Based on a famous short story by Anton Chekov, The Lady with the Little Dog traces in eloquent dance the plight of two married lovers, (Anna and Dmitri in Chekov's story), caught in the conflicting emotions of an illicit love affair.
The ballet was conceived to honor two famous Russians, Chekhov on the 150th anniversary of his birth and legendary ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, on her 85th birthday. Miroshnichenko chose music that originally had been composed for ballet by Rodion Shchedrin for Plisetskaya, his wife, on her 60th birthday, which she had choreographed for herself.
In Miroshnichenko's interpretation, eight "angels" act as fates, sometimes whimsical and kind, sometimes cruel. They use a symbolic prop, a strip that can be rolled out to keep the lovers apart or rolled up to allow them to come together. The choreographer conveys the conflict and emotions of two people who discover real love for the first time. The little dog does appear on stage, but only in a brief cameo role.
Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932) was born in Moscow to a musical family; his father was a composer and teacher of music theory. He studied at the Moscow Choral School and the Moscow Conservatory. Since 1958 he has been married to the great Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya. His compositions transcend a range of styles from tonal to serialism, often incorporating folk themes. His music won popularity in the west through the work of cellist Mstislav Rostropovich who made several recordings of his compositions. Among his most famous works are the ballets The Little Humpbacked Horse (1955), Carmen Suite (1967), Anna Karenina (1971); the operas Not Only Love (1961) and Dead Souls (1976, after Gogol's novel); and piano concertos, symphonies, chamber, piano, and choral works. He has received numerous international awards; the most recent have been an appointment in 2005 as honorary professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, the Russian State Order 2nd Class for "services to his country" in 2007, and an appointment as honorary professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 2008.