Magazine article Dance Magazine

Major Surgery for the Bolshoi Theater

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Major Surgery for the Bolshoi Theater

Article excerpt

MOSCOW'S Bolshoi Theater, home to the renowned Bolshoi Ballet (and Bolshoi Opera), will lower the curtain on its season at the end of April, two months earlier than usual, so that the institution can launch a major renovation project. The overhaul will necessitate the complete closure of the building in 2006; the reconstruction is expected to continue at least until 2008, with the theater open part-time.

This renovation is long overdue. Despite the majestic appearance of the Bolshoi's red-and-gold draped stage, behind the curtain, the theater has not changed much since its reopening in 1856, after a fire. Moldy walls and peeling plaster greet dancers warming up in the practice rooms. The poorly maintained dressing rooms lack the basic amenities. The theater's stage technology is so antiquated that not only does it limit experimentation in production, it is also considered dangerous. Outside, a close look at the building's faded pink facade reveals a succession of shoddy paint jobs, poorly maintained architectural details, and damage from World War II bombing. Then, there are the chronic problems stemming from the original construction of the theater on an unstable foundation.

The overhaul will begin with the building's front portico. The colossal white columns, which lean forward 20 centimeters, will be returned to their upright position. During this period, the theater's front entrance will be closed and visitors will gain access through side doors. …

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