Why is Russian Ballet so different from “normal” ballet?


Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to see the Bolshoi in London for many performances – Spartacus, The Pharaoh’s Daughter, La Bayadere, and Le Corsaire among them. And I’ve been kind of … surprised by how different Russian ballet seems to American (and now English) ballet. The dancers seem … more … showy. Perhaps even egotistical. Everything is very over the top. Now, I LOVE the shameless overindulgence and all, but it’s been kind of hard for me to put a finger on what makes it so very different.

Fortunately, a wonderful article has appeared in the New York Times this week explaining why Russian ballet is such a completely different experience from American/English ballet. It’s not just the noisy audiences or the endless rounds of applause – it’s the very way a ballerina will push her body a little further to emphasize her technical brilliance – at the expense of the production of actual art. It’s really well written (even though I don’t know ballet well enough to follow some of his descriptions) and really good reading.

For those who follow this blog, this week we’re off to see Ballet Black at the Linbury, Carlos Acosta at the Coliseum, and Wayne Macgregor at Sadlers Wells. April is really a dance heavy month, but I can’t really apologize for it – there are two shows I’d like to see (The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Punch and Judy) conflict with nearly everything else I’m doing … but who knows, maybe I can squeeze another show or two in somewhere.

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3 Responses to “Why is Russian Ballet so different from “normal” ballet?”

  1. Review – Tribute to Diaghilev – “International Stars” and Royal Ballet members at Royal Opera House « Life in the Cheap Seats – Webcowgirl’s London theatre reviews Says:

    […] to go Fa Lun Gung and leave me sneaking out the back between sets? I couldn’t tell, but since I love flashy Russian ballet and flashy Russian dancers (and really wanted to flesh out some more of my Diaghilev knowledge – so much that I’ve […]

  2. giamedia3 Says:

    Dancers from companies like the Bolshoi and Mariinsky actually dance! We have gone so deep in the US with neo-classical dance and Balanchine that everything is a step on every beat. The difference lately seems to be that the audiences demand more and more tricks instead of appreciating the grace, elegance and drama of real classical ballet. The Russians still keep a balance. Best example of the difference is the fiasco of the San Francisco Ballet’s new version of the Nutcracker. Horribly emotionally disconnected. The dancers are technically perfect yet the choreography takes you nowhere. I was completely bored. Then go back and watch any ballet danced by Nureyev. Perfect example is Romeo and Juliet with Dame Fonteyn. So emotiona, dramatic and lyrical. They breath innocence and connection with each other. There is genuine love there. It is a performance. I don’t know about you, but I miss that on stage these days.

  3. blogger Says:

    hey i am looking at this for a project!!!

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