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Ballet Review

“The Summer Ballet Seasons 2011” Festival in Moscow
Marina Lukanina

ummer is usually a bit quiet for the Moscow theatres. A lot of the companies go on tour and avid theatre fans have to wait until the fall opening of a new season. Therefore, such events as The Summer Ballet Seasons Festival come just in time to contribute to bustling summer life.

The Festival was originally planned for tourists who visit Moscow in summer. Its purpose was to introduce foreigners to Russian classical ballet. However, the Festival has also became quite popular among Moscow residents, and currently it is an integral part of summer cultural life and has already become a tradition. This year, from June 30 to August 28, prominent classical ballets are performing on the stage of the Russian Academic Youth Theatre (RAMT) for 11th time.

This is the second year the Summer Ballet Seasons have been organized in partnership with the state enterprise MosKonsert with support from the Department of Culture of the city of Moscow. Participants include the Moscow troupes: La Classique Moscow Ballet run by Elik Melikov and the Russian National Ballet Theatre run by Vladimir Moiseev and Evgeny Amosov. For the first time, the festival has opened up their stage to the Russian Classical Ballet troupe headed by Oksana Usacheva.

The Festival program features such world famous ballets as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle and Don Quixote.

Swan Lake was Tchaikovsky’s first ballet and is considered by many to be one of the greatest classical ballets of all time. Although several versions exist, most ballet companies stage the ballet according to the choreography of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov for their St. Petersburg performance of 1895. The first American production was performed by the San Francisco Ballet. Swan Lake is traditionally presented in four acts.

The Nutcracker has been a Christmas holiday tradition for many years. The 1892 premiere failed with both the public and critics. Unfortunately, Tchaikovsky never knew what a huge success the ballet would become, as he died less than a year later. The Sugar Plum Fairy’s dance with the Prince is probably the most famous pas de deux in all ballet. The Nutcracker has many interpretations, resulting in several different plots and character names.

Romeo and Juliet is a ballet by Sergei Prokofiev based on Shakespeare’s tragic love story. Prokofiev composed the music in 1935 or 1936 for the Kirov Ballet. The incredible ballet score has inspired many great choreographers to try their hand at Shakespeare’s story. The ballet consists of four acts and ten scenes, with a total of 52 separate dance numbers. The version most well-known today was first presented in 1940 at the Kirov Theatre in Leningrad, with choreography by Leonid Lavrovsky.

The Sleeping Beauty is widely regarded as Tchaikovsky’s finest ballet score, and has become one of the classical repertoire’s most famous ballets. The premiere performance took place at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1890.

Considered one of the great Romantic ballets, Giselle was first performed in Paris in 1841. Originally choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, the production seen today was choreographed by Marius Petipa for the Imperial Ballet. Giselle revolves around the themes of forest spirits, forces of nature, and death. The second act of the ballet, in which everyone is wearing white, is known as “the white act”.

My personal favorite is Don Quixote, which is based on an episode taken from the famous novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes. The most successful choreography for the ballet was created by Marius Petipa at the height of his career.

It was first presented by the Ballet of the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow, Russia in 1869. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are not heavily involved in the storyline. The ballet’s best dance is a wonderful wedding pas de deux, performed by young lovers Kitri and Basilio. These roles have the best dance of the ballet.

The Festival participants also include foreign ballet troupes that are known both for their artistic interpretations of classical story-lines and for their innovative modern production. This year, which marks the Year of Italy in Russia, with the help the Russian and Italian Ministries of Culture Balleto di Milano, headed by Carlo Pesto, was part of the Festival program. The troupe performed Romeo and Juliet and a choreographic production titled Chanson.

The performances of the Summer Ballet Seasons Festival traditionally take place in the Russian Academic Youth Theatre (RAMT) located in the downtown area of Moscow, at Teatralnaya Square, next to the Bolshoi and Maly theatres, in the beautiful old mansion built in the 19th century.

Each year the theatre’s lobby hosts exhibitions organized within the framework of the Summer Ballet Seasons Festival. This year there is mosaic works of art, which are a part of the exhibition dedicated to the 170th anniversary of the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet.

The Summer Ballet Seasons Festival strives to preserve and promote Russian cultural heritage and introduce to the audience world-famous classical Russian ballet. Over 300,000 people have visited the Festival in the past eleven years.

To find out the repertoire and order tickets please visit

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