On 12 March The Russian Ballet Icons Gala 2017 was performed on the stage of London Colliseum, where students of the Vaganova Ballet Academy were participated.
They performed piece from ballet The Fairy Doll on music by Joseph Bayer, reconstructed in the past year by Nikolay Tsiskaridze for students of Academy. Following the press feedback, people, who came at Sunday evening concert dedicated to heritage of Diaghilev “Russian seasons”, were impressed by the performance.
Our school was presented by Principal of Academy Nikolay Tsiskaridze together with Vlada Borodulina, Polina Bualova, Aleksandra Korshunova, Pavel Mikheev, Eleonora Sevenard, Oscar Frame, Aleksandra Khiteeva, classical dance teacher Tatiana Solomyanko, who gave a workshop for students of National Ballet School.
The Russian Ballet Icons Gala, organized by company Ensemble Production, is held in London every year since 2006. Programs of each concert are full with the names of rising stars and famous dancers, among which are soloists of the best ballet companies of world, including Bolshoi, Mariinsky, Mikhailovsky theatres, Grand Opera de Paris,Berlin Staatsoper and Monte Carlo ballets, the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and New York City Ballet.
"Senior students from the Vaganova Academy in St Petersburg performed a divertissement from The Fairy Doll, choreographed by the Legat brothers in 1903. Nikolay Tsiskaridze, director of the school since 2014, has adapted the choreography for seven of the pupils. The highlight was the pas de trois for The Fairy Doll and two Pierrots: Eleanora Sevenard (class of T.A Udalenkova), with Oscar Frame and Pavel Mikheev (both class of Tsiskaridze). The divert. certainly deserved its place in the gala: the confident students already seem fully fledged for professional employment." (Jann Parry, DanceTabs on March 17).
The Courses for Ye Won Culture Foundation and K- Arts University students took place in February - March 2017 and comprised Classical dance, Character, History dance lessons, Acting skills and well as watching rehearsals of Vaganova Ballet Academy students. The academic part of the schedule included video classes, Vaganova ballet Academy Museum tour with lecture on Russian Ballet history while the cultural program featured Mariinsky Theatre ballet performances.
Click on the picture for large size.
Source: DANSE, November 2016.
The Vaganova Ballet Academy supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation is reviving the International Ballet Competition Vaganova-PRIX for students of choreographic schools, colleges and academies. This year, the seventh edition of the Competition will be held in St. Petersburg on October 23– 29.
The competition is open for male and female dancers aged 15-18 receiving their training at choreographic professional institutions.
To take part in the competition, one needs to complete an application form and submit it to the Organizing committee either online or by mail before September 15. The Organizing committee of the Competition will meet the expenses for accommodations and meals for participants and the non-competing partners through all the days of their participation in the competition events.
The competition will be held in two rounds. The first round will comprise a classical dance lesson with elements of A. Vaganova class (for girls) and V. Ponomaryov (for boys) and will test technical skills of participants. During the second round participants will perform one classical duet or two variations from suggested program list. One of female variations is of A. Vaganova repertoire. Such a program would contribute to the strengthening of the unified educational space in the domain of ballet art as well as promote the achievements of the Russian ballet training system and performing arts.
The jury of the competition approved by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation will individually evaluate each participant on the basis of two rounds using a 25-point assessment score. The winners will get cash prizes and other awards including those provided for by the Vaganova Ballet Academy: a ten-month VBA training and a Prize for the Best partner.
The Vaganova-PRIX awards ceremony and the Gala concert of the prize winners will be held on the historic stage of the Mariinsky Theatre on October 29, 2016.
The competition aims to improve the methodology of classical dance training and enhance the quality of professional ballet education. To cope with this mission the Vaganova Ballet Academy will present master-classes and round-the-table discussions for participants of Vaganova Method Conference and for teachers accompanying the Vaganova-PRIX participants during the competition.
The Vaganova-PRIX was founded by the Vaganova Ballet Academy in 1988. In 1995, the competition acquired its international status. The prize winners of the Vaganova-PRIX Competition include Ulyana Lopatkina (1990), Adrian Fadeev, Svetlana Zakharova, Igor Kolb (1995), Polina Semionova, Mikhail Lobukhin, Ekaterina Krysanova, Vladimir Shklyarov (2002), Vadim Muntagirov (2006) etc.
