A night at the Ballet …

May 30th, 2016 Sections: Cutural Life

13179328_786674824801103_6488997043229680038_nSaturday was a rare night out for me … a night at the Ballet – well actually an evening of Contemporary Dance at the Theater of Opera and Ballet, (sponsored by ProArt – a community group established last year with the aim of supporting the Arts in the Kyrgyz Republic).

I saw the advert a couple of weeks ago and called a friend to ask if he was interested in going.  I didn’t fancy going on my own and most of the people I used to go to concerts and such events have moved on … I guessed, however, that this particular friend might be interested, because he had sat on the borad of small dance group back in the US.

He agreed and so we bought tickets.

In fact, although it was possible to buy tickets on line on the website ticket.kg  … but we decided to do it the old fashioned way and visited the box office.

One thing about the advert really surprised me … it said that the performance started at 21:00 … which is almost unheard of here in Bishkek … where performances usually start somewhere around six o’clock.   Well, the tickets said the performance began at six thirty – and we decided that the tickets were probably correct … they were. However, the adverts continued to say 21:30 even up to the day of the performance.

I warned the staff in the hotel that I would be leaving earlier than usual … and when it was time to leave called a taxi … and off I went.


The performers were members of the local company and students from the School of Choreography.  The programme consisted of three pieces, each about twenty to thirty minutes long.

The first, choreographed by a Swiss dancer, was performed by ‘baker’s dozen’ of young people in colourful linen suits … dancing routines as solos, or in shifting groups of two or three.  Personally, I found the music to be a little jarring – stoccato notes bowed in minor keys …  The programme notes suggested that it about movement – a link with nomads – and I may have got this wrong, but it struck me that it was like an examination piece; combining elements demonstrating technical and artistic merit … giving the dancers the scope to show what they had learned, what they were capable of, how they could shine individually and work together … as an ensemble … as well as giving them a sense of achievement … and enjoying themselves.  If that was the case … then I would say that they passed … easily.  It was well performed and clear that the performers were enjoying themselves as much as the audience had enjoyed their performance.

The second was choreographed by a local dancer who is classically trained … and that showed itself in the routines and the costumes … and the music was more amenable to the ear.  This time the programme notes indicated that the theme of the piece was about love and the performers paired off to dance their set routines.  Once again, I got the feeling that that it was like an examination piece … and, once again, if it was I would say that they passed.

The final piece, however, was choreographed by an American dancer and was far more imaginative … involving much more than set exercises, pieces that seemed designed to demonstrate skills; there was imagination and interpretation … the senses were actively engaged from the moment the curtain went up … to reveal a blank stage apparently bereft of any scenery … no fly curtains, no flats … the rigging for the lighting was visible (and even played its part in the ballet) … the backdrop appeared to be the brick wall at the end of the building … the stage was just one big open space.

My first thought was – this resembles the Dance scene in West Side Story, wheree Tony meets Maria for the first time … and I think there was an element of that in it … this time those programme notes indicated that the piece was about Youth and Growing up … and there were moments of joy and affection. energy and vitality, competition and conflict … and some very imaginative use of rope – as a skipping rope, for a tug of war, to produce a hypnotic rippling effect giving the impression of a storm (which the audience was so taken by that they burst into applause – even if they weren’t supposed to at that point).


The auditorium at the theater can seat almost 900 people but it was only about a third full, which I thought was disappointing.  It’s odd that the place is packed out for performances of Swan Lake, the Nutcracker and so on … but this programme wasn’t well known and obviously not a crowd puller.

At first, I thought that it was going to be a ‘one off’ event, as is usually case here, and I felt that this would be a pity because it represented an awful lot of effort for just one performance.

If, however, they could only get a small house for a performance, then I suppose that raises questions about staging a series of two or three performances … but I felt that it would have, at least, have given the chance for the word to get out … to encourage others to come and see.

13266129_795514133917172_1574956306636413953_nIn fact, it wasn’t a ‘one off’ …

  • during the first interval my friend told me that he had seen the programme before … when the visiting choreographers had been here.  The programme is now obviously part of the repertoire and will, no doubt, be staged again in the future …
  • … for example,  Tomorrow, (Tuesday, 31st May), “Same time, same place … ” as they used to say at the end of an episode, to encourage the audience to tune in to the next one …


If you like Contemporary Dance and are free on Tuesday evening … then it’s worth a visit … I think you’ll enjoy it.

The tickets cost between 350 and 750 som – between about five and ten (well, eleven) dollars,  which struck me as quite good value …

I know that I shouldn’t do this … but a ticket for such an event in the West would cost a lot more …

… and not just in terms of cash …

  • it’s good to break with routine occasionally, to get out and do something different,
  • it’s an enjoable evening, (OK – I accept that it’s a question … but that’s why I added the rider “If you like Contemporary Dance …”), and
  • a good house will encourage the performers.



There is one comment. to “A night at the Ballet …”

  1. ian
    May 31st, 2016 at 09:40

    Kloop.kg has posted some short videoclips on youtube, here is one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDf0R_vbPPs

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