The BALLET THEME column invites the readers to participate in a
conversation between reporter Stanislava Shchukova and conductor Alexander
Sotnikov. The main idea of the interview is presented in its very title:
“A Ballet Conductor Has Two Scores – One Musical and one Choreographic.”
Indeed, the profession of ballet conductor is very peculiar and absolutely
unique. This is not a new problem, and it has more than once been addressed
in magazines’ publications. Today, we are offered an insight of what conductors
themselves think of it. Do they believe a specialization in “the business
of conducting” is necessary? Alexander Sotnikov, one of the sought-after
Russian musicians, who has worked with troupes of different styles all
over Russia and in many other countries, shares his reflections upon the
specific character of ballet conducting, upon qualities a maestro should
possess, and upon the current situation in the world of dance. Incidentally,
quite recently he cooperated with Boris Eifman at the staging of the ballet
Tchaikovsky on stage of the Staatsoper of Berlin.
The BALLET-PARADE column contains several articles.
– Yelena Presniakova reports of the First National Festival of Choreographic
Art of Russian Towns and Medium-Sized Cities titled Ballet My Dream held
within the framework of the open forum, The Arts of the Russian Provinces.
The festival was held at the town of Pokhvistnevo, Samara Oblast. The forum
has concluded that the culture of classical dance in the Russian provinces
is reviving. Such is the opinion of Sergey Filatov, Chairman of the Festival’s
jury and Chairman of Choreography at the Russian Academy of Theatrical
Arts, who shared his impressions of the festival, of the ways the festival’s
program had been composed, and how the judging criteria had been developed.
– The Dance Open Festival in St. Petersburg enjoys a high reputation
for having a “broad democratic soul”. Ballet critic Natalia Zozulina seconds
the opinion, writing, “The Dance Open is mainly held in ballet classes,
and its cornerstone is mentorship in the profession, which all those who
are willing might get in touch with. There are scores of such people coming
from all over Russia and abroad”. The Festival the writer reports on was
held recently for the fifth time. The Mariinsky Theater ballet repetiteurs
Lubov Kunakova and Sergei Berezhnoy held master classes first, followed
by foreign masters. Young artistes had had a chance to take classes under
instructors from the Mariinsky as well as from the A. Vaganova Academy
of Russian Ballet, such as Irina Chistiakova, Elvira Tarasova and Gennadi
Seliutsky. Choreographer Vassili Medvedev reviews the festival in an interview
presented here by Elena Popova.
– “A little part of me will live in anyone who is ever to dance on
stage”. These words uttered by Rudolf Nureyev have long become the motto
of the festival movement that took start in the city of Ufa over ten year
ago. Nina Zhilenko reports of the 12th Rudolf Nureyev International Festival
of Ballet Art, whose honorary president was Yuri Grigorovich. Many Russian
and foreign artists consider it an honor to dance in Nureev’s hometown
and on the stage which retains memories of his young inspiration. Dancers
from Brazil, Italy, Belgium, and France have visited here. This year’s
Festival was held within the framework of the festivities honoring the
450th anniversary of the annexation of Bashkiria to Russia. The audiences
of Ufa had warmly welcomed the Kremlin Ballet Theater of Moscow, which
presented the Sergey Prokofiev ballet Romeo and Juliet staged by Yuri Grigorovich
and two productions in the rendition of the Theater’s leader Andrei Petrov
– Napoleon Bonaparte to the music of Tikhon Khrennikov and Ruslan and Lyudmila
to Mikhail Glinka’s opera score arranged for ballet by V. Agafonnikov.
Les Sylfides with Mariinsky’s principal dancers became a lyrical center
of the Festival. A Spanish pair in Don Quixote enjoyed a great success.
The principals of National Opera of Latvia who performed the major parts
in The Sleeping Beauty exercised self-restraint well befitting their Baltic
– Moscow Limelight was “lit” in the capital city for the sixth time
and once again gathered troupes and principal dancers representing different
dimensions of contemporary dance. “We do not confine our participants within
this or that style”, Nikolai Basin says. “The only thing that matters for
us is the harmony of music, dance and human body”. This year’s geographical
scope includes Germany, Holland, Spain, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Canada,
South Africa, and, of course, Russia. The productions shown there left
mixed impressions, but each one did expand the Moscow audiences’ perceptions
of such a complex phenomenon as contemporary dance, enriched their knowledge
of its diverse styles and of direction in which different national schools
develop, and introduced new and interesting artistes, the seekers of the
new in choreography.
