Monday, 29 October 2007

The Swan Lake Ballet in St. Petersburg

It has been more than two years (exactly 2 years 2 months) since the time I landed up in Moscow in August 2005 but I could not watch the most famous ballet "The Swan Lake". Yesterday I got the opportunity to watch it but not at the famous Marinsky Theater in St. Petersburg but at the Theatre of Ballets and Operas that is located just opposite of the Marinsky on the Theatre Square. The reason is that Marinsky is always booked by the tourists and turns out to be very expensive for the city dwellers of St. Petersburg.

No doubt Swan Lake is one of the most famous ballets because it combines the opposites- soft and slow rhythms with hard and fast beats, good with the evil and a number of other opposites. There are a number of versions of this Ballet but in the one I saw yesterday, the evil sorcerer dies in the end and love triumphs. I was specially enchanted by the soft music of Tchaikovsky in the second act/scene of the ballet. The soft gliding movements of the ballerinas in white dresses offer a visual treat and soft music adds to the overall experience.

VERY BRIEF SYNOPSIS- A prince runs away to the forest because he is being asked to marry without love. He finds Odetta who turns into a swan in day but into a princess at night under the influence of the evil sorcerer. The prince falls in love with her but the clever sorcerer turns his own daughter into princess Odetta look alike and the Prince declares his love for her and wants to marry her but soon he realizes his mistake. Ultimately the prince unites with the real princess Odetta and sorcerer dies.

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Friday, 26 October 2007

One day at Derzhavin Museum in St. Petersburg

Reading the poem "God" by Derzhavin

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the Derzhavin Museum in St. Petersburg, named after the famous poet during the times of the Catherine the Great. I was invited there by Mr. Michael Tcheriatiev from the International League for the protection of culture who was very kind to guide me through the collections of this museum. There I got to see the photographs of the first cultural performance in the space at the "MIR" space station by the Russian astronauts. He also introcuded me to a number of poets, painters, scientists who have dealt with the cosmos in their work.

There I also got the opportunity to read the original text of the poem "GOD" by Derzhavin. Later Mr. Tcheriatiev sent me the English translation of the poem done by none other than Nicholas Roehrich. The poem is one of the best poems in the Russian language and has been translated into a number of foreign languages. I am posting the English translation of this poem done by Nicholas Roehrich for you all. Wish you a great reading!
For more pictures please PICTURESQUE

O thou eternal One ! Whose presence bright
All space doth occupy, all motion guide;
Unchanged thru time’s all-devastating flight;
Thou only God ! There is no God beside !
Being above all being ! Mighty One !
Whom none can comprehend, and none explore;
Who fill’st existence with Thyself alone;
Embracing all, supporting, ruling o’er;
Being whom we call God - and know no more !
In its sublime research, philosophy
May measure out the ocean deep, may count
The sands or the sun’s rays - but God ! For Thee
There is no weight nor measure ! None can mount
Up to Thy mysteries, Reason’s brightest spark,
Though kindled by thy light, in vain would try
To trace Thy counsels, infinite and dark;
And thought is lost ere thought can soar so high;
E’en like past moments in eternity.
Thou from primeval nothingness didst call
First chaos, then existence; Lord, in Thee
Eternity had its foundation; all
Sprang forth from Thee - of light, joy, harmony,
Sole origin, all life, all beauty, Thine.
Thy word created all, and doth create;
Thy splendour fills all space with rays divine.
Thou art, and wert and shall be ! Glorious, Great,
Light-giving, life-sustaining Potentate !
Thy chains the unmeasured Universe surrounds,
Upheld by Thee, by Thee inspired with breath,
Thou the beginning with the end hast bound,
And beautifully mingled life with death !
As sparks mount upward from the fiery blaze,
And as the spangles in the sunny rays
Shine round the silver snow, the pageantry
Of Heaven’s bright army glitters in Thy praise.
A million torches lighted by Thy hand,
Wander unwearied thru the blue Abyss !
They own Thy power, accomplished Thy command,
All gay with life, all eloquent with bliss,
What shall we call them ? Pyres or crystal light,
A glorious company of golden streams,
Lamps of celestial ether, burning bright,
Suns lighting systems with their joyous beams ?
But Thou to these art as the moon to night.
Yes ! As a drop of water in the sea,
All this magnificence in Thee is lost -
What are ten thousand worlds compared to Thee ?
What am I, then ? Heaven’s unnumbered host,
Tho’ multiplied by myriads, and arrayed
In all the glory of sublimest thought,
Is but an atom in the balance weighed
Against Thy greatness - is a cipher brought
Against Infinity ! What am I, then-naught
Even to the eternal throne of Thy divinity,
I am, O God ! And surely Thou must be !
Thou art directing, guiding all, Thou art !
Direct my understanding, then to Thee;
Control my spirit, guide my wandering heart;
Tho' but an atom midst immensity,
Still I am something fashioned by Thy hand;
I hold a middle rank ‘twixt heaven and earth
On the last verge of mortal being stand
Close to realm where angels have their birth,
Just on the boundary of the spirit land !
The chain of Being is complete in me;
In me is matter’s last gradation lost,
And the next step is Spirit-Deity !
I can command the lightning, and am dust !
A monarch and a slave; a worm, a God !
Whence came I here, and how ? So marvellously
Thy light, Thy love, in their bright plenitude,
Filled me with an immortal Soul, to spring
Over the abyss of Death, and bade it wear
The garment of eternal day, and wing
Its heavenly flight beyond the little sphere,
Even to its source, to Thee its author there.
O thought ineffable ! O vision blest,
Though worthless our conception all of Thee
Yet shall Thy shadowed image fill our breast,
And waft its homage to Thy Deity.
God ! Thus alone my lowly thoughts can soar;
Thus seek Thy presence - Being, wise and good;
Midst Thy vast works admire, obey, adore !
And when the tongue is eloquent no more,
The soul shall speak in tears its gratitude.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Ring- Fusion of Ballet and Hip-hop

Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to see the Ring that is a hybrid of ballet and hip-hop. Though its a true joy to watch the classic ballets like Giselle, Swan lake or Nutcracker, the Ring came out as a very fresh and innovative fusion bringing the elments of the classical ballet and modern hip-hop together.

The Ring is danced by a St. Petersburg dance company called 2H. Its a tradition breaking material as it uses electronically enhanced loud hip-hop music along with ballet. The fusion ballet is a contest between the dark and good forces clad in black and white and the contest takes on the stage that is modelled like a place for heavy weight boxing. The last evening the dark forces outdid the good ones at the stage and it was a real joy to see their powerful dance.