The Power of a Duet: World Ballet Stars at Tbilisi Opera & Ballet Theater

Interview

World ballet stars Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov performed in a new choreographic version of Laurencia, staged by Nina Ananiashvili on October 28 at the Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater.

Laurencia as a ballet was originally choreographed and staged by famous Georgian ballet dancer and choreographer, Vakhtang Chabukiani, first in 1939, in Kirov Theater, Russia, and later in 1948 in the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater, with himself and renowned Georgian ballerina Vera Tsignadze performing the leading parts. In Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, Chabukiani danced the part with famous Maya Plisetskaya.

Laurencia is based on Lope de Vega’s play ‘Fuente Ovejuna,’ with music by Russian composer Alexander Krein.

Prima Ballerina Nina Ananiashvili, Artistic Director of the State Ballet of Georgia, staged the new choreographic redaction of Laurencia back in 2014 at the Minsk National Academic Grand Opera and Ballet Theater in Belarus, which then premiered in Tbilisi in the summer of 2017. It is said that this version of the ballet libretto is closest to Vakhtang Chabukiani’s.

GEORGIA TODAY met with Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov, both in the midst of their stellar careers, performing on the world’s leading theater stages in Russia and abroad.

What are your impressions of Tbilisi?

Vladislav: It’s my second time here and although we haven’t yet had a chance to see much, I love it. I like the atmosphere of the old town that you can so vividly feel, and those beautiful Tbilisi yards; the way that oldness is preserved in those stunning buildings. I’m very happy to have a chance to be here again, and to stay here even for a few days.

Maria: I was raised with a huge respect for and appreciation of your country and culture and of course I always love to come to Georgia. There’s a great authenticity here, which is unfortunately rare nowadays. You come to Georgia and it’s not about just ballet, since ballet itself in a way erases the existing boundaries globally: it’s more about the atmosphere which is so pleasurable and unique.

What was the most challenging aspect of performing Laurencia?

Maria: We agreed to the project instantly, and were working on it for around six months. The most difficult part is to make the performance the best it can be.

Vladislav: It’s interesting… any performance, no matter how easy it seems, can be difficult. Laurencia is so vivid, so colorful and I’m very much looking forward to our performance.

Maria, in one of your interviews, you say that Ballet is all about love…

Maria: Ballet speaks about love, and any other theme it takes on turns into love. That’s why the interaction of the characters, the existence of a duet in the performance, is the most important thing. As a viewer, you have to receive that impulse of love; love that may be difficult, romantic, passionate, one that may not exist in reality but can only be felt in ballet.

Vladislav, you say that your relationship with contemporary dance is “rather calm.” Why is that?

Vladislav: I feel very comfortable in the contemporary style, creating something new, but the basis for me is classical dance and classical performances.

Which choreographer(s) would you choose to work with?

Maria: I have some ideas for a future project with a certain choreographer but it’s early days and I don’t want to share it right now.

Vladislav: I know it will never happen, but I would have loved to work with Roland Petit; it would be amazing to live in his performances. [Roland Petit, an acclaimed French choreographer and dancer, passed away in 2011].

Plisetskaya, Tsignadze and Chabukiani were the great names of Laurencia. Do you feel the need to compete?

Vladislav: I had so many great dancers performing in the ballets before me, especially in the Bolshoi Theater repertoire, but as time passed, I learned not to think about it, otherwise you can torture yourself with it. I’ve learned to watch the tapes of their performances and try to take from them what was needed for me in the moment.

Maria: In classical ballet, that way of thinking might leave you out of a profession. If you constantly compare yourself to others it might be better to pack your things and leave. We’re entering the stage after Pavlova, Spesivtseva, and it’s not us who created that heritage. We keep those traditions; the performances are renewed, as is the audience, while time passes. There are rules that you have to obey, but at the same time there’s a huge part of you, your personality, going into it. I read somewhere that tradition is about passing the fire on and not about torturing oneself over the ashes. We have to put our souls into those performances to live, otherwise it’ll become a raw classic. You mustn’t compete with the great dancers; you have to find yourself in art: that’s the main objective of a person in art: finding oneself, one’s individuality, opening your abilities and finding out what you can do.

Maria, do you ever regret leaving the Bolshoi?

Maria: Theater is a difficult place; it can give you a lot, but it can also take so many things from you. Not the theater itself, but people and artists are those whose careers are largely dependent on whether you’re loved or not. There are situations where your attitude changes towards yourself, towards time and the goals you set for yourself as an artist.

Vladislav: I thought about leaving the theater about a year ago, but, I decided that as long as I can hold that creative fire inside me, I have to work. I, as an artist, can build my life as I see fit.

What are your plans after Tbilisi?

Vladislav: We’re going back to Moscow, I have a premiere in November, Maria is going to London, and then we’ll dance in Spartak together in the Bolshoi. In terms of regrets, I think that Bolshoi lost an amazing ballerina, and a unique duet, which I can honestly say has no analogue today. It doesn’t matter where we dance, what matters is that we dance together.

Nino Gugunishvili

02 November 2017 19:45
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