Senseless Kindness: Bolshoi Ballet’s former lead reinvents a literary masterpiece for the screen

Senseless Kindness: Bolshoi Ballet’s former lead reinvents a literary masterpiece for the screen

7 December 2020

The English National Ballet’s latest production, choreographed by the Bolshoi Theatre’s former principal dancer, Yuri Possokhov, is now available to stream online.

Senseless Kindness is a 15-minute performance loosely-inspired by Vasily Grossman’s novel Life and Fate, which tells the story of a Russian family caught in the Second World War, and is set to Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No1 — an atypical, romantic composition in his oeuvre, which the composer wrote at the tender age of 16.

“I’ve always been afraid to work with Shostakovich’s music,” Possokhov says. “But figured, now is as good a time as any to challenge myself, and work with his outstanding music.”

“We started with the story, but I soon realised this performance is driven by so much more than narrative,” the Ukraine-born choreographer explained. “It’s a music of the heart. It’s about our feelings towards our surroundings — there’s a sense of tragedy to it, there’s love, there’s friendship, so many negative things and so many positives at the same time.”

To heighten the drama of the music, the film was kept to a minimal black and white. Instead of changing the set design, director Thomas James relied on intimate close-ups, visual contrasts, and clever tweaks to lighting to move the story along. Dancers Francesco Gabriele Frola, Emma Hawes, Isaac Hernández, and Alison McWhinney amplify the ballet’s emotional range, as the production flits between joy and melancholy, tension and intimacy.

Senseless Kindness is available for rent here.

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