Anna Karenina is a classical ballet. The production of Zurich Ballet with Christian Spuck’s choreography is splendid. It is an updated version of the story – daring and sensual with a spice of modern dance. It’s two hours of pure pleasure until the moving sad end. The audience was excited and thrilled!
Anna Karenina ballet is based on the 1877 novel by Tolstoy. It tells the story of Anna Karenina, a respectable society woman that is married to an aristocrat and is a mother of a child. Anna fell in love with count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky, a cavalry officer, who obsessively courted her and with whom she had a child. She refuses a divorce offer from her husband fearing to lose her son and goes abroad with Vronsky and their newborn baby girl. When they return she is out casted from society and they move to a village. But Vronsky neglects her and she suffers from her exclusion and turns unhappy until she jumps under a train. The novel presents other figures related to Anna’s story such as Anna’s friend Katerina (Kitty) who was deserted by Vronsky when he falls in love with Anna. Kitty gets married and lives a happy quiet life. Tolstoy presents here the contrast between passionate love and happiness. His book opening line is “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”
Zurich Ballets’ production is impressive. There are overall 50 dancers on stage, all marvelously dressed in the spirit of the era. I was most fascinated by their outfits – long tailed fancy suits and black hats, the women are in colorful bright dresses, puffy and fluttery. The colors of the woman are a dazzling decoration for the dance!
The dancers, and especially the lead dancer who is a fair skinned ballerina with long gentle legs, danced beautifully with a timed dance full of emotion, including authentic facial expressions. The dances where perfectly synchronized, long legs floating highly in the air, and fluttered dresses. The men show excellent balance and flexibility with graceful motions.
The choreography is superb. This is expressed well in the group dances with some modern scenes such as workers in the fields of the village to where Anna and Vronsky moved. The dance is often sensual and sexy when pairs dance with refined provocative sex scenes on stage.
The stage décor includes video projection of the era’s relevant scenery. The music of Rahmaninov, Lutoslawski, Tsintsadze, and Bardanashvili is wonderful.
In summary, an enchanting production, impressive and polished that made the crowd cheer!
Anna Karenina, Zurich Ballet, Choegraphy: Christian Spuck
Dates: 26-30/6, The Israeli Opera
Disclosure: I was a guest of the show