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Note #1 Almaty State Ballet


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Greetings to all ballet admirers! :) I am delighted to finally start telling the world about my much beloved Almaty State Ballet.

To those, who happen to remember that I joined this wonderful site about two months ago, promising to start writing about Almaty State Ballet from Kazakhstan, and didn't write much since then I would like to say that every time I'd get on this site, I'd find SO MANY MOST INTERESTING discussion going on, news shared, opinions expressed! So, instead of writing about Almaty State Ballet, I found myself completely taken by reading through the forums and discussions about all kinds of things - ballet, opera, theaters, books, articles, etc. It's always been very interesting, yet quite energy taking :), so I didn't have any energy left by the end of each 'reading session' to force myself to come up wtih something to write. Still, no time was wasted for me - I was familiarzing myself with zillions of exciting things going on in the ballet world in lots of different countries.

Also, during that 'time off' that i took, I've happened to hear the story (or a legend?) of how the Almaty Opera and Ballet Theater has begun its existence. I've learned that story during one of those little post-performance celebrations with ballerinas and dancers - from one of the oldest dancers of our Ballet.

Here is what I've learned and what I'd like to share: back in those terrible years of 1937-1938, known for Stalin's terror in the country, one of the Kazakh singers Kulyash Bai-Seitova was invited to Moscow to perform in Kremlin in front of 'tovarish' ("comarade") Stalin and other Communist leaders. Kazakhstan back then was a remote provincial part of th Soviet Union, very little developed art- (and economy) wise, but very blessed with brilliantly gifted, talented singers and dancers coming from all the small towns and tiny villages in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Stalin was impressed with a beautiful silverbell-like clear voice of Kulyash Bai-Seitova and asked her if there was an Opera Theater in Alma-Ata. When he'd learned that there was no theater in that remote Central Asian republic, belonging to his 'empire', the 'Almighty One' had ordered to immediately build a new Opera and Ballet Theater in Alma-Ata, so those brilliant singers would have a stage, worthy of their talents, to perform on - for Soviet people.

And, voila'! Efforts of the best Soviet architects were attracted to create a big and beautiful Opera and Ballet Theater in Almaty - in late 1930's. So, classic opera and ballet art was supported by Stalin (along with the terror all over the country - what a bizzar twist of history!).

I would like to brag that the stage of Almaty Opera and Ballet Theater is about 10-15% wider and bigger thant the stage of Mariinsky Theater, which I visited in July 2002 - to see and enjoy Cosi' Fan Tutte opera. Also, we have very comfortable soft arm-chairs, vs. those narrow and hard ancient chairs in Mariinsky (a bit of info, not really related to ballet, but I just couldn't resist to brag! :)

So, that was the part I would title "How Almaty State Opera and Ballet Theater was beginning. Pre-history of Almaty State Ballet".

In the next part I'll be telling about the actual 'birth' of classic ballet in Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan - which culture and traditions were as far from classic ballet as Alma-Ata was from Moscow (take a few minutes to look up the map! :)

Again, the presence of a lucky chance brought on the wave of tragic events - divine and worshipped Galina Ulanova was brought to Alma-Ata during the World War II in 1940's, and she had made her great invaluable contribution to the history of our ballet - the ballet of Kazakhstan.

To be continued very soon!

A presto, Marianna :)

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I would like to thank Estelle and Victoria Leigh for their kind words of support AND for the interest in the subject :). It was the most touching and inspiring experience for me to read your replies!

(And I do appreciate Victoria's kind words about my English - I happen to work at the Medical Unit of the US Embassy in Almaty; I am lucky to be the only Russian-speaker in the office, which is usually staffed by an American doctor and American (or European/Canadian) nurse(s). So I've got the advantage of learning English daily - it is a best language school one could desire AND they even pay me for that! Lucky me :)

With your support and inspiration I am feeling that the idea of familiarizing the ballet world with the Almaty State Ballet is well worth it. THANK YOU AGAIN!

More to follow!

A presto, Marianna

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Oh Gosh! I can't believe I missed this post! I hope Marianna still visits this forum. I am also from Almaty and reading about my beloved Theater of Opera and Ballet brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy Marianna took the initiative to write about Almaty ballet. Thank you so very much!

I sometimes brows the site to see what performances are scheduled and get jealous - there is no strong ballet company where I live now. BIG SAIGH. I hope one day I will be able to visit my home town and see a ballet at the theater once again.

P.S. If you visited the theater recently: did they keep the beautiful frescos on the sealing?

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