With musical accompaniment and the swish of hooped skirts
In the old Soviet film, Cinderella used to say, “It’s a sad thing not to be able to go to the ball when you deserve to”
In the old Soviet film, Cinderella used to say, “It’s a sad thing not to be able to go to the ball when you deserve to.” The leadership of the Bolshoi Theatre agrees with the character of eternally youthful Yanina Zheimo that one must dance with gallant young men, wear elegant dresses and embrace the feeling of a charming 19th century lady. This is essential in our gadget-filled age.
It’s now possible to attend a celebration wearing those very same luxurious hooped skirts and black dress coats: by just buying a ticket to the Grand New Year Ball. For the seventh season, this splendid event attracts lovers of palaces and grand costume celebrations.
It’s not long since the New Year Ball of the Wittgenstein Dukes finished in Mir Castle and the dance marathon baton passed to the Bolshoi Theatre. For one night on January 13th, the country’s major opera and ballet establishment opened its doors to everyone who met the dress code. The ladies arrived in truly beautiful costumes: their silk dresses pressed, with perfect hairdos and sparkling eyes. The men also eagerly joined in the New Year dance in elegant. The Theatre’s General Director, Vladimir Gridyushko, is also a great fashionista. He is pleased with the amount of effort the guests put into the costume, which seems to increase year after year. “I remember a time when men arrived in jeans, but now everyone knows the requirements for a ball. I know that many guests make costumes especially for the event, planning their outfits several months ahead. It’s a wonderful occasion for men to put on their dinner jackets or frock coats and for women to wear magnificent ball gowns.”
30-year-old Olga Slabysh has taught a fashion lesson to Mr. Gridyushko; she buys a new dress every year to attend the ball. Her present dress costs $50 and is the fourth in her collection. “Of course, nobody would wear such wonderful dresses in their daily life. After a ball, they are kept in wardrobes. However, this single night a year is worth the purchase of a new dress,” she says. Olga admits that a New Year ball is not only a chance for her to dance traditional dances but also to attend ‘a bridal fair’ as there are plenty of eligible young men in attendance.
Dances are the core of any ball and the Bolshoi night is no exception. For 800 guests to ‘shine’ on the parquet and not to step on each other’s toes, they have to practice with a dance teacher. After two months of ball choreography training, several couples have already paired off. Among them are Yelena Safronova and Anton Nekrashevich. They are newcomers to the ball culture but are not embarrassed by the fact. Yelena comments, “I became friendly with Anton and we decided to make a couple. We haven’t danced anything complicated so far but I hope, next year, we’ll learn something more difficult, for example, a polka.”
For those tired of noisy celebrations and Pushkin’s Onegin, thematic events are organised. This year, festivities have been held in Ancient Greek style: guests were entertained by muses and a golden-haired Apollo. The Muse Urania held her own fortune-telling salon, while Clio offered intellectual puzzles in the historical corner. Muses Evterpa and Erato reigned in the L.Alexandrovskaya Chamber Hall, offering poetic competitions to the guests. Students of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts’ Theatrical Department helped the theatre to prepare the holiday from another era.
The breath-taking music and dance spectacular lasted until sunrise when, instead of horses and carriages, guests left in powerful cars.
By Yuliana Leonovich