A Poem about Love. Premiere of the Ballet "Kozy Korpesh - Bayan Sulu" at the Astana Ballet Theater

Following its traditions, "Astana Ballet" has completed its eighth season with the premiere, the play "Kozy Korpesh - Bayan Sulu" based on the Kazakh legend. The theater continues to follow the chosen strategy - to form a repertoire of different countries, including one-act plotless productions, classical heritage ballets, performances and concert programs. At the same time, the development of domestic choreography still remains one of the priority tasks of the repertoire policy. "Kozy Korpesh - Bayan Sulu" is the sixth national ballet in the playbill of the theater, and it has taken its rightful place, marking another possible interpretation of Kazakh folklore.

Previously, the theater staged productions of national ballets in various genres: the avant-garde ballet “Alem” by choreographer N. Dmitrievsky; poetic performances "Zhusan" and "Language of Love" by the national choreographer M. Avakhri; her historical blockbuster "Sultan Baybars"; ballet-tale "The Legend of Turanga" by A. Sadykova.

The Russian choreographer Georgy Kovtun, known for his numerous productions on Russian and foreign stages, was invited to stage the play "Kozy Korpesh - Bayan Sulu". Graduated from St. Petersburg Conservatory named after Rimsky-Korsakov (workshop of Nikolai Boyarchikov), Georgy Kovtun worked in various theaters and in various genres. He staged musicals and ethnographic concert programs; choreographic miniatures and ballet scenes in operas; full-length ballet performances and choreography for dramatic performances. But first of all, Kovtun is a master of dramatic choreographic canvases, staged in the style of "great ballets" of the second half of the 20th century.

Tightly twisted spring of dramatic action, abundance of mass scenes, a large number of moving and played with hard scenery and props during the action, mixing different styles of dance vocabulary - these staging techniques are present in almost every major work of this choreographer. His epic ballets "Spartacus", "The Legend of Yusuf", "The Golden Horde" are performed with great success on the stage of the Kazan Opera and Ballet Theatre named after M. Jalil.

The first performer of the main roles in these ballets was Nurlan Kanetov, an excellent dancer and leading soloist, who just a few months ago took up the post of Arts Director of the Astana Ballet Theater. The decision to invite Georgy Kovtun to the production of the ballet was taken collectively by the artistic council. The very idea of ​​creating a national ballet with the participation of Georgy Kovtun arose much earlier, in 2017, when the choreographer came to Astana Ballet to stage the one-act ballet “Walpurgis Night”.

Then, having heard for the first time the unusually expressive music of the Kazakhstani composer Aktota Raimkulova, Georgy Kovtun got excited about the idea of ​​staging a ballet on a national theme. The choreographer has great experience in composing epic performances. Four years have passed before the idea was implemented. But this also has its advantages - the team has matured, it is capable now of staging any complexity, the number of the troupe has increased, the male cast of artists has grown stronger.

The ballet "Kozy Korpesh - Bayan Sulu" was based on the well-known Kazakh lyric-epic poem of the 13th-14th centuries about the tragic story of young lovers, whose happiness was destroyed by the insidious Kodar. Killed by his hand Kozy was avenged by the long-haired beauty Bayan. “She promises to marry Kodar if he digs a well with spring water for her. Kodar gets to work, going deeper and deeper and holding on to the long braids of Bayan. The girl suddenly cuts off her braids and Kodar, left in the well, dies. Thus Kozy is avenged. On his grave, the heroine of the legend stabs herself with a dagger,” says a legend recorded by researchers of Kazakh folklore in the middle of the 19th century.

It is known that there is no single interpretation of this legend, there are more than 20 interpretations of the ancient legend. Similar motifs are present in the epos of other Turkic peoples. Romantic story has attracted attention of local cultural figures. Earlier, on the basis of the poem, the play by G. Musrepov "Kozy Korpesh - Bayan Sulu", the film "Poem of Love" based on his own script were created, and the film with the same title by Asanali Ashimov was shot in 1922. The ballet theater did not pass by the romantic plot either. In 1965, based on the poem, the young choreographer Bulat Ayukhanov staged a miniature "Scene at the Mazar" to the music of B. Yerzakovich. It was one of the first productions of the choreographer for the Theater of Two Actors.

