Saint Petersburg


Fairytales and Meanings

Ekaterina Galanova © Ksenia Poggenpol

In April Dance Open, the greatest international ballet festival in Russia, will present a mixture of world masterpieces and premieres by legendary contemporary choreographers.

The productions of the festival’s 17th season can be seen on the Alexandrinsky Theatre’s Main Stage from 2 to 17 April. The programme features the best ballets of Maillot, Wheeldon, Dawson, van Manen, Ratmansky, Pastor, Verbruggen, Ekman, Klug and Inger. Ekaterina Galanova, Producer and Artistic Director of Dance Open, will help you find your way through the intricacies of the programme and choose a ballet that will appeal to you.

How can people make their choice, do you think? After all, some watch only classical ballet, others only experimental works...

One of our festival’s most interesting characteristics is that we bring in productions that vary greatly in style, idea and performance. Those who prefer classical ballet should choose the opening night of the festival, when the Yekaterinburg Ballet will perform “La fille mal gardée”. It is a wonderfully light, humorous production with classical dance and stunning scenery and costumes in the style of Van Gogh. It flies by in a single breath. The latest version of the oldest ballet to come down to us has been created by Sergey Vikharev to the choreography of Marius Petipa.

“La fille mal gardée” © Olga Kerelyuk

On 6 and 7 April the Monte Carlo Ballet will present Jean-Christophe Maillot’s incredibly touching and, I would even say, esoteric version of “Cinderella”. In my opinion Maillot is a fantastic ballet-master and “Cinderella”is one of his best ballets: it is kind of neo-classical in terms of the dancing, the costumes and the scenery. The ballet is nearly twenty years old, but this will be its first performance in Russia. Jean-Christophe Maillot tells the fairytale we all know from childhood, but with a different accent: as a result it is a ballet about...the mother. It is a topical tale for everybody without exception, not only for the owners of glass slippers. Pignon-Ernest’s scenery and Jerome Kaplan’s figurative costumes are also wonderful.

“Cinderella” © Alice Blangero

Is that the only contemporary fairytale in the programme?

No, on 13 April the Geneva Grand Theatre will perform “The Nutcracker” in a production by the star of original ballet Jeroen Verbruggen. It is an absolutely phantasmagorical contemporary blockbuster of a fairytale for adults, closer to dance theatre than to classical ballet. It is actually designed in that way – in the style of Tim Burton’s films.

“The Nutcracker” © Gregory Batardon

And what should those who wish to see something more contemporary choose?

Of course, the “Made in Amsterdam” evening of contemporary choreography presented by the National Ballet of the Netherlands on 10 April. It will be a ballet dish with an incredible number of ingredients from today’s most sought-after choreographers: David Dawson, Christopher Wheeldon, Alexey Ratmansky, Krzysztof Pastor and Hans van Manen.

An even more radical contemporary story will be told on 15 April by the Slovenian National Theatre from Maribor. Edward Klug, Johan Inger and Alexander Ekman will present fashionable, ironic and provocative productions with unexpected directing departures and a stylishly interesting choreographic language. There is downhill and cross-country skiing and experiments in countering the laws of gravity.

Slovenian National Theatre from Maribor © Tiberiu Marta

And, of course, there is the gala concert on 17 April. It is Dance Open’s visiting card, making the audience realize what ballet is like in today’s world. We bring together various styles, ideas and trends and show them all in one evening performed by the best dancers.

You have forgotten the flamenco evening.

And entirely undeservedly. “The Soul of Flamenco” on 8 April is a new departure for us. The patriarch and legend of the genre Jose Antonio has created an incredibly profound and energetic story and the best flamenco dancers have told it brilliantly, flavoured with pepper and the passion of manic grace and emotions.

“The Soul of Flamenco” © VERONICAP GRANADO

What would be your advice for people wondering whether to prepare especially for each evening?

I don’t think that’s necessary. In my opinion ballet is, in principle, the most accessible type of art in which the language of the body can be understood without words. It very subtly and profoundly conveys all thoughts and emotions (if the choreography and performance are really top-class). I personally think it is impossible to come to a production and not to understand or feel anything. At least, it is impossible at Dance Open. In the productions we have brought the standard of the choreography and dancing is so high that the ballet penetrates to the heart and hits the target.

Where St.Petersburg

September 2018

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