Leave your tears in Moscow

The Bolshoi Ballet brings something old, something new and its own orchestra

Adrienne Baker

In Russian, “Bolshoi” means big. The return of the Bolshoi Ballet to Northrop Auditorium on Oct. 22 is an event that out-sizes many dance performances of the past.

The Russian ballet company, in a display of true versatility, is bringing not only two distinctly different productions to the University, they are also returning with a full orchestra. The Bolshoi Orchestra is one of Russia’s oldest and largest ensembles.

It is very rare for a company to travel with its own musicians.

“I’m not aware of a large ballet company bringing their orchestra here in the past,” Dale Schatzlein, director of the Northrop Dance Series, said.

The ballet company, which has been troubled in the past few years with financial and political stresses, is re-emerging with two pieces: “Don Quixote” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

Drawing its inspiration from Miguel de Cervantes, the Bolshoi’s 135-year-old production of “Don Quixiote” celebrates the tradition of the ballet company incorporating a tremendous amount of period costumes in a three-act ballet. This famous piece is said to be a true spectacle and nearly operatic in grandeur.

Guided by British theater director Declan Donnellan and modern choreographer Radu Poklitaru, the classic staging of “Romeo and Juliet” pirouettes into a new realm of dance. Using the traditional Sergei Prokofiev score, Donnellan and Polklitaru discard pointe shoes and tutus for clothes representative of today’s street fashion. The changes mold a classic piece of dance into a passionate display of movement with very few conventional turns.

“If you’re really a classical person they have something that’s right up your alley and if you’re not they have something very contemporary as well,” said Schatzlein.

In 2002, the Bolshoi Ballet had repeatedly sold out performances at Northrop Auditorium. The four Bolshoi performances of two landmark ballets are guaranteed to make an impression this homecoming weekend.