Convincing a schoolchild to go to the theater is not an easy task at times. But if you’ve made it, choose a "combo" of a famous literary work and classical ballet art.
Onegin at the Bolshoi
Teenagers today often find it difficult to understand why Pushkin's novel in verse was once called the “encyclopedia of Russian life”. To make it easier to delve into the text of the original source, it is worth visiting the ballet production by the British choreographer John Cranko on the New Stage of the Bolshoi Theater. The audience saw this version of the performance to the music by Tchaikovsky in 2013.
The world premiere of Onegin took place in 1965. It is known that Cranko devoted over 8 years to stage this production: Pushkin's novel was one of his favorite books.
The love story of Tatiana and Onegin is at the heart of the ballet. The three culminating moments on the stage are the letter to Onegin in the first act, the reply of the main character in the second, and the letter from Eugene in the third. This ballet demonstrates a surprisingly deep and tragic love story, one of the most striking in Russian literature, and this, no doubt, is important for the "education of feelings" during the teen years.
Anna Karenina at the Mariinsky
The ballet based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy was staged in St. Petersburg by Alexei Ratmansky in 2010. Over the decade in the theater's repertoire, this production has established itself as a classic.
The audience likes this ballet because it is close to the source material and has luxurious scenery. Besides, it made the term of a "ballet novel" popular among the critics. As in the case of the ballet Onegin, the love story is the main driver of the plot. A train has rightfully become a leitmotif and an important symbol: the production begins with a scene at the railway station and ends with blinding headlights of a speeding train. Throughout the whole ballet, there is a train carriage on stage, it even rotates once in a while.
Ratmansky once said about this production that he didn’t seek to show Tolstoy's philosophy, but he succeeded with the emotions of the characters. The younger audience will definitely find this approach to reading classics more appealing: a tragic story of love and life without Tolstoy’s "moralism".
Romeo and Juliet at the Bolshoi
The country's major theater has two ballets based on Shakespeare's tragedy in their repertoire. For more than four decades, the production by Yuri Grigorovich was given on the Historical Stage. In 2017, the ballet of the same name by Alexei Ratmansky was added. It has settled on the New Stage. An eternal love story told in the language of classical ballet is an excellent opportunity to introduce a typical representative of Generation Z to great art.
Both productions look totally traditional due to their classical choreography, Renaissance costumes and the canonical plot. The music by Sergei Prokofiev is another timeless constant that we would like to acquaint the teenage audience with.
The Stone Flower at the Mariinsky
Yuri Grigorovich's 1957 production, his debut as a choreographer, was resumed on the St. Petersburg ballet stage 5 years ago. The ballet is based on the Tales from the Urals by Pavel Bazhov. Modern schoolchildren may well attribute these stories to the fantasy genre. Initially, the production was created as a drama ballet, which means that the plot twists and turns were as important as the musical accompaniment. Such a ballet is easier to perceive than a plotless performance, so it can be safely recommended even for primary school children.
Vibrant stage costumes made in the shades of different mountain gems, classical ballet choreography and the topics of love and creativity understandable to everyone — these are the traits that make many families of viewers visit this performance for decades.
The Seagull at the Bolshoi
The Bolshoi's recent premiere will appeal to the young audience because of its avant-garde sound and bold characters. Teenagers will easily recognize themselves in Treplev: this character turns out a bit rock-n-roll and hooligan on stage.
The content rating of the performance is 16+, and students study Chekhov's works in senior high school. The historical basis of the performance will also be clear to viewers of this age: choreographer Yuri Posokhov and author of the libretto Alexander Molochnikov brought the action to the era of stagnation in the Soviet Union. By the way, in one of his interviews, Molochnikov formulated the topic of the ballet and the audience that would find it interesting as follows: