If you haven’t seen it the way it should be seen – with dozens of highly trained ballet dancers in a fully staged production – now is a good opportunity.
“ ‘Swan Lake’ should be experienced by everyone at least once in one’s lifetime,” says Gulya Hartwick, company manager of the touring Russian Grand Ballet.
The company visits the Tower Theatre Tuesday, Oct. 6, and the Visalia Fox Theatre Wednesday, Oct. 7. We caught up with Hartwick via email to talk about the tour.
Q: Do you have to adjust the size of the cast to be able to perform in venues with smaller stages such as Fresno’s Tower Theatre?
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A: There will be 38 dancers performing in Fresno/Visalia. We do sometimes adjust the size for smaller stages, if necessary. We will do our best to perform in full size for the show in Fresno.
Q: Is the ballet a complete recreation of the original Petipa/Ivanov choreography, or have any additions/changes been made?
A: It is our choreographer’s Vladimir Troshchenko edition. The waltz choreography has been changed slightly, as well as some of the divertissements. We always try to bring something new, but keep the fundamentals the same.
What the world has today are two options – the Mariinsky Ballet edition and the Bolshoi Ballet edition. Konstantin Sergeev, the partner of legendary Ulanova was the choreographer of the Mariinsky and he created the last version, which has been the base for what we have today.
Q: The Valse des cygnes, or “Dances of the Swans,” in Act 2 is of course one of the most beautiful moments in all ballet. How many dancers are featured in your version? How much rehearsal do you think it has taken to achieve the level of uniformity and precision that this moment requires?
A: Eighteen dancers are featured in a beautiful Valse des Cygnes. Any theatre has the standard of three rehearsals before the performance. But, of course the mastership is being polished for years and years. All our dancers are very experienced. But if you start from scratch you would need 8 years of choreographic school and 3 years of experience to dance the Valse.
Q: Was the recent movie “Black Swan” with Natalie Portman popular in Russia? Do you think the success of the movie in the U.S. has increased interest for your “Swan Lake” tour?
A: The movie was very popular in Russia. Natalie Portman’s work is brilliant. “Black Swan” has a definite positive effect on the overall popularity of ballet.
Q: Olga Kifyak will be dancing the Odile/Odette (both the Black Swan and White Swan) roles. What can you tell us about her?
A: She was born to dance and in a short time has become principal ballerina par excellence. In six short years she has garnered 11 international dance award. Olga was also bestowed with the title of Honored Artist of Ukraine.
Q: In a time of international tension, what role do you think dance can play in bringing nations together?
A: The arts has always played an important role in people’s lives, psychologically and emotionally. Interesting fact: when people go to the theater, they don’t want to go to war. That’s what we see in Ukraine. People are looking for art, and peace, and beauty. We go to the theater, where there is hope for peace.
- 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave.
- 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, Visalia Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia