The London’s GRAD, Gallery for Russian Art and Design, situated in Little Portland Street, is hosting a very interesting exhibition about Dimitri Shostakovitch’s ballet“The Bolt”. The project is curated by Elena Sudakova, Alexandra Chiriac and Elena Grushvitskaya, in collaboration with the Saint Petersburg State Museum of Theater and Music.
Created by the brillant mind of Dimitri Shostakovitch with Fedor Lopukov's coreographies, The Bolt was an ironic but deep portrait of the Russian society of the thirties, a history of industrial sabotage and a vivid picture of that crucial year for Soviet Russia.
Represented trough colourful costumes, the society of the decade dances with the sounds of the industrial machinery of the factory. The main character is Lenka Gulba, a lazy worker that convinces the naïve Goshka to block the production of a factory by throwing a bolt to a machine. Lenka and Goshka are surrounded by the typical key characters of the Soviet theatre: the Bourgeois, the Burocrats, the Secretary, the Clerk, the Drunkard and the Job-Hopper.
The Bolt was a powerful critic against the Soviet establishment of the 1930s. The reactions to the first representation were so violent that after its prémiere, the ballet was cancelled and never represented again in 74 years. This kind of reception of the ballet was significant for the particular historical moment in Russia in the 30s: after the political and artistic revolutions the social climate of the country was that of the Socialist Realism, marked by the suppression of the vanguard imagination. The acid irony behind of The Bolt was a concrete instrument of powerful critic to the status quo, which was seen as a menace to the Russian authorities.
Through the drawings of Tatiana Bruni and some black and white pictures of the first representation, all the energy of the Constructivist costumes is once again brought to life in the eyes of the spectator at the GRAD's exhibition. With few lines and bright colours, Bruni was able to capture the main aspects of the characters: the opulence of the Bourgeois, with her voluminous black outfit, the Japanese and the American fleets with their flamboyant costumes made of weapons and bombs, the Bureaucrat with a pair of trousers made with a pile of account ledgers, and much more. Even if it had to face 74 years of prohibition, the pungent satire of The Bolt is still vivid and alive in the wonderful drawings displayed at the GRAD.