Moscow is considered one of the world’s most important centre for classical ballet, with prestigious companies such as the Bolshoi Ballet and the ballet of the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre performing in sold out venues and acquiring a solid recognition abroad. However, there are other, lesser known interesting companies to discover in the Russian capital. One of them is Theatre Ballet Moscow, a company which performs both classical and contemporary works by Russian as well as international choreographers.

Eros © Rust2D
Eros
© Rust2D

The company performed its last performance of the season in the intimate Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre last week, reviving the most important première of the year: EROS. MINOS. The programme consists of two new works by internationally acclaimed choreographers Anabelle Lopez Ochoa and Juanjo Arques - both of whom have strong connections with the Dutch dance scene. The beautiful choreographies were well executed by the Theatre Ballet Moscow, leaving a strong impression of a company that makes a valuable contribution to Russian dance with an interesting and varied repertoire. 

With EROS. MINOS. Anabelle Lopez Ochoa and Juanjo Arquez created new works for the company that drew inspiration from ancient Greek legends and myths. The first work, Minos, is a beautiful balletic choreography that suits the classically schooled dancers of the Theatre Ballet Moscow very well. It’s based on a myth surrounding the Crete-born monster Minos, who built an underground labyrinth to hide himself and his son Minotaur in. Much of the movement in Juanjo Arquez’s work resemble the waves of the mediterranean sea. When the curtain rises, a male dancer stands in the middle of the stage with his back turned to the audience. A bright light shines on his upper body and arms, accentuating the lithe and fluid movements of his muscles. The lights grow brighter and reveal another intriguing image, that of  group of women en pointe forming the walls of the labyrinth. They dance in different geometrical patterns and enclose the unwanted visitors inside the labyrinth. Within these walls, numerous confrontations and romantic pas de deux take place. Whilst these were graceful, they were also rather blank. Overall, this makes Minos a striking work that’s pleasing to watch, but which did not have a strong emotional impact on me. 

Anabelle Lopez Ochoa, on the other hand, created the meaningful and atmospheric Eros Redux. It is based on a myth surrounding androgynous people (who are both man and woman). The choreography is set in a dark and mysterious world and starts with a duet for two dancers in nude costumes.

Minos © Rust2D
Minos
© Rust2D
They lift each other and constantly stay connected, either through their hands or through their backs. Their movements are slow and grounded, demonstrating strength, balance, and a sense of togetherness. King of the gods Zeus separates them out of fear for their power. What follows is a search for harmony between men and woman, dressed in black suits and white shirts, which allude to the yin and yang opposing, yet complementary forces. They form groups and acquire a defensive body language whilst also performing numerous dynamic jumps and turns. Couples meet in duets to find beauty and unity that conquers all other powers. At times the choreography seemed challenging for the dancers, but it did reveal some good performers amongst the soloists.

With EROS. MINOS Theatre Ballet Moscow presents itself as an ambitious company of well trained dancers, who are able to tackle the demanding contemporary works of Anabelle Lopez Ochoa and Juanjo Arquez. There is still room for growth, but the company has potential and is well worth seeing for its varied and accessible repertoire, which offers audiences the opportunity to see works from international and established choreographers as well as discovering up and coming Russian talents.