‘The Bright Stream’ at Palace Cine­plex on Sun­day

Jamaica Gleaner - - TWIST -

The Alka-Vybz party is back at Gee Wee, across from Up Park Camp. SFC Crew Pro­mo­tion, in as­so­ci­a­tion with Charmaine and Soupy, present Bub­ble Gal a Bub­ble, lun­cheon and af­ter party at Echo Night Club, Port­land. Menu: ox­tail, cur­ried goat, cow head, tripe and bean, fried and bar­be­qued chicken, es­cov­itched and steamed fish and stewed pork. $700 for ox­tail and fish, $500 for other meals.

BILLED AS a comedic bal­let, Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Bright Stream is a phe­nom­e­non among the genre. The play­ful plot cen­tres around a troupe of bal­let dancers sent to pro­vide so­phis­ti­cated en­ter­tain­ment to a new Soviet col­lec­tive farm. Af­ter some in­tri­cate and amorous ma­noeu­vrings, it turns out that the hon­est coun­try bump­kins have more to teach the city folk than the other way around.

Iron­i­cally, while Shostakovich be­lieved his ground­break­ing cre­ation would de­light the supreme leader, Joseph Stalin, the re­ac­tion was quite the op­po­site. It re­sulted in a mem­ber of the cre­ative team be­ing sent to the Gu­lag, a forced labour camp sys­tem set up dur­ing the Stalin era.

The Bright Stream will be shown at the Palace Cine­plex on Sun­day, start­ing at 11:30 a.m.

Shostakovich wrote a trio of full-length bal­let scores be­tween 1929 and 1935; The Golden Age (shown re­cently at Palace Cine­plex), The Bolt and The Bright Stream (also known as The Limpid Stream). All three works fell short of the ap­proval of the Soviet au­thor­i­ties and were banned soon af­ter their re­spec­tive pre­mieres. As a re­sult, the com­poser suf­fered dev­as­tat­ingly. Shostakovich’s rep­u­ta­tion and self-es­teem plum­meted, leav­ing him dis­en­chanted and un­will­ing A scene from the Bol­shoi’s pro­duc­tion of ‘The Bright Stream’.

to ever com­pose for the stage again.

His­tory has ab­solved Shostakovich, who, though stymied by the pol­i­tics and his dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship with the gov­ern­ment, is ar­guably one of the most in­no­va­tive com­posers of our time.


Of the three bal­lets, the most se­vere pun­ish­ment was meted out to The Bright Stream. Adrian Piotro­vsky, the col­i­bret­tist, dis­ap­peared into obliv­ion af­ter be­ing sent to a Gu­lag, while the cre­ative ca­reer of its chore­og­ra­pher, Fe­dor Lopukhov, was vir­tu­ally ter­mi­nated. Shostakovich’s mu­sic was all but banned dur­ing

the Soviet era, ex­cept for a greatly edited suite of his most pop­u­lar tunes.

Chore­og­ra­pher Alexei Rat­man­sky, noted for restag­ing tra­di­tion­ally clas­si­cal bal­lets for large com­pa­nies, suc­cess­fully restaged The Bright Stream while he was a di­rec­tor of the Bol­shoi in 2003. He first came across the full score in a record­ing made by Rozhdestven­sky in Stock­holm in 1995. Hav­ing heard the mu­sic, he was bent on get­ting it back on to the Rus­sian stage.

“It sounded in­cred­i­ble. I couldn’t be­lieve that no one had re­turned to it be­fore. The mu­sic is just so dance­able, with this won­der­ful variety of ada­gios, waltzes and polkas. It’s like Minkus, but all on the level of Shostakovich’s ge­nius,” he said.

At the time, Rat­man­sky’s only knowl­edge of Fy­o­dor Lopukhov was what he had read. But as he delved deeper into the his­tory of The Bright Stream, Rat­man­sky quickly be­came aware that the aban­doned work was more than a fine piece of dance mu­sic. It was an out­stand­ing bal­let, chore­ographed by one of the most so­phis­ti­cated and sub­ver­sive tal­ents of the Soviet pe­riod.

Born in 1886, Lopukhov was among the last gen­er­a­tion to be raised in the Tsar’s Im­pe­rial Bal­let and among the first gen­er­a­tion to test its wings in the 20th cen­tury. As Rus­sian cul­ture be­gan to so­lid­ify un­der Stalin’s rule, how­ever, life be­came dif­fi­cult for cre­ative and re­source­ful artists like Lopukhov. Bal­let as an art form was still of­fi­cially sanc­tioned, as Stalin of­ten at­tended per­for­mances of Swan Lake, but chore­og­ra­phy of new works be­came risky.

Log­i­cally, The Bright Stream should have been a great suc­cess with Stalin’s regime Its premise was po­lit­i­cally cor­rect, set on a col­lec­tive farm, but Lopukhov had also in­cor­po­rated a clever comic li­bretto of ro­man­tic flir­ta­tions and the­atri­cal en­coun­ters that al­lowed his chore­og­ra­phy to range from vir­tu­oso clas­si­cal vari­a­tions to mo­ments of buf­foon­ing vaudeville. This in­cluded a dog rid­ing a bi­cy­cle (the first bi­cy­cle in Rus­sian bal­let, thinks Rat­man­sky) and a man dressed up in Syl­phide cos­tume.

The prob­lems arose when The Bright Stream went to Moscow and be­came sub­ject to the scru­tiny of the al­lies the Krem­lin. Lopukhov had an­tic­i­pated that a few dis­creet changes would be nec­es­sary, in­clud­ing leav­ing out the man in the Syl­phide frock, which he sus­pected could be tak­ing a cross-dress­ing joke too far. But ev­i­dently, the bal­let had been tar­geted for cen­sor­ship even be­fore its ar­rival.

Tick­ets are on sale at the box of­fice and via the web at www.palacea­muse­ment.com with a Palace Card or any ma­jor credit card.



Vybz Kar­tel

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