06 December — 28 February 2015
Rarely seen original designs, photographs and costumes from Dmitri Shostakovich's 1931 ballet ‘The Bolt’ are on display together for the first time in this colourful exhibition. Curated by Elena Sudakova, Alexandra Chiriac and Elena Grushvitskaya, the exhibition is organised in collaboration with the St Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music.
Works covered by immunity from seizure are listed in this document.
06 December — 28 February 2015
Suggested donation £5
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Curated by Elena Sudakova, Alexandra Chiriac and Elena Grushvitskaya
Exhibition design by Calum Storrie and Katya Sivers
Photographs by Tim Roberts
The Bolt, written in 1931, was probably the last Constructivist ballet, closing an era of unparalleled innovation in Soviet dance and performance. Bold designs by Tatiana Bruni and Georgii Korshikov, experimental choreography by Fedor Lopukhov, a gripping story of industrial sabotage written by Victor Smirnov and a vivid musical score by Dmitri Shostakovich made this extraordinary production a threat to the Soviet authorities. Its first ever performance at the Leningrad Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in April 1931 met with a violent backlash from critics and The Bolt was promptly pulled off the programme. It was 74 years before it saw the stage again, reconstructed by the Bolshoi Ballet. The exhibition brings the neglected story of this tumultuous production to life through a selection of costume designs, period photographs and original costumes.
The ballet tells of the exploits of Lenka Gulba (‘Lazy Idler’ in Russian), an indolent worker who persuades Goshka, a gullible young boy, to sabotage the production of the local factory by throwing a bolt into a machine. A typical cast of Soviet protagonists and antagonists populates ‘The Bolt’, from the upstanding Komsomol members to the villainous hooligans led by Lenka to the factory clerk Kozelkov, a wannabe city slicker. In this industrial production, which featured machine-inspired choreography, Shostakovich embellished the story with aerobics and acrobatics, with several passages mimicking the swishing and hammering sounds of modern factory machinery.
GRAD’s display feature the witty and grotesque costume designs by Tatiana Bruni bringing to life the characters that populate the ballet: from the Textile-Worker and the Typist, to the Drunkard, the Job-Hopper and the pompous Bureaucrat. Featuring striking geometrical colour blocking, Bruni’s designs were inspired by the aesthetics of agit-theatre and ROSTA windows or artist-designed propaganda posters. Shostakovich’s mischievous blend of proletarian and vaudeville music genres play through the gallery space, catapulting the viewer to early 1930s Russia and evoking Fedor Lopukhov’s daring choreography. Constructivist values and aesthetics are reflected in all of the elements of the ballet, from the costume designs to the score, choreography to set design.
That ‘The Bolt’ was produced in 1931 is significant. Visual art and literature were on the cusp of monumental change in Soviet Russia, after a series of political and artistic revolutions had changed the course of modernist art and modern history. The critical rejection of the ballet can be understood within the context of a progression toward Socialist Realism, and the suppression of the vanguard imagination, accelerated by the 1932 issue of the ‘Decree on the Reconstruction of Literary and Artistic Organisations’, a measure designed to curtail artistic independence. The satirical characters and acid comedy of ‘The Bolt’ stand as a bastion of an experimental spirit, which demonstrated an extraordinary edge and robustness.
Our events take a turn for the musical this winter. Keep checking for updates on our exciting January and February programme.
A Tale of Two Cities: the Lopukhov family and Russian ballet
15 January 2015
6.30pm - 7.30pm
Join us for a talk by dance specialist Judith Mackrell exploring the lives of Bolt’s choreographer Fedor Lopukhov and his sister the Ballets Russes star Lydia Lopokova. Although both were a product of St Petersburg's Imperial Ballet School, Fedor and Lydia parted ways at an early age. He stayed on in post-Revolutionary Leningrad becoming an influential choreographer despite several run-ins with the regime. She settled in London with John Maynard Keynes and adjusted to life with the Bloomsbury group, having once been the baby star of Diaghilev's company.
Judith Mackrell is a prominent dance critic, writing first for the Independent and currently for the Guardian. Her biography of the Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, Bloomsbury Ballerina, was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award. Her recent book Flappers examines the lives of six notable jazz age women, from Josephine Baker to Zelda Fitzgerald. Judith has appeared on television and radio, and writes widely on dance, as well as having co-authored The Oxford Dictionary of Dance.
Launch of Early Chekhov Translation Project
09 December 2014
GRAD was delighted to host the launch of the Anton Chekhov Foundation's latest project which aims to translate all of Chekhov's early short stories. Actors from the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance brought some drama to the evening with three comic interludes based on the playwright's early short stories.
Photographer Raj Yagnik for the Anton Chekhov Foundation
Bolt: Opening Night
05 December 2014
Guests from London and St Petersburg braved the cold to attend Bolt's opening night and enjoy a talk by Rosamund Bartlett and a specially commissioned performance by artist Paul Kindersley.