The competition is being sponsored by Grishko company, The Regional Foundation for Young Artists' Support of Natalia Kosova, the Astoria Hotel, with the Mariinsky and Hermitage Theatres providing their premises for the Vaganova-PRIX events.
The Vaganova Ballet Academy graduate performances were presented on the Mariinsky stage on June 12, 14 and 19. Among the young ballet dancers who took part in them were the graduate students following the Secondary Professional Education Program (7/II), first year students following the Bachelor’s Program*, foreign trainees as well as younger students from grade 1/5 onwards.
For those graduate students who have not only got the graduation certificate this year, but also received a qualification diploma, the graduate performances happened to be a graduation work that was being evaluated, while for those who follow the Bachelor’s program, that was a professional challenge on the threshold of adulthood.
During tsarist rule and over the soviet period, in a Ballet School that was consequently transformed into a Ballet Academy, there has been a tradition of staging small-scale ballets for students both in the course of the academic year and for graduate performances. Sometimes, those ballets were a part of the Mariinsky repertoire, like Les Sylphides, while at other times they were exclusively staged for the ballet school. The VBA principal has decided to revive this tradition: “I had served at the Mariinsky for 18 seasons, participated in the White Nights Festival and my appearances in St. Petersburg have frequently coincided with the VBA graduate performances. Those were overlong boring concerts. I was astonished to see that the children were poorly dressed, improperly combed, that nobody has inculcated a taste for style in them. They were not being taught an artistic profession or the skills of creating a role. The school mainly focused on the athletic fits. The students were unable to understand, that in different ballets – for example, in Don Quixote and The Sleeping Beauty - a pirouette should be done in a different manner and different rhythm. I decided to change that and to give them an opportunity to feel they were a part of the theatrical performance”.
This year the program of the graduate performances included The Polish Ball from Ivan Susanin by Mikhail Glinka (choreography by S. Koren and A. Lopukhov (1939), revival by I.G. Gensler (2016)), The Magic Gardens of Naina a choreographic excerpt from Mikhail Glinka’s opera Ruslan and Lyudmila (choreography by M. Fokine (1917), updated version by N. Tsiskaridze (2016)), Bolero (choreography by B. Nijinska(1928), updated version by A. Liepa (2007)) and The Fairy Doll (choreography by Legat brothers (1903), K. Sergeyev (1989), updated version by N. Tsiskaridze (2016)).
The choice of ballets was stipulated by specific nature of the graduate classes – the number of male and female graduate students, their peculiarities and unique talents. “This year we had only 8 male dancers in the graduate class”, says VBA principal Nikolay Tsiskaridze. “And we had to take this into consideration. I have selected the ballet excerpts so that every student could show his best qualities. For example, I understood that Anastasia Yaromenko should be presented in a ballet that would allow this dancer to show her bright personality, that is why she was given a solo part in all the three performances of Bolero. It is clear that the elder she becomes, the more interesting her acting and dancing would be. Graduate performance is always just a sketch of the future roles. Besides, the notion of theatrical character has always existed in the Russian theatre. And I think, if we do not teach our students to realize their abilities and their nature, their future professional life will inevitably turn into tragedies, envy and offences”.
Bolero was given in honor of Broneslava Nijinska, whose 125th anniversary was celebrated this year. The ballet was staged due to comprehensive support of Maris Liepa Charity Foundation, that has provided the costumes and theatricals. Only the dress for the female soloist was specially created for the VBA performance on the basis of Alexander Benois’s sketch.
Anastasia Yaromenko in Bolero. Photo: V.Vasiliev.
Selecting the ballets for the graduate performances, Nikolay Tsiskaridze has tried to pay tribute to the VBA outstanding graduates who have previously studied at the oldest Ballet School, and not only to consider the current repertoire of ballet theatres, but to possibly revive and preserve forgotten choreographic masterpieces, such as the Polish Ball from Ruslan and Lyudmila – a brilliant cascade of character dances created by the VBA graduates Sergey Koren and Andrey Lopukhov in 1939.
