June 7, 2017

Arguably the greatest ballet company in the world, the Bolshoi Ballet is unrivaled in its rich history as one of the oldest and most prestigious schools of classical ballet in the world and its international acclaim as one of the foremost ballet companies. That reputation bore itself  out on Sunday June 4, in Jamaica at Palace Cineplex with the encore performance of A Hero of Our Time, captured live from the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, and made available to select cinemas.

 

The result of an exceptional partnership between choreographer Yuri Possokhov and theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov, this delightful ballet closes the Bolshoi’s 2016-17 season at Palace Cineplex.

It was the Bolshoi’s artistic director of ballet, Sergei Filin, who suggested that Possokhov and Serebrennikov should work together on a new ballet. Unhesitatingly, Serebrennikov, suggested a “A Hero of Our Time”, one of his favourite books. But however much one might love a book, not everyone is capable of bringing it alive in ballet. “I find it surprising no one thought of doing it before”, says Serebrennikov, “it is a quintessentially poetical and inwardly musical work. And where there is poetry there is ballet.”

The short stories about the military officer and Byronic antihero Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin, are told through travellers’ notes and journals, detailing his adventures during his travels through the Caucasus, a region at the border of Europe and Asia, between the Black and the Caspian seas.

According to the Byronic tradition, Pechorin is a character of contradiction. He is both sensitive and cynical, quite arrogant but also very aware of his own character and traits. He is a philanderer, nihilistic and epitomises the melancholy of the romantic hero who broods about futility of existence and the certainty of death. The name Pechorin is drawn from that of the Pechora River, in the far north, as a homage to Aleksandr Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, named after the Onega River.

Three of the five novellas which make up the novel, have been chosen for the ballet — Bela, Taman, Princess Mary. And in each one of these three parts in the ballet, Pechorin is quite different. He is changed by circumstance, age, the way in which he is presented — in Bela he is seen through the eyes of another character, while in Taman and Princess Mary, he “speaks” for himself, via the chapters of his diary. In all these different guises, there can be no question of Pechorin being an integrated character.

The Bolshoi Theatre dedicated the production to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov, the great Russian poet, which was celebrated at the end of 2014.

Encore performances of The Bolshoi Ballet captured live from Moscow, are shown exclusively at Palace Cineplex in Kingston.

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