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Center named after hero-city: the Leningrad movie theatre becomes a cultural venue with catwalk shows and “audio showers”

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The Lenigrad Center opened today at the Tavricheskiy Garden. Restoration of the legendary panoramic movie theatre lasted for a decade.

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The building itself marks a 100th birthday this year. Modern equipment will make many new ideas come alive. Almost every square meter is equipped with innovative gear. Alexander Odintsov took a tour.

Those who had been to the Lenigrad before its demise would not recognize the previous hall today. That one was keeping up with the times, but the new one steps ahead of them. Right at the door, you feel as if you’ve walked into decorations of an expensive movie. The lobby has a panoramic screen consisting of 99 high-resolution screens – a portal to the world of art.

The new multi-format cultural venue starts its work with the “Illusio” show. The whole world worked on it – namely an international team of choreographers, designers and artists. Eclectics of genres and forms, accompanied by high-tech.

A kinetic chandelier alone is worth a spotlight. 1100 light diods imitate a corridor, Northern Lights and star-lit sky. It has no equal in the world. According to the director, that’s how the whole deep sense of the show can be delivered. 

Felix Mikhailov, director: “A modern spectator is so addicted to pointing into an iPad that unless you have gadgets in front of him, you won’t get to his heart. We explode minds with gadgets and put a human emotion there”

Costumes designed by Alena Akhmadulina, St. Petersburg designers Vladimir Bukhinnik, Polian Raudson and Yulia Kosyak. The latter had an offer from Lady Gaga, but the girl decided to keep her outfits home. Keeping the interest alive, organizers also promise pre-premiere showings. Maybe the excitement in the hall will match that in the cinema hall of the Soviet times.

The first exhibition has been installed here. It tells and shows where the building on Potemkinskaya 4 came from. Back in the days, it was the venue for exhibition pavilion of the Emperor’s gardeners society. During the revolution, a heavy armored unit protecting the Smolnyi was based here. It became a panoramic cinema in the 1960’s – accommodating a thousand spectators and widely considered to be the best in the city. And not only movies were watched here. 

Oksana Bondarenko, curator of the Leningrad Center gallery: “The entire exhibition has been done in accordance with theatre stenography. Even those book stands, related to archived data. There are suggesting clearly that this building hosted a city reading hall”.

Everything is conceptual and multimedial, just as the times. Everything’s designed in a way so that a spectator doesn’t get tired from information.

Alexander Odintsov, reporter: “Here, art is closely connected with high tech and positive way of human living. This is the so-called meditation zone. Guests van relax under such “audio showers”. 6 different voices say the same things. Here we have Nabokov, then Harms – telling about the Tavricheskiy Garden. With an illustration – faded in the sunlight, though – but it’s a cinema after all”

Certainly, the center will not exist just thanks to its rich history. From serious theatre shows to multimedia installations and electronic music parties – the Leningrad Center will become the place of attraction with its high tech. To support the notion, a modern-looking pine tree has emerged at the entrance of the Leningrad Center 

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