A little about Big Culture… with Olga Balakleets
The Russian Ballet Icons Gala, London Coliseum
The annual Russian Ballet Icons Gala 2017 “In the Steps of the Ballets Russes” (this year’s title) was held on Sunday 12 March, 2017 at London Coliseum to celebrate the glittering legacy of the legendary Ballets Russes.
Much-loved favorites from the heady days of Diaghilev such as The Firebird, The Scheherazade, Le Spectre de la Rose, Petrushka, L’après-midi d’un Faune, The Sleeping Beauty and others were complemented by contemporary works from choreographers David Dawson, Alastair Marriott, Gerald Arpino, Jean-Christophe Maillot — paying homage to the spirit of innovation and creativity that were such a hallmark of the great Russian impresario. The programme with the live accompaniment by the English National Ballet Philharmonic Orchestra also featured the world premiere of the exciting new work Theatrum Vitae by dazzling German choreographer Xenia Wiest with the libretto by Rafael Porzycki.
In addition to international ballet stars and principals of the major ballet companies (Bolshoi, Mariinsky, Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Ballet of Monte Carlo, Vienna and Berlin State Operas, National Ballet of Canada, New York City Ballet) there was a unique appearance in The Fairy Doll by final year students of the legendary Vaganova Academy with a shining Eleanor Sevenard, a great granddaughter of Matilda Kshesinskaya.
London’s annual “Russian Ballet Icons” Gala, first held in 2006 and organised by Ensemble Productions, is now firmly established as a highlight of the international ballet calendar. Every year a dazzling programme pays tribute to the wonderful traditions of the Russian ballet school and its legendary soloists who have been inspiring dancers and ballet lovers since the early nineteenth century.
“Revolution. Russian Art 1917 – 1932”, Royal Academy of Arts, London
One hundred years on from the Russian Revolution, this powerful exhibition explores one of the most momentous periods in modern world history through the lens of its groundbreaking art. Renowned artists including Kandinsky, Malevich, Chagall and Rodchenko were among those to live through the fateful events of 1917, which ended centuries of Tsarist rule and shook Russian society to its foundations.
Amidst the tumult, the arts thrived as debates swirled over what form a new “people’s” art should take. But the optimism was not to last: by the end of 1932, Stalin’s brutal suppression had drawn the curtain down on creative freedom. Taking inspiration from a remarkable exhibition shown in Russia just before Stalin’s clampdown, this exhibition marks the historic centenary by focusing on the 15- year period between 1917 and 1932 when possibilities initially seemed limitless and Russian art flourished across every medium. This far-ranging exhibition — for the first time — surveys the entire artistic landscape of post-Revolutionary Russia, encompassing Kandinsky’s boldly innovative compositions, the dynamic abstractions of Malevich and the Suprematists, and the emergence of Socialist Realism, which would come to define Communist art as the only style accepted by the regime.
It also includes photography, sculpture, filmmaking by pioneers such as Eisenstein, and evocative propaganda posters from what was a golden era for graphic design. The human experience will be brought to life with a full-scale recreation of an apartment designed for communal living, and with everyday objects ranging from ration coupons and textiles to brilliantly original Soviet porcelain.