The vodka was flowing for attending guests and guest of honor Valery Gergiev, as well as for the mini-wearing ballet dancers of the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet, who made it shortly before midnight to the rooftop bar at the Hotel on 107 Rivington. They had just arrived from the Lincoln Center Festival, where the Mariinsky is giving a week of Ballet performances, including two productions of Rodion Shchededrin’s orchestrations of the ballet Anna Karenina and The Little Humpbacked Horse with choreography by artist in residence of the American Ballet Theater, Alexei Ratmansky, who also happened to be the former director of the Bolshoi Ballet.
It was thanks to Gergiev’s initiative and perhaps, as generally rumored also his political connections, that the company and the orchestra were presented with a new, lavish concert hall in 2006. Artistic and General Director since 1988, the charismatic conductor not only restored in 1992 its glorious name from Czarist times from the Soviet Kirov to Mariinsky, but also stamped his approval of its association with the great tradition of the famed Russian ballets.
The legendary Bolshoi theatre had been transferred to the Mariinsky in the late 19th century,and Gergiev has managed to institutionalize, and carry over into the present, the stuff which legendary Russian music and dance culture is made of.
Celebrated composers like Khachaturian, Yakobson, Tishchenko, Shostakovich and Prokofiev are part of the patina of the Mariinsky productions; dancers as Nijinsky, Ulanova, Nureyev and Baryshnikov made it a household name in the artistic world. The Washington Post once acknowledged this with: “…perfection of style, its technical power and assurance, its unanimity of spirit, and …the majestic scale of it all.”
Artiste extraordinaire and the DJ in charge of bringing even the after-party full circle was Gabriel Prokofiev, who, flown in from his native London and yes, he is indeed, as he assured me, the grandson of Sergej.
The young Prokofiev brings classical music into the sphere of turntables and finds himself at the crossroads of the difficulty of having to live with or up to – and perhaps just as difficult to live without – the famous name.
Prokofiev is being associated with the true eminence of its zeitgeist, its creativity transformed from one generation to the next. His “nonclassical” output has a nod of classical reverence, potentially bringing this music back onto the dance floor.
With such music and such dancers, as well as the booze – I only wondered why actually nobody was dancing.