In July 2014, the Bolshoi Ballet premiered a new ballet, The Taming of the Shrew (La Mégère Apprivoisée), created specifically for the Company by Jean-Christophe Maillot, Choreographer-Director of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. It was wildly successful, with all performances in Moscow – and subsequently in Monte-Carlo – sold out. It also won three Golden Mask Awards in 2015 – for best ballet, and for each of its two principal dancers – and now, cinema audiences around the world have an opportunity see this fabulous ballet screened live from the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow on January 24th.
This production of The Taming of the Shrew marks the first time, since his appointment to the Monte-Carlo Company in 1993, that Jean-Christophe Maillot has choreographed a ballet for any other company. It is also the first time that a foreign choreographer has been invited to create a full-length work for the dancers of the Bolshoi, however J-CH Maillot and Sergei Filin – Director of the Bolshoi Ballet – share a close friendship, having worked together on a number of artistic projects in recent years.
For the artists of the Bolshoi, Maillot wanted to create a ballet which would highlight their theatrical skills, as well as the brilliant dancing for which they’re renowned. This, he realised, would require a work with a strong narrative theme, and for his inspiration he turned to the greatest playwright in the English language, William Shakespeare – selecting the battle of wills between the flamboyant Petruchio and the quarrelsome Katherina on which to base his creation.
For four months, Maillot worked with these remarkable Russian artists, coaching them in his own particular style. He created the role of Katherina on Ekaterina Krysanova – which she describes as “the most memorable experience” of her career – and that of Petruchio on Vladislav Lantratov. Olga Smirnova is Bianca, Semyon Chudin Lucentio and Anna Tikhomirova dances the role of The Housekeeper.
Sergei Filin is justifiably proud of his Company. “The dancers are incredible,” he says. “Jean-Christophe loved them and treated us to a magnificent ballet in return.”
The Taming of the Shrew is set to music by Dmitri Shostakovich, which he initially composed for the cinema, and it ends on a light-hearted note with Tahiti Trot, the composer’s 1927 orchestration of Vincent Youmans’ Tea for Two, from the musical No No Nanette. The Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra is conducted by Igor Dronov who has been involved with the Bolshoi for over 20 years, leading operas and orchestral performances, as well as ballets. Currently Professor of Conducting at the Moscow Conservatory, Maestro Dronov is also guest conductor of a number of other Russian ensembles, including the Russian National Orchestra.
For this production – described as “sumptuous” by The Telegraph – Jean-Christophe Maillot enlisted the creative skills of a team of artists with whom he’s worked on a number of productions. Assistant choreographer is Bernice Coppieters – former prima ballerina of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. Staging is by Jean Rouaud – a French writer who won the Prix Goncourt in 1990 for his novel Fields of Glory – set design is by Ernest Pignon-Ernest, and lighting by Dominique Drillot. Costumes – and there are some fascinating creations – are by Augustin Maillot, marking the first time that he has designed for one of his father’s ballets.
This live performance of the Bolshoi Ballet’s highly acclaimed production The Taming of the Shrew is brought to cinemas worldwide by Pathé Live and By Experience! To find your nearest cinema, and to check performance times, visit www.BolshoiBalletinCinema.com. Tickets can be bought via this website, as well as from all participating theatres.
This preview clip features the dancers talking about their roles, and footage from rehearsals and a performance.