"Oh, those Russians", as the recent visitors to the city, Boney M, would undoubtedly
have remarked. The stage was set at our very own Ravindra Bharathi for these absolute
masters of a very graceful art - the Ballet. But where were they?
It is said that in cultural programs it is graceful to be late. The organizers of this mega-event seemed to have taken this adage very seriously, indeed. The show was scheduled to begin at 6:30pm, and when the dancers finally came on stage it was at 9:00pm (for the mathematically challenged, that is a good 2 ½ hours late). But what was commendable was that the audience (or what was left of it) was very generous to the performers with their applause, and with adequate reason too.
Because, what came after the long wait was a breathtaking experience in itself. After a gap of ten long years, Hyderabad, and South India in general, chanced upon the opportunity to see these masters of the Ballet - the Russians. The performers lived up to their promise, and delivered a stunning performance that had to be seen to be believed.
The troupe comprised of a total of 18 artistes, with 12 performing as a group and the others performing either in twos or solo. The dances themselves were set to typical up-beat Russian music, and some to soulful melodies. The dancers repeatedly impressed on the viewers a high quality of rhythm and grace. The show was broken in to small pieces of choreographic excellence. The fast numbers had the audience foot-tapping along with the dancers on stage, while the slow ones were a sheer delight to watch.
The audience was so impressed that there was a spattering of applause heard even as the dances were in progress. Doesn't exactly make for great etiquette, but in Hyderabad it has to be taken as the ultimate form of applause. What actually completely dazzled us were the costumes worn by the performers. Down to the smallest accessories, like earrings and anklets, it reflected the high professionalism and the rich tastes of the ensemble.
But sadly, the show had to be brought to rather quick ending falling badly short of time. The extravaganza lasted a total of just 30 minutes, with the curtains coming down to a heavy applause at as early as 9:30 pm. Having already performed in Chennai the day earlier, the troupe now proceeds to Guntur, the next leg of their South India tour. What remained to be explained though, was the cause of such a long delay in starting the show. A brief and unsatisfactory explanation was given, stating that the performers needed their costumes to be in perfect order before starting the program.
The high point of the evening was the final piece of choreography, set to extremely lively folk music, which had the audience cheering throughout and left everybody craving for more. All said and done, it was a dazzling display by the Russians, but unfortunately a case of too late and then too little.