Scintillating Russian ballet concert ends Year of Russia in India

December 6th, 2008 - 1:13 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 6 (IANS) A spectacular laser show and a gala concert by the Stars of the Russian Ballet brought the curtains down Friday evening on the Year of Russia in India, a first-of-its-kind cultural synergy after 20 years. The concert featuring the best of classical Russian ballet theatre received a standing ovation from the packed house at the Siri Fort Auditorium in south Delhi.

The closing ceremony was attended by President Pratibha Patil and visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The eight-month cultural exchange programme to consolidate ties between the two countries, which share long historical and political links, was flagged off Feb 12 at Old Fort here by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and chairman of the Russian Federation Victor A. Zubkov.

Addressing the closing ceremony, Patil said the cultural synergy between India and Russia was significant because the two countries were strategic partners.

“It is happening after two decades. The Year of Russia showcased arts, tradition, fashion, cinema, music and even the circus of the country. Russia’s participation in the Delhi Book Fair as the guest of honour also brought people in India close to Russian literature,” she said.

Patil announced that 2009 would be celebrated as the Year of India in Russia.

Russian President Medvedev said India was on top of the priority list of Russian foreign policy and since both the nations were future-oriented, the large cultural capacities could help the two “go ahead together”.

The Star of Russian Ballet, a show divided into separate acts, featured 13 dancers who performed nine cantos.

The acts included “Grand pas and Diana Acteon from Esmeralda”, “Spring Waters”, “Gopak from Taras Balba”, “Pas de Deux” from the “Talisman”, “The Illusory Ball”, “Tarantella”, “Adagio” from “Spartacus”, “Dying Swan” and “Grand pas” from Don Quixote.

The dancers were overwhelmed with the spontaneous response from the audience.

“The Indian audience is so warm. I loved performing here,” prize-winning solo dancer Marat Shemiunov of the Mikhailovsky Threate, who performed an act from “Spartacus”, told IANS.

Shemiunov, a native of St. Petersburg, has been dancing since he was 15. He loves Indian dance and plans to return to see the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Konark Temple in Orissa.

The history of ballet in Russia goes back to the 17th century when Peter the Great invited dancers from France and Italy to train Russian performers. Jean Baptiste Lande was one of the first instructors who brought his students to perform ballet for Empress Anna. The empress opened the country’s first ballet school in 1738. Since then, ballet as a performing art is almost synonymous with Russia.

“It is an integral part of Russian tradition and the government encourages it. However, the economic downturn after the disintegration of the USSR has taken its toll on ballet - and things are gradually changing,” said soloist Uyalna Lopatkina of the Mariinsky Theatre and laureate of the state prize of Russia.

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