Editor, Restorer and Teacher: Mikhail Messerer
Saint Petersburg



ENTERTAINMENT

Editor, Restorer and Teacher

 
 
provided by Mikhailovsky Theatre

This autumn has seen the premiere of Sergey Prokofiev’s scintillating ballet “Cinderella” at the Mikhailovsky Theatre.

Audiences have seen a modern version of the classic 1945 production. Its main feature is its successful combination of classical ballet and contemporary stage technology. The computerized visual effects coexist peacefully with the traditional costumes and props. The ballet has been reconstructed by producer-director Mikhail Messerer.

How important is it these days to restore Soviet ballets? Many people think they have already outlived their time.

I think that in this case the public decides. And it seems to me that the public have said unequivocally that it is necessary.

Why did you particularly choose “Cinderella”?

“Cinderella” is a brilliant work by Prokofiev, the 125th anniversary of whose birth we celebrated recently. And this autumn we celebrated the 110th anniversary of Rostislav Zakharov’s birth. We looked at many versions of “Cinderella”. In fact, I believe that there is not a perfect version of any ballet — there is always something to find fault with. We settled on Zakharov’s version as the one best suited to our company. I am a teacher first and foremost. It is very important to me to improve the skills of my dancers. I thought that our company would further develop through dancing “Cinderella”. There are many interesting choreographic elements in it — not only for the principal dancers but also for the demi-soloists, character dancers, and even corps de ballet. In “Cinderella” there are virtually no episodes without dance and that is very important.

You said there is no ideal version of a ballet. What is an ideal ballet in your opinion?

An ideal ballet is one which is impossible to find fault with, and there are no such ballets. I think if they existed there would probably be no art. I don’t think there is anything perfect in art. Every artist wants to improve and perfect his work.

In “Cinderella” there are a great many multimedia effects — a bow to contemporary art. How successfully, in your opinion, does multimedia blend into a classical ballet?

It seems to blend in very successfully. I don’t agree with the term “bow”. There are no bows — just the wish to use contemporary technology in those instances when it does not clash with the style of the ballet.

To what extent are you susceptible to fashion trends?

I am not a choreographer, in the sense that I do not compose dance. I am an editor, a restorer and a teacher. So the ballets which we have restored we have restored in the spirit in which they were originally staged, and using the original sketches for the sets and costumes. So the question about introducing modernity for its own sake has never arisen.

How does classical ballet currently differ in Russia, Europe and America?

In Russia classical ballet still survives at the moment and has the prerogative. It is impossible to describe Western ballet in one word — in London it is one thing, in New York another, in Paris something else. There is a tendency to replace the classical genre with modern productions. At the Mikhailovsky Theatre however we believe in everything in moderation, and that is our company’s philosophy. We have a great contemporary repertoire, mainly the ballets of Nacho Duato. They are very good for our dancers’ development. We are staging classical ballets from the 19th century such as “Swan Lake”, “Don Quixote” and “Le Corsaire” in versions quite different to those in the Mariinsky or Bolshoi Theatres. We are restoring so-called “Soviet ballets”, which is our speciality. And they are the three pillars on which our company firmly relies and should continue to do so.

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