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Dialogue of cultures. The “Dyagilev P.S” festival opens with “Torobaka” ballet


One of the biggest cultural events of our country, which helps creative and cultural exchange between Russia and other countries, kicked off last weekend.


The 6th international festival “Dyagilev P.S.” opened with “Torobaka” ballet on the stage of the Bolshoi Dramatic Theatre. Concerts, master classes, exhibits and scientific conferences will take place in the 10 days of the event. Our reporter Alexandra Lee went to the festival’s opening ceremony.

- I ask you to remember the victims with a minute of silence.

Having barely recovered from the October 31st tragedy, St. Petersburg took the news of Paris attacks with sorrow. However, the 6th international festival “Dyagilev P.S.” went on as scheduled.

Organizers had doubts until the last moment whether they’d be able to bring those two – and a dozen more – artist from Europe here. Just yesterday rumors were circulating of flights to Russia being suspended. The duet of the leading choreographers of the modern times – Spaniard Israel Galvan and Britton Akram Khan – brought their “Torobaka” ballet to open the season of the BDT. 

The ballet premiered in Europe last year – in London. But Spanish, Italian and Indian motives – used in the play – sound particularly tragic for a Russian ear today.

Authors, who are also performers in this case, claim that they have “celebrated the triumph of life to make enemies angry” with their dance. 

Their characters are Toro, which means a bull, and Baka – which means a cow. They made the name for the show. But in this dialogue, they are not members of the same fauna, they are from two different worlds, two different ethnic cultures. One the one hand, we have expressive flamenco danced by a Spaniard. On the other – classic kathak dance performed by a Brittish Bengali.

Irina Ivanova, spectator: “90 minutes went by quickly – like in a different dimension”

Dmitriy Orlov, spectator: “Honestly, didn’t catch the sense, but they dance very well. Excellent choreography, well done to the performers”

One of the festival’s honored guests – who’s possible failure to arrive was a particular concern for the organizers – already gave his thoughts on the spectacle. French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, the ever-present mastermind of the festival, was awarded the “Surprise Me” award this year. Although he confessed that he himself was surprised during the play a few times.

Angelin Preljocaj, choreographer: “This spectacle is particularly important today, after the tragic events in Paris. We were given a lesson of how civilizations can hold a dialogue, not kill each other” 

Critics have already dubbed this duet “a duel” – red circle in the middle of the stage transforms into a ring. But after the show, artists are joking – Israel’s character found a boyfriend in this circle. On a serious note, nobody opted for interpretations of this ballet show, leaving the viewers to decide. 

Akram Khan, choreographer: “The idea of the circle came from two cultures. Spanish arena for toreadors. And Hindu mythology, where everything operates in circles – every beginning is the end of something else, where every end is the beginning of something new”

And this new beginning – following the play – will be demonstrated at Eyfman’s academy today by the Bengali choreographer. He’s holding a master class there. 

On the new stage of Alexandrinka, Angelin Preljocaj will present a film about himself, directed by Olivier Assayas. There will also be exhibitions, concerts, a scientific conference, opera and, most certainly, ballet within the next week at the festival stages.

Natalya Metelitsa, artistic director of international festival “Dyagilev P.S.”: “When some look at the others in a hostile way, it’s very important for us to unite – spectators, artists, creators and organizers. It’s important to talk about all civilizations do have a common language – that of culture”