If you have not studied the history of ballet, then you may not know the term drambalet, but it was major movement in redefining the narratives of classical ballet in Russia. Drambalet changed the focus of ballet stories from narratives about a single hero conquering unjust superiors and moved it to tales of dramatic action. These ballets told stories about unity and hard work and made large groups of people the heroes rather than focusing on the heroics of a single character. Open to more people in Russia at the time than ever before, ballet was growing in popularity, and because of it, drambalets were a well-regarded art form.
One of these ballets “The Flames of Paris” originated at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow in 1933. “The Flames of Paris” was a multi-faceted love story featuring several couples in a setting that would remind viewers of the French Revolution. Well, that’s historians best guess about the story told by “The Flames of Paris.” Since then, all but twenty-five minutes of the choreography has been lost as drambalet lost it’s popularity in the early 1990s.
But, “The Flames of Paris” is making a grand return under the direction of American Ballet Theatre artist-in-residence, Alexei Ratmansky. Trained in Bolshoi technique and style as a young dancer, Ratmansky has revived several of the old drambalets and has participated in ABT’s showing of them in movie theaters around the United States. Despite such a small amount of the original ballet to work with, Ratmansky’s knowledge and passion for these Russian ballets have made it easier to revive this nearly lost work of art. With so little of the original choreography to work with, Ratmansky has revised “The Flames of Paris” and filled in the gaps to create a new masterpiece that will be making its theater debut March 4th.
You can find a screening and location near you at bolshoiballetincinema.com.