Friday, June 19, 2009

A little support for the arts goes a long way

I had the extreme good fortune of being able to attend a performance of the Ukranian national ballet company Friday night as we returned to Kyiv, the cultural and political center of the country.

The presentation of "La Bayadere" was tremendous.

First, there was a 45-piece orchestra performing the music of the ballet and I'm guessing at least 60-70 dancers.

At some points, there were 30 or more dancers on the stage that featured beautiful sets.

And best I can tell, this three-hour ballet was only being performed for one night. There's no telling how many weeks it took to prepare.

There were many "Bravos!" throughout the evening and at the conclusion of the performance the audience clapped in unison as the stars of the ballet took a half dozen or so bows. The audience didn't give a standing ovation, but they obviously loved the show. I think the continuous applause was the equivalent to a standing ovation in the U.S.

The tickets cost the equivalent of about $5 to $100 in U.S. dollars.

I left the performance thinking: "How in the world can they afford to present this at all, much less just one time?"

Well, if there's at least one good benefit of the old Soviet style of government, it appears they provide a good deal of funding for the arts.

From June 2 to July 5, there are 28 separate performances by the national opera and ballet company combined, including the ballet's performance of "Swan Lake" and "Romeo and Juliet" and the opera's performance of "Carmen" and "Tosca."

I dare say this city could rival any in the world with it's commitment to the fine arts.

Oh, and there was a symphonic performance by the National Philharmonic last night as well in a performance hall nearby.

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