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Spartacus, Bolshoi, Covent Garden, review: with dancing this good, who cares about the choreography?

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Heroic turn: Denis Rodkin
Heroic turn: Denis Rodkin Credit: Alastair Muir

On Monday evening, the Bolshoi (or “Big”) Ballet launched this year’s three-week residency at Covent Garden with the brashest, boldest, indeed most “bolshoi” ballet of all: Yuri Grigorovich’s Spartacus. Created in 1968 by the choreographer who came to define Soviet-era ballet, it appears to have been regarded by the Politburo as the tale of a noble underdog self-sacrificingly taking on a fascistic empire for the greater good. You have to wonder, though, if the wily St Petersburger (now 92) was up to more Kremlin-baiting mischief than they realised.

At any rate, when you haven’t seen this sword-, sandals- and sex-filled melodrama for a while (the Bolshoi haven’t performed it in London since 2010),...

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