“Where the real drama happens offstage,” claims the trailer for Bolshoi Babylon, an understated but high-drama documentary about the present-day scandal and politics of the Bolshoi Ballet.
Indeed, while considered the foremost ballet company in the world by many, the Bolshoi’s dysfunctions were publicly and violently exposed by a shocking physical attack on its Artistic Director in its very recent past. In the film, backstage intrigues and the distressed commentary of dancers reflecting on those events are buttressed by flawless, glittering performances by those same artists. It seems that the height of all that is best about ballet and art intersects sometimes with its extreme opposite, and Bolshoi Babylon capitalizes on this with a stylistic presentation of the story as a fascinating metaphor for that dichotomy.
Bolshoi Babylon is premieres this Monday, December 21, 2015, on HBO exclusively.