(Susanna Beyer’s and Mattias Schepp’s article, translated by Christopher Sultan, appeared in Der Spiegel, 10/27.)

The Russian word awos is hard to translate into English. It means "perhaps" and "hopefully," but awos is also a broader term that conveys the notion that, in the chaos of existence, everything will eventually turn out for the best. These days, awos aptly describes the mood at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater.

The theater has one of the richest traditions of all Europe's stages. It is famous for opera and, most of all, for its ballet company. With its 200 dancers, the Bolshoi Ballet is the world's largest dance company. The theater was closed for six years. During that time, its dancers and singers performed in another building while the main building was being renovated at a cost of €570 million ($798 million).

The reopening ceremony for the theater will be held this Friday as part of a spectacle to be broadcast live in theaters worldwide, on television and online. But, at the moment, workers from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are still scraping bits of adhesive from the steps. It smells of paint, and in the stage-set storage area 20 meters (66 feet) underground, water still leaks through the ceiling whenever it rains. The principal dancers are practicing for the big gala event on a rehearsal stage.


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