BALLET / What the critics said: The Bolshoi: a dinosaur with a creaking repertoire or a giant of the traditional classics? Plus listings

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The Independent Culture
The Venue

'The high and praiseworthy hopes of Yuri Grigorovich to bring the entire Bolshoi Ballet to the Royal Albert Hall, to dance for thousands on a specially constructed stage, have been dashed by the physical limitations of the hall and the astronomic seat prices.' Mary Clarke, Guardian.

'Not much would be visible, I guess, from the cheapest seats, which at pounds 25 offer a vertiginous view from far above the rear of the performing area. At pounds 35 you are either way, way up, or on a decent level but behind much of the action.' John Percival, Times.

'Ballet is an art designed for a proscenium arch. It is framed, shaped, focused by our view through that magic opening. And choreography and dance interpretation are orientated to the stage's confines, are created for a head-on view by an audience and are conceived as having a central point of interest. In Sunday's performance, the choreography was dispersed as if by the gales blowing outside the hall.' Clement Crisp, Financial Times.

The Suites

'Characterisation is impossible; atmosphere cannot be established; the lighting is bizarre. It all does a terrible disservice to the choreography. As the evening progressed, I was almost weeping for the Bolshoi I know and love, heartbroken that newcomers would judge its real merits from these displays.' Mary Clarke, Guardian.

'Appealing to new audiences is an avowed aim of the whole venture, but potted action, in which characters lack introduction and motivation is never established, is not the best way of arousing enduring interest in ballet as a theatrical art.' Kathrine Sorley Walker, Telegraph.

'So what idea do Yuri Grigorovich's 'suites' from different ballets give of the original works? Not much, I think. In the case of Swan Lake he offers just Act 3 of his own idiosyncratic production. This is a set of show- off dances with, towards the end, some dramatic incidents fairly meaningless out of context.' John Percival, Times.

'They danced - and we believed in the drama, and the dance. But to know these qualities at their truest we need to see the troupe involved in whole ballets, in the theatrical surroundings for which they were intended.' Clement Crisp, FT.

The Dancers

'The dancers are predominantly in their 20s and 30s, athletically exciting, admirably trained and with plenty of virtuoso strength, even if they show few signs of charismatic personality or memorable acting ability.' Kathrine Sorley Walker, Telegraph.

'The rewards - and I suppose the management's justification - of these performances lie in the fact of the Bolshoi's power as a dance troupe. Certainly the ensemble looks strong, youthful, and audiences can say they have 'seen the Bolshoi'. Physically, yes. Artistically, I am less than certain . . . Few of the interpretations I saw on Sunday night could triumph over the surroundings.' Clement Crisp, FT.

(Photographs omitted)

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