A scene from Cinderella by the Russian National Ballet, coming to the Rozsa Center this Friday, Jan. 18, along with Sleeping Beauty, Saturday, Jan. 19. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center)
HOUGHTON -- Michigan Technological University’s Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts will present two magical nights of incomparable Russian ballet! Direct from Moscow, the Russian National Ballet Theatre, featuring fifty of Russia’s finest dancers, will perform two timeless ballet pieces, Cinderella on Friday, Jan. 18, and Sleeping Beauty, on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 7:30 p.m. each evening.
According to Rozsa Center Director Susanna Brent, "…the Russian National Ballet Theatre is an institution in Russian Ballet. Legendary Bolshoi principal dancer Elena Radchenko, the founder of the Russian National Ballet Theatre, has focused the company on upholding the grand, national tradition of the major Russian ballet works."
Cinderella: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18
On the first of two nights, they will perform Cinderella, Rostislav Zakharov’s 1945 ballet for the Bolshoi seen as the first landmark Cinderella. Zakharov was then the Bolshoi’s principal choreographer, and he conceived the work at a time when the Soviets were in a celebratory mood: the German World War II invasion had been beaten back and a new ballet was needed which could serve as a metaphor for triumph over tyranny. The great Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev created a definitive score for Cinderella, and the work received a triumphant premiere on Nov. 21, 1945, at the Bolshoi Theatre.
Prokofiev dedicated his composition to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, saying "…. I see Cinderella not only as a fairy-tale character but also as a real person, feeling, experiencing, and moving among us. What I wished to express above all in the music of Cinderella was the poetic love of Cinderella and the Prince, the birth and flowering of that love, the obstacles in its path and finally the dream fulfilled."
Sleeping Beauty: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19
On the second evening, the Russian National Ballet Theatre performs perhaps the greatest of Russian ballets: Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, a crowning jewel of the preeminent 19th-Century choreographer Marius Petipa's career. Although not immediately well received at its premiere on Jan. 15, 1889, Sleeping Beauty is often considered the finest achievement of the classical ballet. It is a grandiose and refined blending of the traditional, expressive, and spectacular -- in a lavish theatrical setting. Tchaikovsky was delighted with the invitation to write the music for a ballet based on Charles Perrault's well-known fairy tale. The Sleeping Beauty was the first of Petipa's classics to be seen in Western Europe. Under the title The Sleeping Princess, it was presented by Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929) in London in 1921. In 1939, it was remounted in Great Britain and has been considered the foundation of the Classical ballet repertory in that country ever since. It has now been adopted worldwide, and performance of the leading role remains a kind of initiation rite for aspiring ballerinas.
Further, if great classical Russian ballet is not enough, Rozsa guests who arrive early will be treated to an added bonus each evening: At 6 p.m. on Friday a reception and gallery opening titled "The People Respond: Paintings by Miguel Levy," will take place in the Rozsa Gallery. Saturday, patrons are invited to a "Ballet 101" workshop to be presented at 6 p.m. in the Rozsa Lobby. Tickets to the Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty performances are not required to attend either the gallery reception or the ballet workshop, and both are free and open to the public.
The Russian National Ballet Theatre performances are sponsored by the James and Margaret Black Endowment.
Tickets to the ballet performances each evening are $28.75, adults; $26.75, seniors; and $24.75 for students. To purchase tickets, please call (906) 487-2073, go online at rozsa.mtu.edu, or visit Ticketing Operations at Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex (SDC), 600 MacInnes Drive, in Houghton. SDC box office hours are 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Saturday and 12 noon - 8 p.m. on Sunday. Please note the Rozsa Box Office is closed during regular business hours and will only open two hours prior to show times.