Zagreb Blog

The Great Gatsby Ballet at Arena Zagreb (Photos)

By 16 October 2017

“I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”

The cultural offer in Zagreb just keeps getting better and more diverse – not that there’s anything wrong with your good old plays, concerts, exhibitions, or book promotions, but don’t you just love it when there’s a twist somewhere in there?

Grič Tunnel, for example, is the last place you’d think of when imaging a location for an opera, and yet, it happened, and I got a chance to attend a Great Gatsby-themed modern ballet show at Arena Zagreb on October 14, organised by ARTentainment.

Now, as my experience in capturing events for business purposes is still somewhat limited, I apologise for the photos and videos, which could’ve been done a)more professionally, b)not from a kilometre away, but I ran away from the press centre as soon as I got there to catch a seat in the crowded Arena. I was selfish, I know, it won't happen again.

The turnout was huge, with a mixed audience of people of all ages, and quite a few people sporting a 1920s look, which was a great touch.


The show started at 8.10 and even though I thought people would be taking photos all the time, a miracle in the digital era happened – you could only see an odd display light here and there, but people were genuinely infatuated with the gracefulness and the elegance of the harmonised troupe onstage. A few minutes into the show and money started raining down, setting the well-known story about the rich entrepreneur Jay Gatsby, portrayed perfectly by Denis Matvienko, a famous ballet dancer, who is also the show’s art director, and who definitely gave Leonardo DiCaprio a run for his money as the best Jay Gatsby.



Franka Batelić sang the audience into the story and everyone started watching the grace and the elegance of the dancers on the stage, telling the story of Jay and his beloved Daisy, recreating wild parties that he used to throw, full of confetti and people swinging from the chandeliers, and 50 minutes went by in a flash.

The setting was simple – a few chairs and tables, with a metal construction getting the chandeliers up and down, and the dancers’ performance was so magnificent that they honestly didn’t need anything else.


The only problem was the fact that Arena Zagreb is so huge – so anyone who was further away couldn’t really see what was going on. Luckily, there were images in the background, setting the mood and helping the viewers who were seated way up in the stands decipher what was going on. Still, it was in line with the spirit of Jay Gatsby, who said “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”


The curtains closed and we couldn’t wait for the ten-minute break to pass to see what else Dwight Rhoden, the show’s director and choreographer, had in store. The famous choreographer has done dance sequences for Hollywood films and worked with Cirque du Soleil and artists such as Lenny Kravitz, so you could tell that this was a world-class spectacle.




Konstantin Meladze’s music numbers provided a glorious musical background to the story, and producers Alexandr and Alexey Polevie made sure that everything runs smoothly.
Another musical number by Franka Batelić took place in the second part, and 50 minutes was over, and the audience was ecstatic, applauding for several minutes for the troupe on stage.





It was a magnificent show, full of spectacular emotions and awe-inspiring dance moves transporting you back in time and causing the audience to keep looking at the stage the same way that Jay looked at Daisy – in a way that every young girl, or in this case, every performer, wants to be looked at.