– Rustic Gatherings of Tver’ is material presented by Galina Inozemtseva.
The region of Tver’ is the homeland of Tatiana Ustinova, a great 20th century
choreographer. Even having become a world-renowned master she had never
forgotten her native land and had always strived to keep aflame the love
of folk arts among her countrymen. She had always promoted folk dance and
supported local amateur dancers. The T. A. Ustinova Regional Russian Folk
Dance Competition is held in Tver’ every other year and in 2006 was held
for the tenth time. Its organizers, the Tver’ Regional House of Folk Arts
and the Department of Culture of the Oblast of Tver’, have declared the
competition open, which made it possible to invite participants from other
oblasts – those of Moscow, Tambov, and Vologda. As a result, the competition
proved rather large scale as almost thirty collective participants came
to Tver’. Chairperson of the Competition, Lidia Ustinova, the daughter
of Tatiana Ustinova, relates of the details of the Competition’s progress.
The column A NAME IN BALLET presents an essay by Roman Volodchenkov
about the Kremlin Ballet Theater prima ballerina Janna Bogoroditskaya.
The NEW BALLET column presents Russian theaters’ premiere productions.
– The Opera and Ballet Theater of Yekaterinburg gave birth to an
unusual Don Quixote, one of those productions that have of late come to
be dubbed “exclusive”. Alexander Maksov, who attended the opening night,
was spellbound by the organic combination of the “canon” and the originality
wrought by the troupe’s leader Viatcheslav Gordeyev, who chose to present
the story of the Ingenious Hidalgo in his own way. The external optimism
of the well-known ballet story conceals the loneliness of two idealists…
– Alena Korchagina reflects upon the notion that “provincial theaters
are a salvation for young choreographers”. “In those theaters, the young
neophytes who are just acquiring a name for themselves manage to embody
their designs much more often than they do in big-city ones. Among them
is Nicholai Markelov, a graduate of the A. Vaganova Academy of Russian
Ballet’s Choreography Department. He was cordially accepted into the Opera
and Ballet Theater of Izhevsk (the capital city of Udmurtia) and soon put
forth an exciting world premiere, that of the two-act ballet Gone With
the Wind to the musical collage compiled of the tunes by various composers
including A. Dvorak, F. Mendelssohn, V. Salmanov, A. Schoenberg, and A.
– Valeri Vladimirov presents a detailed analysis of the new production
of Notre Dame de Paris at the Musical Theater of Irkutsk. “Having made
the cathedral itself the principal character of the spectacle, its
creators – staging choreographer S. Kurianinov and art director N. Mikhailov,
both of Krasnoyarsk – shifted the emphasis from the sphere of scenery to
that of plastique – as far, of course, as the music by Ts. Puni allows
for. S. Kurianinov’s choreographic language is traditional both in the
carnival scenes and in ‘palace’ episodes, where the ‘antique’ pantomime
looks both exquisite and ironic at the same time… In the scenes full
of ominous pathos – the judgment and condemnation of Esmeralda, the stake,
and especially Claude’s preaching – the major accents are put in a manner
precisely calculated to whet the audiences’ impressions. The epilogue is
in fact a monologue of Quasimodo, who, in despair of his poetic dream lost,
beats about the pinnacle’s top as if on a peak of the cathedral’s ‘mountain
range’ and clappers its bells’ tongs as if ringing a worldwide alarm of
his great pain.”
– “Contemporary dance is able to turn emptiness into an audible and
visible plot. Like any kind of poetry, it has to poise itself between the
specific and sensual on the one hand and the universal and abstract on
the other”, opines Vladimir Mirzoyev. In support of his view he brings
forth the production by choreographer Larisa Aleksandrova An Upwind Journey.
