It's a debate that's raged on over hundreds of years: star-crossed lovers or a tale of unrivalled tragedy? Audiences will have a chance to decide for themselves this evening, when the Moscow City Ballet dances Romeo and Juliet onto the Opera House stage.
Russia's renowned dance company - famous worldwide for its captivating story-telling through traditional score and choreography - is returning to the UK for its 22nd year.
Their tour will see the troupe blaze through a repertoire of ballet classics, inviting audiences into the magical worlds of the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, through narrative, Tchaikovsky's masterpiece scores played live by the Moscow City Ballet Orchestra, and the dexterity and grace of principal ballerinas Alevtina Lapshina and Liliya Orvekhova.
Pictured: The production in full swing. (Photo: Moscow City Ballet)
Firstly, however, the ballet will inject life and magic into the world's most famous love story, Romeo and Juliet, powerfully telling their story through expert choreography and a glistening soundtrack by Prokofiev from the first amorous sparks to their dramatic, untimely ends.
Fortunate, then, that this is the favourite story of the troupe's artistic director Ludmila Neroubashchenko, who aims to preserve the dramatic legacy created by Victor Smirnov-Golovanov. who created the Moscow City Ballet in 1988, as she reveals in a Q&A...
For the last 22 years we have been coming to the UK every year, sometimes more than on one occasion. We are absolutely delighted with the love, affection and loyalty of our spectators. I think that the reason for this is that when the public comes to see our ballets, they see something genuine performed by the people who have utter conviction in what they do and great respect and love for this art form. This makes it interesting to watch.
Pictured: The Moscow City Ballet perform Romeo and Juliet on stage. (Photo: Moscow City Ballet)
My favourite ballet is Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. This was the last production of my late husband, Victor Smirnov-Golovanov. The music is very powerful, the choreography matches it. It’s a ballet about life and death, how powerful, but at the same time fragile love is. It touches me on so many levels and even though I have seen this ballet dozens of times, I cry every time.
We have our original versions of several ballets, such as Nutcracker, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, staged and choreographed by Victor Smirnov-Golovanov. Others have been originally staged, but preserving classical choreography. If we do decide to stage a new ballet, I guess it will be our original version too, but our commitment to the ideals of the 19th century Russian Ballet is just as strong as ever.
Pictured: The star-crossed lovers meet their untimely ends. (Photo: Moscow City Ballet)
It’s hard work during the day, lots of sleepless nights for me, sour feet and aching muscles for the dancers, headaches for our administrators. It takes time, effort and commitment. The new dancers need to learn our repertoire, everything needs to be rehearsed to a level where people live on stage and don’t think about which movements they need to do. And of course I need to mention all the planning that is done by our impresarios around the world. The tour runs from November to March, covers 9 countries, so it’s very complex from logistics point of view. And yes, of course I travel with the company and I watch every performance.
Yes, indeed, there have been a number of young dancers joining our company this year. I would like to single out Kateryna Odarenko, who has joined Moscow City Ballet as principal dancer. Moscow City Ballet is renowned for having a very young cast, and this is the tradition that carries on. Kateryna is 19, she graduated from Ballet Academy this year. She will start as Odette/Odile in the Swan Lake and of course many other roles, so it’s a big year for her. I think she has a great potential.
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