Paris Ballet breaks 20-year silence in Russia

Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:34am EST
 
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By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya

MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - Russia's famed Bolshoi Theater will host the Paris Opera Ballet on Friday for the first time since the fall of communism, producing four neo-classical works from the second half of the 20th century.

Though global ballet giants Russia and France have shared ideas and choreography for centuries, the Paris Opera Ballet had shied away from Moscow as the Bolshoi underwent a controversial grand $1-billion rebuild.

"Over the past decade, it was mostly the Bolshoi traveling to Paris," said Bolshoi general director Anatoly Iksanov, adding that they went three times to the French capital in the last 10 years.

The Bolshoi's main stage closed in 2005 and was meant to reopen in 2008. However, the eight-columned, cream-colored ballet and opera house is now expected to be completed in October 2011.

Officials are still investigating allegations that millions of roubles destined for the renovation of the main stage were stolen, claims that have embarrassed Russia's cultural authorities.

That means performances must take place on the much smaller, cramped stage in the adjacent building.

The Paris Opera Ballet said it chose productions that would specifically suit a smaller stage, its artistic director Brigitte Lefevre told Reuters.

"The works we picked are more intimate to suit the New Stage of the Bolshoi," Lefevre said before a final dress rehearsal at the Bolshoi on Thursday.   Continued...

 
<p>The Paris Opera Ballet rehearse on the stage of the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow February 9, 2011. Russia's famed Bolshoi Theater will host the Paris Opera Ballet on Friday for the first time since the fall of communism, producing four neo-classical works from the second half of the 20th century. Picture taken February 9, 2011. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin</p>