Monday, September 14, 2015

The Underdog: A Look at the History of the Bolshoi Ballet

About a week ago, one of my friends found out she was selected to participate in a summer intensive for the Bolshoi Ballet. As such, I started looking into the history of the Bolshoi, and found out that it has a very tumultuous beginning.

Originally a dance company for orphans, the Bolshoi Ballet company was officially founded in Moscow in 1776 by Prince Pyotr Urusov. They operated out of various private venues and eventually the Petrovsky Theatre, until the Bolshoi Theatre was built.

The Bolshoi Theatre
The company was, for quite a long time, unable to pull in the donors that they needed to stay afloat because of the Mariinsky Ballet (the Imperial Russian Ballet), based out of St. Petersburg. The Mariisnky had an unrivaled reputation in Russia when the Bolshoi was founded, and they were backed by the court of Catherine the Great. As such, the Bolshoi struggled to survive in the highly competitive world of ballet.

However, the Bolshoi's story does not end like this. After the appointment of Aleksandr Gorsky as Ballet Master in 1900, the company started to develop it's unique style of bold and athletic ballets, which combine complex technical aspects and bright colors. Today, the Bolshoi Ballet is world-renowned as one of the greatest and most influential ballet companies to ever exist.

Below is a short video in which some of the Bolshoi's principal ballerinas speak about their roles in the ballet Giselle, and how emotion and technique must be employed to execute these grandiose performances.

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