The Ball was revived by the VBA professor Irina Gensler: “I am happy to see the day this choreographic excerpt was revived after it had been barbarously pulled out of the opera. In 1948, when I gradated from the ballet school the second act of Ivan Susanin was performed on the Mariinsky stage, and I danced in Krakowiak. And after sometime – on the day the season was being opened with Ivan Susanin, I already danced the solo part. Later on, I used the choreographic text of this excerpt in the course of my lessons, teaching the students the coda from Krakowiak. At the beginning, when we only started to work on the graduate performance, it was not that easy, however now I see that the students have grown into their parts and began to enjoy what they are doing”.
The idea of reviving the Polish Ball was approved by Valery Gergiev, who allocated the funds for restoration of costumes on the basis of F. Fedorovsky’s sketches. The Mariinsky artists suggested staging the Polish Act against the background of the Swan Lake scenery set as soon as the décor pictures the beginning of the XVII century – exactly the same period, the scene of Ivan Susanin is laid in.
“One should also remember that the Queen who is present at the Ball is only 25 years old, and that she is one of the eldest women there”, says Nikolay Tsiskaridze. “The students are playing the characters of their own age. Warriors and ladies dancing at the ball were only 17-18 years old then”.
A great job in the course of the ballet revival was done by the Mariinsky conductor Valery Ovsyannikov, who helped to orchestrate the score of the Polish Ball and to hold the rehearsals. He also conducted the orchestra at all the graduate performances. The final part of the Ball was staged by Nikolay Tsiskaridze guided by Irina Gensler.
Valery Gergiev has also supported the staging of The Magic Gardens of Naina on the basis of choreographic excerpt from the third act of Ruslan and Lyudmila. However, in this opera the dances are a part of the story being accompanied by singing. That is why, the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music orchestrated the score for the suite at the request of Nikolay Tsiskaridze. All the choreographic combinations staged by Fokine, have been preserved in it, while the updated version has been made up by the VBA principal. The costumes for the self-sustainable ballet suite were created by the Mariinsky craftsmen on the basis of A. Golovin’s 1904 sketches. They differ from those that are being worn in the opera. The solo parts in the suite were performed by Vera Segova (June 12), Aliona Kovaleva (June 14 and 19), Zsofia Laczko (Hungary) and Elizaveta Kulikova.
The graduate performance concluded with The Fairy Doll. The suite from this ballet has already been presented by the VBA students on different stages of St. Petersburg. This ballet was created on the basis of Konstantin Sergeyev's version of 1989 staged for the Leningrad Choreographic School with the use of Legat brothers’ choreography. “Having studied all the materials, I have created an updated version, taking into account the fact that the times have changed and one should approach this ballet from a different angle”. This wonderful performance is based on divertissement showcasing not only the graduate students, but also the VBA students of different grades. The students appeared on stage accompanied by their teachers who performed the parts of the mature mimic characters. All the participants were not only to cope with the professional technical difficulties, but also to play smilingly easy tiny roles. Luxurious costumes made up at Dmitry Paradizov’s workshop are based on the sketches by Leo Bakst, whose 150-s anniversary is being currently celebrated by the whole world. The part of the Fairy Doll was performed by Aliona Kovalеva (June 12) and Eleonora Sevenard (June 14 and 19).
For Nikolay Tsiskaridze, the 274th VBA graduation performance was already the third graduation performance prepared under his guidance. None of «his» graduate performances has ever contained any contemporary pieces. According to the VBA principal, contemporary dancing is being presented by ballet schools in case one is unable to demonstrate the skills that have been taught to the students. The most difficult thing is to showcase character dance, which is much more difficult to teach, than the classical one as soon as it reveals the students’ coordination and their educational level right away. “Character dance is not being taught anywhere else, while the contemporary dancing is being taught everywhere. However, nobody has ever managed to explain it to me how to teach contemporary dancing, and no country in the world has elaborated an adequate contemporary training program”.
