Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasilyov‘s version of the libretto and choreography of Spartacus is focused on the exploits of the leader of the legendary slave uprising.
Kasatkina and Vasilyov’s Spartacus is, undoubtedly, a classical ballet, which is also a truly up-to-date production. The producers wanted to show the style, the sentiment, and the tragic and sensual, or even sexual atmosphere of the declining Roman Empire. “Only a doggy remained innocent in this performance,” said an unknown critic after the premiere of Spartacus in 2002. Critics were roaring just as vehemently as the audience after the performance.
Kasatkina and Vasilyov’s Spartacus will always be remembered in the ballet world as the most beautiful scandal of the early 21st century. The 300 luxurious costumes by Elizaveta Dvorkina, 6 tons of unique sets based on sketches by Iosif Sumbatashvili (it takes 8 hours to assemble them),prop armor made at a famous jewelry factory — all this is meant to show the sensual, passionate style of the magnificent epoch of the Roman Empire’s decline.
The body is subject to passion; passion is subject to freedom. Steamy love scenes are followed by fights, and when the hot-tempered and joyful Spartacus bursts onto the stage, one believes that all the fights are his, and all the women are his, and all he needs is besotting freedom and therefore he is doomed.
Incidentally, the dancers learned real Roman fight techniques from professional stuntman Alexander Malyshev. But who taught the moves to the ballet girls performing the Dance of the Gaditanae? If you haven’t seen this dance, you know nothing about the erotic, but those ancient Romans did know it.Was that the reason why they were utterly corrupted?
This passionate world inexorably obeys and follows Khachaturyan’s great music. The production uses for the first time some of the music that was composed for this ballet, but was never performed before. The score of these fragments was exclusively granted to Kasatkina and Vasilyov by the composer’s heirs.
As a result we have a spectacular, bright show, quite in the Roman tradition.