinks he is dancing with The Ballerina). Ms. Lunkina was loose limbed, limber and lovely. She was effective at letting the emotion shine through the attitude of her body. In the first section her passion showed through. In the second section she conveyed anguish with the bend of her shoulders. In the third section she used fast footwork and emphatic arm movements to express anger. Ms. Lunkina was promoted to principal dancer tonight.

Irina Zibrova had excellent comic timing as the Dacha Dweller's Wife. With Alexey Loparevich as the Dacha Dweller, she performed a comic ballroom dance complete with slow aerials, flipped over backward walks, spins and a final intentionally awkward lift. Later on in act two she confirms her comic mastery by walking en pointe with bent knees. She also did an assisted spin en pointe with bent knees. It was funny partly because bent knees are inherently funny and partly because of the way she played her character.

Gennady Yanin as The Accordion Player had a compressed style that paralleled his playing of the accordion. In act two he danced with Ksenia Pchelkina as Galya using excellent, slightly Charleston-esque partnering. The ballet had many references to partner dance, including an exaggerated Tango.

The ensemble did a great job too. In act one there was a group number with acrobatic summersaults, flip aerials and women swinging between two men. I especially liked the interesting sequencing where Zina and the corps formed a line of dancers, each kicking after the other, and then each spinning after the other.

The ballet ended with a beautiful pairing of Zina and the Ballerina, followed by a showy production number with Broadway like raised arms and fingers set against radiant gold lights formed into rays of the sun flashing in the set's backdrop.

All in all it was a very enjoyable, charming and playful ballet with some excellent dancing.

The sumptuous sets were by Boris Messerer. He formed receding columns of harvest produce and wheat that both signified the theme of the ballet while also achieving a level of grand abstraction. The choreography was by Alexei Ratmansky. The tremulous and triumphant music was by Dmitri Shostakovich. The libretto was by Adrian Piotrovsky and Fyodor Lopukhov.

The Bolshoi Ballet performs "Bright Stream"
Photo courtesy of The Bolshoi Ballet

See previous Bolshoi Ballet articles.

  • Extra! Extra! The Bolshoi's in Town! (The Bright Stream) - 8/9/2005 - by Suzana Stankovic. - Article sponsored by Tutus Divine.

  • The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia: The Pharaoh's Daughter at the Met - 7/28/2005 - by Roberta E. Zlokower. - Article sponsored by Freed of London.

  • The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia: The Bright Stream at the Met - 7/25/2005 - by Robert Abrams. - Article sponsored by Tutus Divine.

  • The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia: Spartacus at the Met - 7/22/2005 - by Roberta E. Zlokower. - Article sponsored by Freed of London.

  • The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia: Don Quixote at the Met - 7/18/2005 - by Roberta E. Zlokower. - Article sponsored by Tutus Divine.

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