We have to hand it to the Russians. Olympic opening ceremonies are always brilliant spectacles, but rarely do they involve appearances by world-class ballet dancers.
Last Friday night, the Sochi opening ceremony offered a smorgasbord of rich, theatrical images, many of them created by Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark choreographer Daniel Ezralow. But the highlights for us bunheads were appearances by Russian ballet sensations Svetlana Zakharova, Ivan Vasiliev and Diana Vishneva.
It's only every so often that we get to peek behind the curtains of the world’s most acclaimed ballet companies. So when this video of the Mariinsky Theatre and Vaganova Ballet Academy came across our desks, we couldn't wait to watch it. The 25-minute documentary, titled Ballet, Sweat and Tears, features interviews and footage of young students at the academy as well as first soloist Oxana Skorik and prima Diana Vishneva at the Mariinsky, plus insight from Vishneva's coach. It goes in the studios, through the theater and to their apartments.
Nothing seems to intimidate Diana Vishneva. The Mariinsky prima toured her own solo show. She signed up for a guest spot with the Martha Graham Dance Company. She is forever chasing after new challenges. Her latest project? A new creation by Les Ballets de Monte Carlo director Jean-Christophe Maillot. She just spent two weeks in Monaco learning the choreography, and will be performing it in Russia over the next year.
It's not every day that you get to see a world-class ballerina rehearse. It's pretty much never that you get to see that world-class ballerina rehearse Martha Graham's work. So to say that I was thrilled to be able to watch Diana Vishneva prepare Graham's Errand into the Maze yesterday is a massive understatement.