La Bayadère

Alexei Ratmansky's ballet at the Staatsoper is mesmerising against all fears that new indendant Johannes Öhman could spoil it all. Catch it Dec 15, 19:00, Dec 26, 28, 18:00.

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Photo by Yan Revazov

Mesmerising against all fears

Opulent is certainly the first word that springs to mind. Alexei Ratmansky’s magical reconstruction of Petipa’s 19th-century ballet at the Staatsoper is a theatrical feast of vivid colours, dazzling costumes and intricate, ambitious stage design. It’s an overly exoticised construct of India, a Western fantasy of tigers and elephants, but one that is aware of its own artificial status. At the same time, it stops short of succumbing to mere Orientalist projections. An air of authenticity is lent to the original libretto and, by extension, this faithful adaptation through a romantic portrayal of devadasis, Indian customs and Hindu ceremonial practice. While Daniil Simkin receives some of the biggest applauses on his debut night for his solo sequences as Solor and Anna Ol delivers a beautiful performance as the bayadère (temple dancer) Nikiya, the ensemble scenes are among the most mesmerising and memorable. Solor’s opium-fuelled vision “The Kingdom of the Shades” is a particular highlight: 32 ghostly white dancers snake down from a mountain in perfect unison across an ethereal, smoke-filled stage concealed by a black veil – a sublime sequence that simply transfixes the audience. La Bayadère is the Staatsballett’s first production since Johannes Öhman took over from Nacho Duato as intendant. And against all fears expressed by critics, it demonstrates a solid commitment to the classical repertoire. Berlin’s ballet is thriving!

Dec 15, 19:00, Dec 26, 28, 18:00