Feast of Bolshoi Ballet movies

A moment from the Bolshoi’s Le Corsaire.

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BY BILLY SUTER

THE three-act Le Corsaire (The Pirate), featuring a libretto based on the poem The Corsair by Lord Byron, will be the second of eight Bolshoi Ballet movies, filmed live on stage in Moscow, to be shown at Cinema Nouveau cinemas in South Africa.

In Durban, performances will be at the large Ster-Kinekor complex in Gateway, Umhlanga. Other venues showing the films are Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank, Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront and Brooklyn.

Scheduled for screening from December 2, Le Corsaire is set in a bustling market, where pirate Conrad falls in love at first sight with the beautiful Medora, the ward of the slave merchant Lankedem’s bazaar. Conrad kidnaps Medora when Lanquedem decides to sell her to the Pasha.

The film runs for three hours and 35 minutes, with an interval of 15 minutes.

The festive season favourite, Tchaikovsky’s sparkling The Nutcracker, will be shown from December 23. It runs for 135 minutes, with an interval of 15 minutes.

The Nutcracker will be screened at Cinema Nouveau from December 23

The setting is Christmas Eve where, at midnight, a wooden nutcracker belonging to a young girl called Marie comes to life and transforms into a prince. Soon joined by her other toys that have also come to life, Marie and her prince embark on a dreamy unforgettable adventure.

The Lady of the Camellias, to be seen from February 3 next year, runs for three hours and five minutes, with an interval of 15 minutes.

The ballet sees Alexandre Dumas’s novel come to life on the Bolshoi stage, with Svetlana Zakharova as the ailing Marguerite, seeking love and redemption from her life as a courtesan.

The Bolshoi is said to bring choreographer John Neumeier’s work of rare beauty and tragic depth to new emotional heights, accompanied by Chopin’s romantic piano score.

As he arrives in Paris for the first time, the young and naive Armand is utterly captivated after meeting the ravishing and most desirable courtesan, Marguerite Gautier. Their encounter gives birth to a passionate, yet doomed love…

A new production of the classic Romeo and Juliet will be shown at Cinema Nouveau cinemas from March 3.

Alexei Ratmansky, former artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, stages the company’s premiere of his production with dramatic urgency and a fresh re-telling of Shakespeare’s beloved classic.

His detailed adaptation, set to Prokofiev’s romantic and cinematic score, is said to reignite the story of literature’s most celebrated lovers like no other classical ballet choreographer today.

In Verona, Romeo and Juliet fall madly in love. However, their respective families, the Montagues and the Capulets, are caught in a bitter rivalry ending in heart-wrenching tragedy.

Romeo and Juliet run for two hours and 30 minutes, with an interval of 15 minutes.

Giselle, to be shown from April 14, is a romantic ballet in two acts. It sees Prima ballerina, Svetlana Zakharova alongside Sergei Polunin as Albrecht.

Running for two hours and 20 minutes, it has been described as a chilling, yet luminous ballet that has captivated audiences for more than 150 years at the Bolshoi.

A highlight from the 135-minute The Flames of Paris, a full-length ballet in four acts.

When Giselle learns that her beloved Albrecht is promised to another woman, she dies of a broken heart in his arms. While Albrecht grieves, she returns from the dead as a Wili, a vengeful spirit meant to make unfaithful men dance until death…

Scheduled for screening from May 5 is the 135-minute The Flames of Paris, a full-length ballet in four acts, based on songs of the French Revolution.

It has been said that very few ballets can properly depict the Bolshoi’s overflowing energy and fiery passion as can Alexei Ratmansky’s captivating revival of Vasily Vainonen’s The Flames of Paris.

With powerful virtuosity and some of the most stunning pas de deux, the Bolshoi Ballet displays an exuberance almost too enormous for the Moscow stage.

In the era of the French Revolution, Jeanne and her brother Jérôme leave Marseille for Paris in support of the revolutionary effort that is taking over the capital. While fighting for freedom, they both encounter love along the way…

The popular Coppélia will close the season. It will be shown from August 4 next year.

The Bolshoi’s unique version of Coppélia, running for two hours and 45 minutes, is said to exhibit a fascinating reconstruction of the original 19th century choreography of this ebullient comedy involving a feisty heroine, a boyish fiancée with a wandering eye, and an old dollmaker.

A scene from Coppélia.

The company’s corps de ballet reportedly shines in the divertissements and famous “dance of the hours”, and its principals abound in youthful energy and irresistible humour.

Swanhilda notices her fiancée Franz is infatuated with the beautiful Coppélia who sits reading on her balcony each day. Nearly breaking up the two sweethearts, Coppélia is not what she seems and Swanhilda decides to teach Franz a lesson…

Founded in 1776 on a decree of Empress Catherine II, Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet is one of the most prestigious companies across the globe, boasting some of today’s most acclaimed dancers – such as principals Svetlana Zakharova and Olga Smirnova.

On top of its rich repertoire renowned for its timeless classics (among which is Swan Lake, created at the Bolshoi itself in 1877), the Russian company never stops surprising audiences and innovating by inviting contemporary choreographers such as John Neumeier, Jean-Christophe Maillot, or artists from the Nederlands Danse Theatre.

With powerful virtuosity and some of the most stunning pas de deux, the Bolshoi Ballet is said to display an exuberance almost too enormous for the Moscow stage in The Flames of Paris.

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