November’s LIVE shows at the Wellesley Cinema begin with the Royal Ballet’s production of ‘Anastasia’, Kenneth MacMillian’s exploration of identity in the turbulent wake of the Russian Revolution. This is the first revival since 2004.
The ballet was inspired by the true story of Anna Anderson, who believed herself to be Anastasia, youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and the only survivor from the assassination of the Romanovs in 1918.
In the ballet the woman who claims to be Anastasia is incarcerated in an asylum. Memory and fantasy intermingle; she recalls her rescue, the death of her husband, the disappearance of her child and her attempted suicide. But, despite her nightmares, her faith in her own identity cannot be shaken but MacMillian’s interpretation – created in 1967 – leaves the audience to decide for themselves the legitimacy of Anna’s claims.
This production features the Royal Ballet’s finest stars – Natalia Osipova whose performance is reviewed as ‘magnetic’, Marianela Nunez, Edward Watson and Federico Bonelli.
The Bolshoi’s production of ‘The Bright Stream’ follows on Sunday 6 November. Set to music by Shostakovich the ballet was banned shortly after its premier in 1935, the composer fell far from favour with Stalin’s communist regime, the co-liberettist, Adrain Piotrovsky, was sent to a gulag and never seen again and the choreographer, Fedor Lopukhov, had his career terminated.
Yet ‘The Bright Stream’ is said to be very funny. Set in a small village in the North Caucasus on the Bright Stream kolhoz – or collective farm – it explores the villagers’ rural pleasures and relationships with a group of visiting performers during the harvest festival. It features a hairy-chested sylph, a milkmaid at work on a two-man cow and a dog riding a bicycle. Given the humour and the range of roles for dancers to exploit, it is not surprising that its revival in 2003 was an instant hit both in Russia and with dance companies around the world.
It is not often that ballet can make audiences laugh out loud but this one does!
Advance booking from www.wellesleycinema.co.uk
Wednesday 2 November at 7.15pm ‘Anastasia’ The Royal Ballet
Sunday 6 November at 3.00pm ‘The Bright Stream’ Bolshoi Ballet