“Two young couples make up a quartet which easily breaks up onto nocturnal
duos which in turn break up further still… Sometimes the choreographer
freezes half a step short of her own thought. The executioner and his victim
must switch places because they inevitably and inescapably reflect each
other… Contemporary dance is, of course, a marginal art form, and yet it
is here that the genuine poetry of the stage takes its abode. An Upwind
Journey is a brutal spectacle, yet it is poetry and storm rather than just
a phys-ed class.”
– Towards the end of its 75th anniversary season, the Opera and Ballet
Theater of Samara issued a premiere production of the ballet Beatles Forever!
reviewed here by Valeri Ivanov.
of a ballet about the legendary foursome of Liverpool was conceived by
Nadezhda Malygina, who is also the ballet’s librettist and staging choreographer.
She also commissioned the music to Arthur Mitinian, a symphonist composer
and once leader of rock-group, who had created compositions in the style
of oriental rock. Beatles Forever! was designed in a “non-orthodox format”,
being not just an action ballet but rather a generalized construct, which
should, on the one hand, communicate the spirit of The Beatles as a unique
phenomenon to which the middle generation of our contemporaries had been
of an age, and, on the other hand, correspond to aesthetic criteria and
tastes of the diverse audiences belonging to the new century… The spirit
of the production proved akin to the young artistes. They present the many-faced
character of “us” which is embodied with rare energy and enthusiasm.”
Larissa Abyzova presents a lengthy article on the occasion of the
great composer Dmirty Shostakovich’s centennial. He, just like P. I. Tchaikovsky,
composed the music for three ballets. Yet, while Tchaikovsky’s works have
been alive on stage for well over a hundred years, the ballets of Shostakovich
only started their theatrical life-journey in the late 20th century.
writer depicts the turbulent and eventful 1930’s and, on their background,
the young Shostakovich just in his twenties. He frequents the Mariinsky
Theater and admires its remarkable masters. This was not, therefore, an
accident that he turned to ballet and wrote the score of The Golden Age.
A year later, in 1931, he composed the ballet A Screw-bolt, and after a
short while, in 1935, A Bright Stream. The fate of the composer’s ballet
legacy had been tragic. A series of unfair bans turned him away from ballet
theater for ever. Still, his music lives on stage. Today there is every
reason to speak of Shostakovich’s ballet theater. Two works are the most
popular – The Leningrad Symphony by Igor Belsky and A Damsel and a Bully
by Constantin Boyarsky. His music attracts many ballet masters both in
Russia and abroad. The writer presents a detailed analysis of the anniversary
performances on stage of the Mariinsky Theater.
The WORLD OF BALLET column opens with the article The Logbook of
Pina Baucsh by Victor Ignatov. “The German dancer, choreographer and film
director, director of Wuppertal Tanztheater has for over quarter century
fruitfully cooperated with the Paris Opera Ballet. Each year the Wuppertal
troupe has closed the season in Paris, and each year it has been sold out.
This year it was Rough Cut created in Seoul, which had hosted the troupe
Igor Zapravdin presents news from the ballet troupe of the Vienna
Staatsopera, which has more and more often manifested the trend towards
preservation of classical dance traditions. Their last premiere, that of
the ballet Onegin, confirms that view. “This is not just a choreographic
rendition of Pushkin’s masterpiece but rather a story of the state of Russian
soul recreated on stage by the outstanding choreographer John Cranco with
an amazingly delicate handling and even with awe.” The nearest plans of
the Staatsopera include a comeback of yet another masterpiece of J. Cranco’s
– Romeo and Juliet by S. Prokofiev.
Dance Everybody! is a sketch by Svetlana Naborshchikova covering
the Kuopio Dance Festival which takes place at the popular Finnish resort
Kuopio. The organizers take a special pride in the diversity of dance.
Besides professional performances, the Festival’s program includes numerous
training courses ranging from classical to break dance, and makes sure
to present local amateur dance companies. The amateur dancers perform just
about anywhere as long as any spot, even barely suitable, presents itself,
be it a club, park or town square.
