Arts: Stage on Screen

Professional ballet from the comfort of your local cinema

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The Bolshoi Ballet production of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is coming to a theater near you. Photo by Damir Yusupov/courtesy of Bolshoi Ballet.

Marin has an insatiable craving for the arts; hence the reason why live cinema and performance events thrive in this region. Gone are the days when being physically present for a live concert, play, opera or ballet was a requirement. Now there’s a shortcut to seeing the world’s foremost companies perform live—and it’s from the comfort of your local independent cinema.

There is, of course, no replacement for a live, in-person performance experience. But live cinema events do have their place, and offer unprecedented convenience and savings.

As the exclusive distributor for the Bolshoi Ballet, the Paris-based Pathé Live and its partner BY Experience in New York City reach more than 1,600 cinemas in select cities across 60 countries—providing audiences with the best stage view from the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow via satellite broadcast in HD with 5.1 Dolby sound. Come 2018, the Bolshoi Ballet kicks off the remainder of its season in January with Romeo & Juliet.

Ellie Mednick, executive director of the Lark Theater in Larkspur, says that audience reactions to the Bolshoi Ballet performances have been tremendous. Some have even called the dancers “superhuman.”

“This project is not commercial for us in terms of money, but a very important one,” says Katerina Novikova, head of press service for the Bolshoi Ballet. “We can see that every year interest is growing and we are having more and more cinemas and countries. Here we are covering two goals—we are enlarging our audience worldwide and we have a chance to have a very high-quality recording of our productions.”

London’s Royal Ballet has four upcoming productions via satellite, beginning in late February with The Winter’s Tale, presented exclusively by distributor Trafalgar Releasing.

“Ballet in cinema is proving to be extremely popular around the world,” says Marc Allenby, CEO of Trafalgar Releasing. “In my opinion the cinematic release of cultural productions is important as it democratizes access. It’s an opportunity for audiences around the world to see some of the best productions at an affordable cost and at a level of convenience unimaginable 10 years ago. This is particularly empowering for audience members who may be restricted in their ability to travel. It’s also an opportunity for the major arts organizations to forge relationships internationally ahead of tours and continue relationships once tours have concluded.”

According to Jeff Coventry, head of marketing at the Royal Opera House, roughly 760,000 people worldwide saw a Royal Opera House production in their local cinema during the 2016-17 season. “Offering a variety of ballets, from classic works such as The Nutcracker to contemporary creations as The Winter’s Tale, each cinema season enables us to reach a spectrum of audiences outside our London home and showcase the broad repertoire of the company,” Coventry says.

The beauty of attending the ballet at your local cinema? You can decide to dress up or dress down, grab some popcorn, sip wine or coffee and lose yourself for a few hours. Once the lights go dim, succumb to the experience. Hear the string and wind instruments as the musicians tune up. Notice a slight shutter once the first movement begins. Watch the curtain rise. Take in the stage design and costumes. Observe how the dancers and live orchestra interact. Notice stage patterns within the choreography and how the music is interpreted and synchronized with each movement. At the finish, commit the experience to memory to relive at your leisure.

2018 Bolshoi Ballet performances at the Lark Theater

January 21 & 23: Romeo & Juliet

February 4: The Lady of the Camellias

March 4 & 6: The Flames of Paris

April 8 & 10: Giselle

June 10 & 12: Coppelia

Lark Theater, 549 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur; 415/924-5111; larktheater.net.

2018 Royal Ballet performances at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center

February 28: The Winter’s Tale

March 27: Bernstein program from Wayne McGregor, Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon

May 3: Manon

June 12: Swan Lake

Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415/454-1222; rafaelfilm.cafilm.org.

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