The Bolt

An exhibition at the Gallery for Russian Art and Design, Little Portland Street, London, recalls a ballet, The Bolt, performed just once in Soviet Moscow in 1931 before being banned.


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The plot was by Victor Lopukhov – a factory worker plans to throw a bolt into the new machinery but is challenged and stopped by his more faithful colleagues.  The ballet was choreographed by Fyodor Lopukhov, music was by Shostakovich and designs by Tatiana Bruni.

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The political trials in Soviet Russia of the 1930s made the ballet very topical. On one hand it had creative fervour, experimental spirit and enterprise. One the other it encouraged originality that could threaten the new political theory. Lopukhov wrote: “Comrade Smirnov has read me the libretto. Its theme is extremely relevant. There once was a machine. Then it broke down (problem of material decay). Then it was mended (problem of revitalisation) and at the same time they bought a new one. Then everybody dances around the new machine. Apotheosis.”

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