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Shostakovich pro-Soviet ballet triumphs at the Bolshoi Theater

It was supposed to be a ballet fit for a party boss: Winsome maids from the local collective farm prance around the stage carrying five-foot long potatoes, while happy Soviet farmers celebrate yet another bountiful harvest.

But communist dictator Joseph Stalin gave Dmitri Shostakovich's ballet "The Bright Stream" a thumbs down when it premiered in 1935 - it seemed too frivolous for the New Soviet Man.

After seven decades of oblivion, the ballet has completed its rehabilitation in the canon of musical masterpieces: This month, Alexei Ratmansky, artistic director of Moscow's Bolshoi Theater, won a prestigious award for his 2003 revival of the work.

Fittingly, the prize is named after Shostakovich himself.

Stalin commissioned "The Bright Stream" to combat rumors, which were true, of a government-instigated famine in Ukraine that killed millions. It was a smash hit, but Stalin hated it and his bad review forced "The Bright Stream" to abruptly close.

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