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Spartacus at the Bolshoi


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Cast of June 18:

Spartacus Dmitry Belogolovtsev

Crassus Mark Peretokin

Phrygia Anna Antonicheva

Aegina Nadezhda Gracheva

Gladiator Yuri Baranov

Mimes Irina Zibrova, Anastasia Yatsenko, Irina Semirechenskaya, Olga Suvorova, Erika Luzina,

Anna Rebetskaya, Vasily Zhidkov, Roman Simachev, Roman Tselitchev, Alexander Pshenitsyn

Shepherds Andrey Bolotin, Batyr Annadurdyev, Georgy Geraskin, Denis Medvedev, Vladimir

Moiseev, Ilia Ryzhakov, Alexander Petukhov

Shepherdesses Svetlana Gnedova, Irina Serenkova, Maria Prorvich,

Daria Gurevich, Svetlana Pavlova

Courtesans Anna Antropova, Irina Zibrova, Anna Nakhapetova, Irina Semirechenskaya,

Anastasia Yatsenko, Anastasia Meskova, Oksana Tsvetnitskaya

Spartacus is, I believe, an important work in the history of 20th century ballet. It is important because it is one of the few full-length three-act ballets not created in the 19th century. It is singular among those few works, as a ballet whose score was created for it by a contemporary composer, Aram Katchaturian. Moreover, it is significant that the choreographers who tackled it

[Leonid Yakobson for the Kirov in 1956, Igor Moiseev for the Bolshoi in 1958, Leonid Yakobson for the Bolshoi in 1962, and Yuri Grigorovich in 1968 up to the present] brought male dancers to a centrality in performance. both as leading protagonists and as group dancers.

Spartacus remains interesting in performance, because it has four central characters, two women and two men, any one of whom can dominate a performance through the particular dancer's charisma and projection.

In my first view of the complete ballet on Friday night, I felt privileged to see it performed by the company for which it was made, and on the stage for which it was envisioned.


The first-act pas de deux between Antonicheva and Belogolovtsev was wonderfully modulated by the dancers so that even the acrobatic lifts looked somehow serene and musically right. Altogether, their dancing was of impressive quality, accurate and passionate, achieving a mood of calm and inevitability in a world of storm.

The first scene of the second act (The Appian Way) became one of my favorites for the group dances. The dance of the sheperdesses (Gnedova, Serenkova, Prorvich, Gurevich, and Pavlova)

showed off the storehouse of tomorrow's leading dancers. At least they looked to me as such.

Equally impressive were the quartet of shepherds, and especially the trio of men (I believe they were Bolotin, Annardurdyev, and Geraskin; perhaps Inga can help me identify the trio correctly).

All three were exceptional performers.

The second scene of the second act featured the solo of Nadezhda Gracheva' s Aegina, a marvel of fit between dancer and part. Ms Gracheva was riveting in the attack and precision of her dancing. She made the sometimes repetetive and limited pallette of Grigorovich's choreography look stunning.

The male principals, Bogolovtsev as Spartacus and Peretokin as Crassus, showed a contrast in physical demeanor and technique that served to advance the duality of hero and anti-hero,

oppression and state power, they stood for.

Bologolovtsev had speed, good landings, and even though form was not always fulfilled, he portrayed through his aerial work a heroic figure seeking freedom in flight.

Peretokin had a strong physical presence and a big jump and good ballon but not much plasticity.

In his jumps he remained master of the realm, a figure of commanding power. I thought his reading was very convincing.

Aegina's 'seduction' dance in the third scene of the third act (Dissension) seemed to be an audience favorite. Ms Gracheva sketched a character portrait of self-absorbed exhibitionism

that was much appreciated by Friday night's audience.

Altogether, Spartacus remains a very watchable spectacle with very 'meaty' parts for its four principals.

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