Later, in 1971 at the Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Abai, the chief choreographer Dauren Abirov staged a full-length ballet "Kozy Korpesh - Bayan Sulu" to the original music of E. Brusilovsky. The ballet did not last long in the repertoire of the theater, and, unfortunately, has not been preserved. Only photographs and a fragment of a video recording of a romantic adagio performed by the young Ramazan Bapov and the leading soloist of the theater of that time, Sarah Kusherbayeva, remained.

Critics noted the friability of the dramatic line, the absence of a pronounced conflict, according to the ballet expert L. Sarynova, the ballet needed to be improved. Probably, the attempt of the authors to give an ideological coloring to the plot, highlighting the social inequality of the characters, narrowed the epic sound of the poem about love, deprived it of philosophical depth. It is surprising that since then the eyes of the next generations of ballet masters have never turned to such a truly “ballet” plot. Fortunately, this happened today.

Director Georgy Kovtun approached the interpretation of the legend from a different angle. He turned to ancient Turkic mythology, where the idea of ​​the saving mission of the Wolf was reflected in many legends and written monuments. And he made Kodar the son of a she-wolf, who was killed on the hunt by the parents of Kozy and Bayan - Sarybay and Karabay. He also introduced the image of the White Elder, the Creator of all living things, into the plot of the ballet. His role in ballet is limited to the role of an observer: empathizing with the characters, he can in no way influence their actions and the course of events. The Elder respects the freedom of will and choice of man. But the person himself bears responsibility for what he has done. The author of the ballet paraphrases the well-known expression of Confucius: ‘he who sows an act, reaps his fate’.

In the prologue of the ballet, the White Elder (Serik Amanzhol) sculpts Bayan girl and Kozy boy from clay and hands them over to different families. He also listens to the request of the steppe she-wolf for offspring. The choreographer constructs the exposition of the ballet with the help of theatrical plastic means, witty solving the scene of the birth of children and a wolf cub. And he is not afraid to invite children, very young artists to the performance (Zhan Zhylkaydarov - Kozy, Aishabegim Kurmanbek - Bayan, Arlan Eldosuly - Kodar), who feel so naturally on stage!

It should be noted that the performance plays of George Kovtun are always densely populated: one can only admire the mastery of the choreographer to work with large masses! Therefore, not only the entire troupe of the theater, but also students of the Kazakh National Academy of Choreography and college students were involved in this performance.

Thus, the exposition of the future drama is already announced in the prologue: the birth of Kozy Korpesh, Bayan Sulu and Wolf (Kodar) is projected onto a future love triangle, and the murder of the Wolf by the parents of Bayan and Kozy ties their fates into a tight knot, which can only be untied by the death of all the heroes. The theme of moral responsibility for one's actions becomes the main motive of the play.

The choreographer himself admits that for the first time the theme of evil in his ballet is solved so ambiguously: “Evil is usually very easy to embody on stage,” says Georgy Kovtun. - It is bright and can be painted with large strokes, with one paint. And it always turns out a strong and memorable image. One of my early ballets was called “The Tale of Good and Evil”. In this case everything is not so clear. And I think the audience, coming to this hall, will empathize with evil in the form of a young wolf.”

And so it happened. The Wolf-Kodar theme has become one of the brightest in both choreography and ballet music. And the image of Kodar in Kovtun's interpretation has lost its negative characteristic. The director offers the viewer a situation where the negative character has the right to his negative reaction. The reason for his actions lies in the evil that was once done to him and his mother. Lack of love in childhood gives rise to the inability to love, fear gives rise to aggression, the memory of the wrongs caused the desire to take revenge. All this is expressed by the choreographer in the first monologue of Wolf-Kodar, solved with the help of modern plastique.

Such an unexpected solution to the image of Kodar was born largely due to music, in which Kodar's theme is filled with strength and passion, longing for lost childhood and a thirst for love. A wolf cub fed by a wolf pack, deprived of maternal affection, is steadily drawn to people. And he goes to them, taking the form of a man.

The choreographer divides the performance into scenes that dynamically follow one after another. Each brings a new state of the characters, a new, sometimes unexpected plot twist. The actors involved in the play admit that despite the large number of tricks, the variety of styles of the dance, the main difficulty for the performers, especially the main parts, was this instant switching of the emotional state. At the same time, the ballet does not have the divertissement character that is so common among choreographers. The intrigue woven into the plastic fabric develops from scene to scene, the transitions between them are logically built, both in music and in choreography.

