Another transmission of The Nutcracker offered by Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse for the festive season, this time a live recorded performance by the Bolshoi Ballet from 2014.  Christmas would not be complete without the enchanting tale of young Marie and her nutcracker prince! Danced by the Bolshoi’s principals, Russian ballet master Yuri Grigorovich’s staging of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s fairy tale will transport children and adults alike to a world of magic and wonder for the holiday season.
On Christmas Eve, Marie’s wooden nutcracker doll is transformed into a beautiful prince who takes her on a magical journey. Before they leave, they must confront the Mouse King, whose army is threatening Marie…

Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Choreography: Yuri Grigorovich
Libretto: Yuri Grigorovich (after E. T. A. Hoffmann and Marius Petipa)

Cast: Denis Rodkin (the Nutcracker Prince), Anna Nikulina (Marie), Andrei Merkuriev (Drosselmeyer), Vitaly Biktimirov (the Mouse King) and the Bolshoi Corps De Ballet

Date:  Sunday 18th December, 3.00pm

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  Book online here or call 0871 902 5736

An opportunity to see the legendary Bolshoi Ballet in live transmission of a ballet rarely seen outside Russia coming up on Sunday 26th October at the Phoenix Picturehouse.  The Legend of Love with music by Arif Melikov and designs by Simon Virsaladze is one of Russian master Yuri Grigorovich’s earliest choreographic works, and returns to the Bolshoi stage after a ten-year absence.

The royal apartments of Queen Mekhmene Banu are plunged into mourning – her young sister, Princess Shireen, is dying. The Princess will only be saved if the Queen gives Shireen her beauty. The Queen decides to sacrifice herself, but later regrets her action when she is disfigured and Shireen falls in love with the Queen’s own lover, the painter Ferkhad.  This splendid tale of forbidden love, self-sacrifice, jealousy and suffering explores the conflict between love and duty through its two heroines.  (more…)

A Christmas treat for ballet-lovers – and in the wake of the recent court case convicting the attackers of director Sergei Filin, a welcome chance to be reminded of the on-stage presence of one of the world’s great ballet companies.  Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse will be retransmitting a 2011 performance by the Bolshoi Ballet of the  The Sleeping Beauty.

Cursed at birth by the evil fairy Carabosse, Princess Aurora descends into a deep slumber on the day of her 16th birthday. Only the kiss of a prince will awaken her.  Based on Charles Perrault’s classic fairy tale, The Sleeping Beauty has been hugely successful since its premiere in 1890. Marius Petipa’s masterpiece set to Tchaikovsky’s majestic score is one of the most popular and accomplished choreographic works in the classical repertoire. This recent version by veteran choreographer Yuri Grigorovich will captivate fairy-tale lovers and the whole family during the Christmas season, and features two of the company’s top principal dancers. (more…)

The Phoenix Picturehouse is offering a season of live ballet transmissions of the Bolshoi Ballet, from the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow.  First up this autumn is the Bolshoi’s acclaimed signature work, Spartacus on Sunday 20th October.  Captured by the Roman army, Spartacus and Phrygia are condemned to slavery. After becoming a gladiator, Spartacus foments a legendary rebellion.  This grandiose epic is one of composer Aram Khachaturian’s most famous works, and has been considered one of the greatest ballets in the Bolshoi repertoire since the 1960s, notably providing two great roles for generations of male dancers, the heroic Spartacus and charismatic villain Crassus.  A production with spectacular choreography and dancing, Yuri Grigorovich’s version remains the most critically acclaimed. (more…)

Yuri Grigorovich’s Romeo and Juliet is a magnificent vehicle to display the powerful technique of the Bolshoi Ballet’s male dancers:   Mikhail Lobukhin’s Tybalt prowls the stage like a panther ranging from side to side, hand raised, fingers stretching upward like a handful of daggers;  Andrei Bolotin plays Mercutio, with the impertinence of a Squirrel Nutkin, as he gate crashes the Capulet party, where all the trouble starts, and later goads Tybalt into the deadly fight that sets in train the final catastrophic sequence of coincidences.   Alexander Volochkov’s Romeo seemed overshadowed in the early scenes until the encounter with Juliet, played with technical virtuosity by Anna Nikulina. (more…)

A rare opportunity to see live transmission of the Bolshoi Ballet in Yuri Grigorovich’s version of one of the most popular ballets in the world, Romeo and Juliet. Based on the play by William Shakespeare, and originally commissioned by the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad in 1934, Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet score did not premiere at the Kirov stage until 1940, and at the Bolshoi until 1946. Indeed, the two companies first refused the theme, then the steps, which ballet dancers declared undanceable, and finally, the music.  Today, this ballet is considered to be one of Prokofiev’s greatest works with its melodic inspiration, rhythmic variety and memorable romantic narrative. (more…)

In 1956, people queued in Covent Garden for three days and nights to buy the 55,000 tickets for the Bolshoi Ballet’s first visit to the West.  Of the thousands that queued for tickets for a further three performances at the Davis Theatre Croydon (capacity 3,500), only about one in four was successful.  Ballet, which had been the elite entertainment of imperial Russia’s privileged classes, had suddenly become the Soviet Union’s most distinctive cultural export.

The survival of ballet in post revolutionary Russia is remarkable in itself.  Challenged by practical problems (lack of food or heat), new proletarian audiences, and intellectual disagreements about the rôle of ballet in the Soviet cultural project, its death seemed inevitable to some.  In spite of its title, this is not a book about the dancers;  it is a book about the environment in which they worked, and the ways in which neither the Kirov or the Bolshoi buckled under the drive for “socialist realism”, which, of course, had little to do with realism. (more…)