3 Significant Regional Ballet Theaters

3 Significant Regional Ballet Theaters

The importance of the State Academic Bolshoi Theater of Russia for ballet is difficult to overestimate. But there are other smaller theaters in the country that are interesting in their own way. Today we will tell you about those that are worth remembering for everyone who want to broaden their horizons.

Ural Opera Ballet in Yekaterinburg

The Yekaterinburg ballet company is over a hundred years old and it has always been in good repute. Yuri Grigorovich, Leonid Yakobson, Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasiliev staged here. A new rise occurred in 2011, when the ballet company was headed by Vyacheslav Samodurov. The former principal dancer of the Mariinsky Theater, the National Ballet of the Netherlands and the Royal Ballet of Great Britain, he, unexpectedly for many, took over the leadership of the Ural troupe. The choreographer and the theater have already won several Golden Masks and produced a few new performances with the original choreography: Tsvetodelika to the music of Tchaikovsky, Pärt and Poulenc, Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, etc. Besides, he has carefully selected dancers for the troupe.

Preservation of the 19th century classics, performance of the 20th century neoclassical works, and creation of original works - this is how the Ural Ballet sees its repertoire. It gives performances choreographed by our contemporaries- Hans van Manen, Paul Lightfoot, Sol León - and at the same time reconstructs Petipa's ballets.

This theater is so welcomed in Moscow that one-act ballets that didn’t make it to the capital due to coronavirus restrictions last year will be shown at the Golden Mask festival this spring. It is no coincidence that the team has recently changed its name. They say that the Yekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theater is no longer relevant, the theater is now “Russian and multicultural”.

Perm Opera and Ballet Theater named after P.I. Tchaikovsky

Almost no Golden Mask, the major Russian theatrical competition, is complete without this troupe. The Perm Theater was founded in 1870, when Glinka's opera A Life for the Tsar was performed in the city. And the birthday of the local ballet is February 2, 1926. During World War II, the Mariinsky (Kirov) theater and the Leningrad choreographic school were successfully evacuated to Perm (then the city was called Molotov). As an inheritance, Perm got its own school and "Perm style of dance". The city has been considered the third choreographic capital since the 1970s.

The next heyday of the troupe came in the 2010s. From 2011 to 2019, the theater was headed by Teodor Currentzis, while the ballet was directed by Alexei Miroshnichenko. The St. Petersburg choreographer reshaped the classics: his Scheherazade was about the widow of the last Iranian Shah Farah Pahlavi, he introduced Nikita Khrushchev and Yekaterina Furtseva in Cinderella, he produced ballets of the Diaghilev repertoire - which is absolutely logical for Perm, where the impresario studied at school. Many of these works can be seen in the theater today. Until recently, one had to go to Perm to watch ballets by Balanchine and Robbins, Kylián and Forsythe. Currently, this option is not available for financial reasons. However, the new head of the ballet troupe, Anton Pimonov (he is called one of the most advanced young choreographers in Russia) promises to restore part of the "western" repertoire after the borders are opened and do something new. Let's not forget about the Diaghilev Festival and the Arabesque Ballet Competition - two more reasons to visit Perm.

NOVAT (Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater)

And Novosibirsk is worth a visit for its unique theater building alone, it was constructed between 1931 and 1941. The large constructivist building was designed as a theater within the House of Science and Culture, in the course of construction the project was redone and "decorated" in the fashion of the time to reflect the spirit of Roman classics. The House of Science and Culture idea was abandoned, but in 1937 the new project received the Grand Prix at the World Architectural Exhibition in Paris.

The theater was almost completed by the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941), but it opened only in 1945, although the building was utilized throughout the war - the evacuated collections of many Russian museums, including the Tretyakov Gallery and the palaces-museums of Pavlovsk and Tsarskoye Selo, were kept on the huge premises of the unfinished theater.

In 2001-2008 and 2011-2015, the theater director was Boris Mezdrich, whose name is associated with competent management decisions and the rapid development of the theater. Teodor Currentzis worked here as the chief conductor from 2004 to 2011; the ballet company was headed by the world star Igor Zelensky from 2006 to 2016. In the first half of the 2000s, the troupe was known for the reconstructions by Sergei Vikharev; with the arrival of Zelensky, they produced Balanchine ballets that remain in the repertoire still (the dancer himself once worked with the Balanchine New York City Ballet), the works by the American modernist Twyla Tharp, classics “restaged” by Zelensky himself.

After Zelensky left, this excellent ballet company can’t find a stable artistic director: for example, at the beginning of this year, the famous ballerina Nina Ananiashvili almost managed to become its leader, but the story ended in three days. The theater canceled the contract with the future head, allegedly because of the information about the appointment that leaked to the press ahead of time.

Now, at NOVAT, one can see ballets by the Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato, who is loved in Russia, Balanchine's Jewels and reconstructed performances from different periods of the theater's history, often with invited “stars”, such as Ivan Vasiliev, soloist of the Mikhailovsky Theater.