The “Ballet within a Ballet”: The Creative Searches of Contemporary Choreographers

Natalia L. Kabachek


By the example of ballet performances of the recent decade: Ilya Demutsky’s “A Hero of Our
Time” at the Bolshoi Theater of Russia (Yuri Posokhov, choreographer; Kirill Serebrennikov,
producer and scenographer, 2015) and Sergei Prokofiev’s “Cinderella” produced by Alexei
Miroshnichenko (the Perm Theater of Opera and Ballet) examination is made of the problematic
aspects of the use of the stage technique of “ballet within a ballet,” as well as their artistic motivation
within the framework of the established traditions of the Russian and the world choreographic
art. The problem lies in the fact that particularly the stage of the Bolshoi Theater of Russia most
frequently became the venue for historical experiments in ballet, and latter, for the reevaluation
of the artistic validity of the Soviet ballets of the first half of the 20th century. The parallels and
differences are shown between the various productions of the ballet “The Nutcracker,” namely,
those by John Neumeier and Graham Murphy, where the main acting protagonist turned out to be
the choreographer – the demiurge and the creator of his own ballet work. By the example of the
Perm Ballet (in its production of “Cinderella”) the artistic misstep is revealed of the transference of
the emotional-poetic content of the ballet score into the social domain, as well as the artificiality of
the parallels between the spiritual worlds of Lermontov’s protagonists with the language of the art of
choreography in the 19th century (“A Hero of our Time”). It is shown that the rich musical content
of Prokofiev’s score and its interpretation by Theodor Kurentzis carries a metaphysical character,
and not a social one, as in the production of Miroshnichenko, and for this reason consciously
impoverishes the chosen conception of the “ballet within a ballet.”

Keywords: The Ballet Theater of Russia, stage motivations, “a ballet within a ballet,” the creative
work of Alexei Miroshnichenko, the creative work of Yuri Posokhov, the theatrical productions of
Kirill Serebrennikov.

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