Bolshoi Babylon starts with beauty. Images of ballet dancers fill the screen and through them strength, focus and a whole lot of intention. What that intention will lead them to do is what makes this tale interesting.
The story continues as it starts, a visual feast of beautiful beings. Whether it’s children backstage watching their mothers, dancers stretching and gossiping together, or a soloist practising for her return to the stage, it’s all stunning.
Underneath this beauty lurks danger. A constant tension lingers, hovering over the dance stage and filling the interviews. It permeates between manager and director and seeps through to artists affecting both young and old.
There are layers to this thrilling story. It’s a tale of the corruption in Bolshoi Theatre, exposing how art represents a country and politicians are involved in artistic decisions; where dancers are treated like criminals and envy leads to a brutal personal attack. Unfortunately the documentary does not explore this theme but instead moves swiftly onto the story of an old bitter relationship between the two most important people in the theatre. However this topic is also curtailed, summed up in short interviews. The rushed pace of the film gives the notion the camera is used as a peeping device looking in on this fascinating world, but having to turn away when all the juicy bits are revealed. After all, there is so much more to be seen and to be told, but in the end most of what is shown is beautiful Russian ballet.
“There aren’t many brands that represent Russia. One is Bolshoi Theatre, another is the Kalashnikov.” This maxim opens Bolshoi Babylon’s dramatic story and goes on to prove that the qualities of the Kalashnikov and the Bolshoi dancer; the power, focus, perfection and danger are not so different.
Bolshoi Babylon is released nationwide on 8th January 2016.
Watch the trailer for Bolshoi Babylon here: