"Le Corsaire", "La Bayadere", "Don Quixote"
July 30 to August 15, 2007
by John Percival
copyright ©2007 by John Percival
Here's a surprise: a London season of the Bolshoi Ballet presented by the Hochhauser management without a single "Swan Lake" -- unprecedented and most welcome. The three-week season contained three premieres. At the time of writing we still await new productions by Christopher Wheeldon and Twyla Tharp, but the run opened triumphantly with the new version of "Le Corsaire" premiered only a few weeks earlier. (Why, I wonder, does this get known under a French title when the original inspiration was an English poem by Lord Byron?) You've probably heard that artistic director Alexei Ratmansky, aided by ballet master Yuri Burlaka, relied upon the archives at Harvard University to restore more than we usually see of Petipa's authentic old choreography and has filled that in with pastiche which I found attractively convincing. He also restored the intended running order, which helps make a more logical story than usual - although some of our critics said they couldn't follow it. Even after cutting out long mime scenes, the show runs to almost three and a half hours, but doesn't feel too long to me.