“For Forsythe ballets you need one thing, for Kylian – another, for Mats Ek – something absolutely different, and the skills you develop studying one style are absolutely useless for the other. Having consulted the specialists both in America and Europe, I decided to follow their advice and to start teaching contemporary dance to the students at 14-15 years of age, and not in the graduate forms. We have already tried it this year and will go on with this the next year as well».
It is worth noting that this year 27 boys and girls graduated form VBA having completed the secondary professional training course. The majority of them will continue the studies within the framework of the Bachelor's program. In addition to that, 23 VBA foreign trainees have also completed their training. Some of them have been invited by the Russian ballet companies: Laura Fernandez and Salome Figueiredo de Santana – to the Mariinsky Theatre, Maxime Ghemri – to Boris Eifman Ballet Theatre.
* We are dealing here with the first year students following the Bachelor's program offered by the Performing Arts Faculty – on completion of the first year of their studies, the young dancers are being employed by the theatres.
Photo: Mikhail Logvinov.
On June 22, the Vaganova Ballet Academy will again present its graduation performance at the Moscow State Kremlin Palace.
A unique program presented by one of the oldest cultural educational establishments of the Russian Federation will include: The Polish Ball (choreography by S. Koren and A. Lopukhov, revival by I.G. Gensler), The Magic Gardens of Naina (choreography by M. Fokine), Bolero (choreography by B. Nijinska) and The Fairy Doll (choreography by Legat brothers, updated version by N. Tsiskaridze).
The Fairy Doll created by Joseph Hassreiter and Franz Gaul to the music by the Austrian composer Josef Bayer was first presented in 1888 at the Vienna Court Opera. The ballet has immediately become popular with the public and was consequently staged in Austria, England, Germany and Italy. In 1897, the ballet was staged at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow by Jose Mendez, and in 1903 – at the Hermitage Theatre in St. Petersburg by Nikolai and Sergey Legat. The ballet was quickly transferred to the Mariinsky stage and became a debut not only for the Legat brothers themselves, but also for the wonderful painter Leo Bakst. The Fairy Doll was a great success and has consequently remained on the Mariinsky schedule for quite a long time. In 1989, Konstantin Sergeyev revived the performance on the basis of Legats’ choreography for the Vaganova Ballet School on the stage of the Mariinsky Theatre. Today, it is not possible to precisely restore the ballet created in 1903, however, proceeding from Konstantin Sergeyev’s version, some detailed recollections, historic materials and sketches (to a major extent, the ballet has won its place in the Russian ballet history due to the costumes and scenery created by Leo Bakst), the VBA teachers and students attempted to give a new life to one of the most beautiful ballets created in the beginning of the ХХth century and return it to the ballet-lovers. The restoration of the ballet was completed under the guidance of the VBA principal Nikolai Tsiskaridze.
The Polish Ball is the second act of the famous Russian opera Ivan Susanin/ A Life for the Tsar by Mikhail Glinka, the central part of which is a suite of character dances. A solemn Polonaise, a joyful Krakowiak, an airy Walz and a vivid Mazurka follow each other forming a sort of a symphonic suite. The opera was given its world premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1836. Initially, the dances were created by Antoine Titus, however, the composer thought his choreography to be a failure and, according to the ballet historian Yu.A. Bakhrushin, the dancers had to amend the choreography on their own as the performance progressed. Nikolay Goltz was one of those who played the key role in amending the movements. Besides, at Goltz’s request, in 1843, Glinka composed Mazurka and inserted it into his opera, while the former created the choreography.
A famous dancer and choreographer as well as the legend of the Paris Opera Ballet Marie Claude Pietragalla visited the Vaganova Ballet Academy along with an actor Julien Derouault. Accompanied by the VBA principal Nikolai Tsiskaridze, they took a tour of the historic VBA building, attended the rehearsals at the Petipa Hall and visited the VBA museum.
Marie Claude has been dreaming of visiting VBA for a long time as soon as she used to be a colleague of one of its graduates – Rudolf Nureyev, she had been working with at the Paris Opera for 6 years.
Pietragalla and Derouault have come to St. Petersburg to participate in the XVII Raduga International Theatre Festival, where they presented their dance-drama To be or to appear, based on Louis Aragon poetry, Shakespeare tragedy Richard II and the piano music by Yannaël Quenel.