The only Russian company participating in the Festival was the dance
group of the Pskov Choir, the city of Pskov being a sister-city of
Kuopio. The writer also recalls the performances by two European companies
– the youth troupe of the Netherlands Dance Theater (NDT-2) and the Italian
The advisory A Return of the Swans informs of the main event at the
National Theater of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – a comeback of Swan
Lake after fifteen years’ absence. The Russian choreographer Vassili Medvedev,
who staged the Tchaikovsky ballet, kept intact the famous swan scenes staged
by Lev Ivanov.
Clara Antonova and Sergey Chadov present the first part of the article
The Architects of the Theater dealing with the ballet troupe of Cheliabinsk.
“29 September, 1956, the day the new theater in Cheliabinsk was open, became
a birthday, not only of opera, but of the Cheliabinsk ballet. The ballet
troupe appeared on stage already at the very first performance – that of
the opera Prince Igor, in the Dances of Polovtsians, and a few days later
showed the immortal creation of P. I. Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake.” The article
covers in detail the first two decades of the Cheliabinsk ballet, its choreographers
and coaches. A discussion of the company’s present-day life will follow.
To be continued.
Ballet Class by Nina Krotova is dedicated to the jubilee of the State
Choreography School of Novosibirsk. “December of 1956 is the starting point
in the history of this unique school. Fifty years, 44 graduate classes,
over 600 ballet artists! It all began when the USSR Ministry of Culture
decreed a creation of a choreography school in the capital city of Siberia,
since the young and growing Opera and Ballet Theater of Novosibirsk desperately
needed cadre. The theater was first open in the victorious May of 1945.
The grand building symbolized, as it were, the moral courage of the Siberians.
During the first decade the troupe had acquired some bright ballet artists,
alumni of the major choreography schools, mainly of Moscow and Leningrad.”
The article goes on to present the coaches who pioneered the ballet training
in Novosibirsk, the choreographers who staged the first productions in
the austere Siberian climes, and the students who have glorified the school.
The article is to be continued in the next issue.
The INFORM-BALLET column is, as usual, diverse of topic.
– The sketch A Wonder of Selection by Olga Shkarpetkina covers a
result-presenting concert by the students of the Bolshoy Theater School
in Brazil held on the New Stage of the Bolshoy in Moscow. The program was
comprised of the divertimento and suite from The Nutcracker in the choreographic
rendering and staging by Vladimir Vasiliev.
– Anna Chernetsova’s sketch is dedicated to one of the Russian followers
of Isadora Duncan, Ludmila Nikolaevna Alekseeva, who created her own training
system of “rhythmic harmony”. Alekseeva’s gymnastics has been around for
over ninety years now and has lost no appeal, which was yet again proven
by a result-presenting concert by the Artistic Movement Studio under Inessa
– Roman Volodchenkov’s sketch covers the premiere of the ballet Martin
Luther that took place in Moscow at the Salut Cultural Palace. The two-act
spectacle about the life of the great church reformer was staged by Dmitry
Bugayev, a young choreographer from Saratov. The premiere was also a presentation
of a new company, The Theater of Russian Ballet, headed by D. Bugayev.
– August 1, 2006, became the birthday of the Choreography School
of Saratov. It was a dream come true for the local votaries of Terpsichore
(the Opera and Ballet Theater of Saratov is 75 years old, and the Russian
Folk Choir of the Volga with a unique dance company has existed there for
over 50 years). Long have they dreamed of a specialized school for training
professional ballet artists. Valery Ivanov covers this important event
in the life of the Samara province.
– Alexander Maksov’s article deals with debuts at the closing of
the season at the Bolshoy Theater. Yekaterina Krysanova danced the principal
part in Cinderella, while her schoolmate Anna Nikulina did Prince’s friend
in Swan Lake. The debut of Maria Aleksandrova as Carmen proved memorable.
Among the debutants were Svetlana Lunkina, Yegor Khromushin, Nina Kaptsova,
Viacheslav Lopatin, and Karim Abdullin. Artiom Shpilevsky, formerly principal
dancer of the Berlin Staatsopera, marked his joining the Bolshoy Ballet
with a successful debut as Espada in Don Quixote.