The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!
Actually, they're already here: Moscow's famous Bolshoi Ballet has arrived in NYC for more than two weeks of performances.
"Bolshoi" literally translates to "big"—which is perfect, because this company doesn't do anything small. They've brought three huge productions with them to the Big Apple: classics Swan Lake and Don Quixote, and an over-the-top man-candy festival known as Spartacus.
It's a chance for New Yorkers to see ginormous stars, especially the world-renowned Svetlana Zakharova.
Zakharova being her usual unreal self in Don Quixote (photo by Gene Schiavone)
We'll also finally witness Zakharova's much-talked-about partnership with David Hallberg, the American Ballet Theatre star who's made the Bolshoi his second home.
High drama: Hallberg and Zakharova in Swan Lake (photo by Damir Yusupov)
And we'll get a good look at up-and-comers like gorgeous Olga Smirnova, who at just 22 has already earned thousands of rabidly devoted fans.
Classical perfection: Smirnova in "Diamonds" from Jewels (photo by Damir Yusupov)
Time for some real talk: The past couple of years haven't been so great for the Bolshoi. Early in 2013, director Sergei Filin was attacked by a masked man who threw acid on his face, leaving Filin nearly blind. The resulting investigation revealed a lot of disturbing—sometimes downright scary—information about Bolshoi politics.
But Filin, who after many surgeries has regained some of his eyesight, is back at the Bolshoi's helm. (He was even a judge at the Youth America Grand Prix finals this spring.) And it's a good sign that most of the press the group has been getting recently concerns dancing, rather than scandal. Here's hoping that the company's ugliest moments are past—so we can get back to obsessing about its truly fantastic artists.
The Bolshoi Ballet performs through July 27 at Lincoln Center. Click here to learn more!
Bolshoi Ballet director Sergei Filin was attacked near his home last night by a masked man who threw acid on Filin's face. The director is suffering from third-degree burns that will require extensive plastic surgery, and sources from the company say that he may also lose his eyesight.
Some are speculating that the attack on Filin is linked to company politics, particularly his casting decisions. For those of us hearing the news in the U.S., that sounds as surreal as it does terrifying. But internal affairs at the Bolshoi are notoriously turbulent, and because the company is so fiercely loved by its Moscow patrons, stakes are high. Infighting is common and vicious. (If you'd like to find out more about the conflicts rumored to have spurred this attack, the New York Times and Washington Post have good summaries.) Last night's incident was apparently preceded by a series of scary threats to Filin, including harassing phone calls and tire slashing.
Reports are that Filin is about to be flown to Brussels to receive treatment at a special burn clinic. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. And we hope, too, that the ballet world will someday be as beautiful behind the scenes as it is onstage.