Like his teacher, the outstanding choreographer Nikolai Boyarchikov, Georgy Kovtun composes a performance, not dances for it. A performance is full of effective dance. In the dance scenes, the characters of the characters are revealed, comedic situations are tied up and resolved. The director generously interweaves elements of pantomime, acrobatics, even buffoonery into the choreographic structure. And he actively uses the space of the stage, generously populating it with a world: wagons, swings, multi-level platforms in the side wings - everything is populated by artists who do not just portray extras, but live the life of their characters almost according to Stanislavsky.

The stage design of the performance, created by production designer Andrei Zlobin, video artist Dmitry Shamov and lighting designer Alexei Markov, helps both artists and spectators enter into these supposed circumstances, into the atmosphere of an oriental bazaar. The technical capabilities of the Astana Ballet Theater allow you to work with the most advanced stage technologies. But in this performance, the directors turned to the traditional soft and hard theatrical scenery, and the backstage and backdrops were hand-painted by the masters of the theater's scenery shop.

The picturesque canvases of the scenery were complemented by the delicate color scheme of the costumes (costume designer A. Ipatyeva), which favorably emphasized the choreography. The set designer managed to masterfully create a distant perspective, the stage of the Astana Ballet Theater gained depth, and well-exposed light created a warm sunny atmosphere in the pictures of the oriental bazaar and an exciting, mystical scene in the scenes of wolves and the White Elder. A huge number of props were made in the workshops of the theater in a short time and with excellent quality. The reliability of the objective world in Kovtun's performances is of great importance, since the choreographer-director actively involves objects in the game.

At the same time, the choreographer is not afraid of the most complex forms of organizing the action, forming a simultaneous playing space, at every point of which something happens every minute. A puppeteer putting on a show in the middle of the square; horsemen competing in strength and dexterity in a wrestling dance; sellers of carpets and utensils, among which is the figure of an unlucky carpet merchant who gets into comic situations and causes constant laughter in the hall. At the same time, the luxurious dance scene does not become just an ethnographic picture, but actively serves the development of the plot. In this scene, for the first time, Kodar, who has taken on the form of a man, clashes with people and the first quarrel between Kodar and Kozy takes place.

In dance and pantomime, the relationship between Kozy and Bayan develops, from childishness and childish play to the emergence of a serious feeling. The stage technique found by Grigorovich (when the light suddenly dims in the midst of the mass scene, and the characters are left alone in the inner space of their feelings) is used by the choreographer during the first love duet of Bayan Sulu and Kozy Korpesh. The lyrical adagio is filled with the light of an emerging feeling, the gentle cantilena of movements echoes the wonderful music, merges with it.

The tandem composer-choreographer works perfectly in this case. Georgy Kovtun knows how to read and listen to the music score, what he was taught at the Leningrad Conservatory named after Rimsky-Korsakov. And the symphonic music of Aktota Raimkulova is so rich in nuances, various shades of feelings, and, at the same time, so expressive that the artists simply dissolve in it. The soloists of the theater Darina Kairasheva and Sundet Sultanov are ideally suited to the image of their heroes, the director Georgy Kovtun always accurately selects the actors for the roles.

Each of them introduces traits of his character into the party, they do not dance conditional ballet heroes, in their performance Bayan and Kozy acquire the real features of a shy Kazakh girl and an ardent young horseman.

The lyrical scene ends and the noisy atmosphere of the bazaar bursts onto the stage again. The director switches the attention of the audience. And now it is chained to the Dollmaker (Ilya Manaenkov) - he presents his creation - Orteke. This dance is the undoubted success of the choreographer, a witty paraphrase of the puppet version of the Kazakh dance "Orteke".

The bazaar of the first act is one of the best scenes of the performance, here the skill of the director Kovtun is most clearly manifested, who in a ten-minute choreographic fragment was able to show the picturesque world of the oriental bazaar, create a large number of genre scenes, and also develop the relationship of the main characters. The best were episodes in which directing and dance naturally combined, complementing each other. We don't even need to read the libretto, the dramaturgy of the first act is so clear and logical. Kodar, unable to express his feelings for Bayan, follows her like a silent shadow, their entire first duet passes without a single touch.

