Pavilion of Armida / Hungarian Dances /
Sextus Propertius



11 April 2024

The working title of the performance was Petrov/Pimonov/Samodurov. And really, what does auteur ballet represent if not the face of its creator? In the end, the ballets were given three separate titles, and these portraits of their choreographers proved to be starkly contrasting.

“The three different parts both complement each other (in Petrov’s and Pimonov’s ballets one can identify hommages to that great deconstructor Samodurov, while the latter develops a line that he has previously probably only sketched) and exist independently.”

“References and individual style, addressing history and moving towards the future…”


Pavilion of Armida

Choreographer: Maxim Petrov
Music: Nikolay Cherepnin
Conductor: Artyom Abashev
Set design Alyona Pikalova
based on the art of Mark Rothko
Costumes: Tatyana Noginova
Lighting Sergey Vasilyev

“Elena Vorobyova and Alexander Merkushev aren’t just virtuoso dancers, they are also expressive mimes, which is vital in the passéist world of Pavilion of Armida, where the punishment is not so much at the hands of the museum guards who appear in the finale, but more in the Caretaker’s expulsion from the magical gardens of art back into reality.”


The concept for Pavilion of Armida came not from a choreographer but from an artist. Alexandre Benois borrowed the plot from Théophile Gautier’s novella Omphale: in a park pavilion at midnight, a canvas depicting the sorceress Armida comes to life. The ballet, staged by Michel Fokine, was a success on its premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1907, and Sergei Diaghilev chose it to open the first season of the Ballets Russes in Paris.

It was also an artist – the set designer Alyona Pikalova – who had the idea for this production by Ural Ballet. Armida’s pavilion has become a hall in a museum where abstract paintings are exhibited. This is an allusion to the incident at the Yeltsin Center, when a security guard drew eyes on the figures in a painting by Anna Leporskaya. The choreographer Maxim Petrov retained the motif of the canvas come to life, while transforming the themes established by Benois and Fokine. Works of art do not always resemble everyday reality. They can inspire anxiety and the urge to correct them, but in the end, they are capable of transfiguring the viewer and everyday reality.

Hungarian Dances

Choreopgrapher: Anton Pimonov
Music: Johannes Brahms
Conductor: Artyom Abashev
Set design: Alyona Pikalova
Costumes: Elena Trubetskova
Lighting: Sergey Vasilyev

“’Lighten up, ballet is fun!’ Hungarian Dances is a sort of two-in-one: it both references neo-romanticism and debunks it; it listens sensitively to the music and interprets it thuggishly, contrapuntally; it is a catalogue of choreographers and an original piece.”


“The Hungarian csárdás races by like an express train, and the soloists seem to faint in perfect synchronicity.”

Choreographer Anton Pimonov, the creator of Brahms Party, returns to the dancers of Ural Ballet and the music of Johannes Brahms. In the title Hungarian Dances, he puts the emphasis on the second word. With the exception of isolated poses from the lexicon of folk dance, there is nothing Hungarian about the ballet. Pimonov prefers not to constrain the dancers and the audience with allusions to folklore. He proposes simply to dance, although the simplicity of his choreography is, as a rule, deceptive.

Sextus Propertius

Choreographer: Slava Samodurov
Music: Alexey Sysoyev
Conductor: Artyom Abashev
Costumes: Elena Trubetskova
Lighting: Sergey Vasilyev

“And if poetry is about love, then ballet is about love of form, of unearthly clarity, and about the inexorability of the laws of nature… This mutual generosity and love is also a portrait of the company and the choreographer Samodurov.”


The name of this performance is borrowed from Sextus Propertius, a poet of ancient Rome. Four books of his Elegies have survived down the ages. The text of one of them was used by composer Alexey Sysoyev, who was commissioned by Ural Ballet to write the music. To his score for strings, synthesizer, percussion and tape, he added parts for readers, chanting Propertius’s text and playing on typewriters – typewriters which were donated to the production by residents of Ekaterinburg.

In Slava Samodurov’s ballet, there are no allusions to antiquity or direct links with Propertius’s Elegies. And, just as the music does not illustrate the verse, so the staging gives no commentary on the music, but rather enters into a complex reaction with it. The choreographer prefers concentrated motion, and each of the eleven members of the dance troupe become soloists.

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