Dance

Ballet at Chennai Trade Fair

A Russian dance studio had a treat in store for the teeming crowds at the Chennai Trade Fair this weekend

Heads held high, a line of ballerinas dressed in powder blue spill on to the stage, resembling a smoothly unravelling string of pearls. Taking position, they proceed with their performance in slow, dignified movements: the kind you would expect to see on a spotlit stage of an opera house, filled with elegant people in full feather.

But this particular show is different. Far removed from a traditional ballet setting, the young women from Diamant, a Russia-based dance studio, are performing at the Chennai Trade Fair. While most of their audience sit — or stand about — mesmerised, some amble over for a short while, cotton candy in hand, between bouts of shopping. To one side of the stage, just beyond the fifth row of white plastic chairs, a group of toddlers is focussed entirely on building its sand castle.

A majority of the numbers are in Russian. Yet, it is quite evident that the audience is doting on each performance. Aided by the Tamil commentary, which explains the concept behind each performance in detail, the couples, families and friends in the audience are all appreciation: chortling to their elvish antics set to a Christmas song; cheering to their cheerleader moves as they somersault to ‘come on, Russia!’ with Russian and Indian flags; sighing as little Cherednikov Sofia, one of the youngest dancers in the troupe, pirouettes in her tulled and winged costume to the song ‘Mother’s Angel’ sung by Stavker Maria.

Ballet at Chennai Trade Fair

That Diamant focusses on fashion as well as dance is evident from the array of costumes used in the two-hour show: 18, to be exact. From stark, ripped black to an earthy beige, and from glittery silver to loud reds and greens, each costume is designed in line with the theme of the performance. So much so, that one can glean the mood of the piece — angst, innocence or joy — right as the dancers line up, even before the music begins playing or the performers begin performing.

What is equally commendable is how smoothly these changes in mood and costume take place: within the minutes that it takes to name a song and introduce a piece, a score of girls have transformed from earthy maidens with a cause to naughty elves dying to have a go at acrobatics.

Diamant artistic director and choreographer of the show, Maria Trofimova, has her own moment in the spotlight as well, but the evening definitely belongs to her troupe of young talent, ranging from ages 13 to 20. And judging by how warmly she she coaxes them to say “nandri” to their audience instead of taking the traditional bow at the end, that’s exactly what she wanted.

The Russian Cultural Festival in Tamil Nadu was organised by the Indo-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 3:26:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/russian-ballet-at-chennai-trade-fair/article22490806.ece

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