BOLT: Exhibition at GRAD London

I popped into GRAD (Gallery for Russian Art and Design), located near Oxford Street, last night. The current exhibition, BOLT, is about Dmitri Shostakovich’s 1931 ballet The Bolt, and includes rarely seen designs, photographs and costumes. The exhibition is organised in collaboration with the St Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music.

The ballet is described as the last Constructivist ballet, and judging by the costumes and photographs on display it is unique among ballets I have seen. The story, written by Victor Smirnov, is one of industrial sabotage and the innovative choreography by Fedor Lopukhov includes such pieces as the “Dance of the Cyclists” – a bit different from Sleeping Beauty!

The Bolt was pulled after its first performance at the Leningrad Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, after a backlash from critics and a perception that it was a threat to the Soviet authorities. It was not seen again until the Bolshoi Ballet performed it 74 years later. After seeing this exhibition, I am curious to see the ballet for myself.