Contrasting in mood genre scene in a yurt, a matchmaking scene. And then - Kodar's dance with a wolf pack, when he conceives his insidious plan to attack Karabay and Sarybay. Now he is already a wolf, and this is expressed in his plasticity. It should be noted the skill of the theater make-up artists, who created an amazing make-up for Kodar and the wolves, and the masters of the sewing workshop sewed wolf skins, which on stage cannot be distinguished from real ones.

Another hunt, it echoes the initial scene of the ballet, when Sarybay and Karabay hunted the pregnant She-Wolf and killed her. Now the situation is reversed - the wolves attack the wagon in which the parents of Bayan and Kozy go to the market. Sarybai dies in a fight with wolves. Following the conceived plan, Kodar appears in the role of a savior batyr. Now Father Bayan owes him his life.

The second act is not so dynamic and full of action. One might think that the dramatic spring is weakening, the development of relations between the characters and their characteristics also lose their dynamism. But at the beginning of the second act there is a stunning monologue by Kodar (Yerkanat Yermagambet), going to the musical theme "Tolgau", which is so loved by domestic choreographers. Only here this soul-grabbing music is given to the wolf-man, and unexpectedly, completely different, tragic notes are heard in its sound. This is Kodar's personal tragedy, his longing for his mother, his plea for love.

Leaving a detailed analysis of the musical score of the ballet to musicologists, I would like to note the integrity of the musical score, the logical transition between scenes, and at the same time the depth of the images that the composer Aktoty Raimkulova declares in her music. It seems no coincidence that the extraordinary soulful and at the same time powerful sound of those heroes who flow intertwined with each other, penetrating into the dominant theme of the White Elder. In Kovtun's choreography, such interlacing has its own plastic motif:

The elder connects the heads of different heroes with a gesture, as if saying that you are all made of the same clay, everything in the world is interconnected - the actions and intentions of one person will surely respond in the fate of another. And this again shows the sensitive attitude of the choreographer to the musical material.

The final battle between Kodar and Kozy brings passions to a culmination. The choreographer is especially good at fighting scenes, he uses the entire arsenal of available plastic means in them: dance, acrobatics, elements of martial arts, and various effects. So, almost defeated Kodar, standing at the left side, at the last moment pulls out a spear and with a powerful throw, throws it across the whole stage towards Kozy. Throw - and immediately struck in the heart with a spear of the enemy, Kozy falls dead. The viewer does not have time to follow the flight path, but is almost sure that the spear really hit the artist.

At the end of the performance, the place originally conceived by the director is occupied by moving rocks-balbals, which were present throughout the ballet as silent witnesses of the unfolding tragedy. Depending on the situation, they became both rocks from which wolves descended, and a crevice with a waterfall, and a wolf hole. At the very beginning, a murdered wolf mother was buried in one of them. The second rock served as a tomb for Kozy, pierced by a spear.

When, in the finale, the braiding scene begins, the inconsolable beauty, located on the top of the well-rock, entangles Kodar with her long braids. But she does not seek to lift him up, and does not cut off his braids, but, on the contrary, entangles him until the rocks close over him, burying him forever under herself. Bayan herself, unable to survive the separation from her beloved, dies in the arms of the White Elder. He lays her down inside the fourth rock...

Georgy Kovtun composed a dramatic ballet, which is based on an ancient plot about Good and Evil. The plot that underlies every legend, every truly valuable work of art. This plot is also the basis of most of his ballets, in which he not only expresses himself, but explores life, solves life issues that are important for the artist. And with each job, reflections on life become more and more difficult. Now it is no longer enough for him to compose a simple fairy tale about good and evil. It's important to find answers. And the plot of the ancient Kazakh legend offers its own answers to these questions, which the choreographer heard and showed in his own way. And as a reminder, as a warning, 4 rocks-tombs remain on the stage, inside which Kozy, Bayan, Kodar and Mother Wolf found their peace and immortality.

Someone has long formed and carries in his heart the images of Kozy and Bayan, and someone will accept such an interpretation of the ancient legend. But the audience cannot but be touched by this story and the message of the authors, about the need for love and about its creative power. And all this sounds in life-affirming music hovering above the stage, to the sounds of which a boy and a girl run out onto the stage and fall into the arms of the White Elder. Life goes on…

Author: Flyura Musina, ballet critic