Are you interested in theater? I wasn’t. I went with SRAS to the ballet anyway though, thinking I’d at least get my money’s worth out of the study abroad package. Knowing what I know now, I’d gladly go again.
The evening started at Korchma Taras Bulba, a Ukrainian restaurant near Novokuznetskaya metro station, one stop from where the performance would be held at Teatralnaya. Our group shared different Ukrainian and Russian dishes, as many of them were meant to feed more than one person. The food was decent and inexpensive. I probably spent around $10 for a meal and SRAS covered appetizers and drinks. It would be worth noting that Korchma also has locations in Kiev and New York if you are unable to make it to the restaurant in Moscow.
From there we headed to the new stage of the Bolshoi Theater, which is to the left of the historical Bolshoi building if you’re standing in the square and facing the theater. Roxana handed us our tickets and we passed a simple security checkpoint to get in. The new stage building had everything you would expect a classical theater to have. There were marble columns, polished floors, massive mirrors, drapes, crystalline chandeliers, and plush couches. The theater was built to look like a smaller copy of the original Bolshoi next door. On the opposite side of the first floor was a bar, which served drinks and small snacks before the event and during the intermission.
After waiting downstairs for a while, a bell rang to signal that the show was about to begin. Our tickets had us seated on the top tier, so we made our way up the spiral staircase. From there, we found our seats. I ended up on the right side of the theater with two friends while the other three SRAS students and Roxana were sitting across the aisle. The seats were the fold down type that you see in movie theaters, but they were definitely higher quality. I was easily able to see the stage and the rest of the theater as each row of seats was raised higher than and staggered with the row in front of it.
The ballet, titled The Bright Stream (Светлый Ручей), began and the lights dimmed. According to the program, the ballet was written by Dmitri Shostakovich and focused on a troupe of dancers sent to provide entertainment for a Soviet collective farm. It premiered in 1935 and found initial success. However, I later learned from the internet that it was condemned in a 1936 Pravda editorial and then withdrawn from production. However, the Bolshoi brought it back after the fall of the USSR and has been running the show as part of its repertoire for several years now.
The dancers were honestly amazing. They were able to blend comedy and romance together using only their constant motion. I had always thought that ballets would be a series of dances that were lightly tied together by a theme, but this was the complete opposite. The story was paramount and the fluid movements of the characters only enhanced it. There was an intermission half way through, though I think it was more for the actors’ and orchestra’s benefit as I was enthralled and more than willing for it to continue. After the ballet, the entire cast came out on stage for several rounds of applause. The director also made his way onto the stage and was met with flowers and more applause, which finished the performance.
In the future, I’d definitely like to see another Bolshoi production, but maybe something more modern instead of Soviet. Still, the ballet was definitely worth my evening and I don’t regret going. If SRAS gives you the opportunity to attend, take them up on it!
The Bolshoi Theater
A Night Out with SRAS
Tickets typically run $50 and more
Included with SRAS summer 2016 program
Jack Fischer is majoring in Physics with Russian and Economics minors at Iowa State University of Science and Technology in Ames, Iowa. He is studying Russian as a Second Language with SRAS over the summer of 2016 to improve his command of the Russian language. In the future, he’d like to work for himself and run a business. I haven’t decided on a location yet, but I’m certainly open to Russia or the former USSR territories.