On July 20, 2016, the Mariinsky Theatre hosted Kazastan’s Astana Ballet as part of the Stars of White Nights summer festival. The company presented two ballets “Gaia” – a contemporary ballet about the Earth and its various elements, choreographed by Ricardo Amarante – and “Cleopatra” set to Maurice Ravel’s music (including his timeless Boléro – originally composed as a ballet commissioned by the Russian actress and dancer Ida Rubinstein in 1928) and choreographed by Nikolai Markelov.
The libretto of the ballet is about the rivalry between Cleopatra and her sister Arsinoe, both of whom are competing for the crown of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Lachesis, the goddess of destiny, instigates their rivalry by showing them the crown. An elaborate dance-off duel between the sisters begins – set to Ravel’s gradually swelling Boléro – and escalates into a mass dance with the entire troupe. Cleopatra manages to snatch off the crown in the end and becomes the Queen of Egypt.
The costumes were masterfully created by Anna Yakuschenko and separate the rivaling teams into emerald green and royal blue silk eye candy. The set, light, and video designers created an impressive spectacle that mesmerizes the audience and transports them into a fairy tale.
The all-female troupe was led by the soloists Riza Kanatkyzy (Cleopatra) and Zhibek Meshitbay (Arsinoe), both of whom have gracefully mastered classical and modern ballet techniques to make this performance both timeless and contemporary.