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#TBT: Bolshoi Ballet in 1956 and 1986

Bogomolova and Vlasov in Spring Waters (1956) .

Spring may be 10 days away, but we’re anxious for its arrival—so we’re dedicating this #ThrowbackThursday to the Spring Waters pas de deux. Created by Russian choreographer and former Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer Asaf Messerer, this short concert piece sounds sweet and serene in name, but its surprising acrobatics capture spring’s energy rather than its mildness.

This first clip is from 60 (!) years ago. In costumes of white and gold, Bolshoi dancers Lyudmila Bogomolova and Stanislav Vlasov burst onto the stage like rays of sunshine. You can see how technical standards have changed in six decades, but this performance is hardly lacking. Bogomolova leaps fearlessly into Vlasov’s arms and radiates warmth in the slower partnering sections. Before their exit, he catches her, tosses her into the air and dashes offstage.

 

In this later clip from 1986, Maria Bylova and Leonid Nikonov’s technique is closer to what we are accustomed to. With higher legs come even more death-defying tricks. When Bylova runs to Nikonov from the corner, she takes a flying, head-first dive. At the end, holding Bylova with just one hand, Nikonov carries her effortlessly into the wings. This version seems almost more frenzied than the 1956 one, but none of the four dancers betray any hint of stress in Messerer’s challenging partnering. They dance like carefree lovers on a spring day. Do you have a favorite version?

 

Fun fact:

Asaf Messerer was Maya Plisetskaya’s uncle! Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

Asaf Messerer and students including his niece, Maya Plisetskaya (left). Photo via Alamy Photos.

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