Astana Opera is preparing for big premiere

Фото: astanaopera 05.05.2023 09:59 2054

Until the time when the spotlights flood the stage with their rays, the music captivates the audience with its melodiousness, and a violent passion kindles the dancers’ performance, the final preparations for the premiere of the world ballet Petite Mort, choreographed by outstanding contemporary ballet master Jiří Kylián to Mozart’s brilliant music, are in full swing at the opera house. The ballet masterpiece is being prepared to be presented at the Astana Opera on May 13 and 14, El.kz cites astanaopera.kz.

Taking a peek backstage, the rehearsals of duets and ensembles, separated by the sweep of a lightweight dark cloth and the play of swords and pannier dresses, already take one’s breath away. Abidance to the music is felt in every movement, and love duels are drawn with intricate line graphics.

“In my work, I have based my choreography on two slow movements from the two most famous piano concertos by Mozart. I have cut them away from the fast movements, leaving them as mutilated torsos, lying helplessly in front of the listener and beholder. They lie there, just like some ancient torso’s, without arms and legs, unable to walk or embrace,” Jiří Kylián explained. “We live in a world in which nothing is sacred. Since the time in which Mozart’s music was created, and today, many wars were fought and much blood had to flow under the “Bridge of Time”. And, it was mostly men swaying swords in show of their potency and power. And it is always a “Mort”, which accompanies our lives, sometimes it is “Petite”, sometimes it is “Grand”, but it is the most faithful companion we have, from the dawn of our existence till the end.” 

Stefan Żeromski, Jiří Kylián’s assistant, is working with the dancers of the Astana Opera Ballet Company on the production. Under his belt is a brilliant career as a dancer in the ballet companies of the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw and the Deutsche Oper Berlin. However, he devoted most of his professional work to the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT).

“I think that because of the classical repertoire, the Kazakh ballet company has very beautiful lyrical kind of movements, which is very necessary in this case, because this ballet combines lyrical quality of classical ballet and athleticism of the human body.” Mr. Żeromski says. “I worked on this ballet with many companies, such as the Staatsballett Berlin, the Nederlands Dans Theater, the Colorado Ballet, the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre and others. However, not every ballet company gets to perform Petite Mort. The dancers must have a very high quality of technical excellence. Consequently, they have to be properly trained, with an impeccable command of the classical dance vocabulary. However, at the same time, the dancers must be experienced and allow human quality to come through. I would say that they have to be excellent professionals, which is the case with the dancers of the Astana Opera Ballet Company.”

Stefan Żeromski has already decided on the casts of performers, after having previously selected them among the company’s dancers. As a result, 6 pairs of dancers will present their interpretation of Petite Mort on different premiere days.

Thus, Yevgeniy Rybkin, Gulnaz Zhanayeva, Sultanbek Gumar, Bakhytgul Ispanova will perform Duet No. 1. Duet No. 2 – Sofiya Adilkhanova, Ruslan Kanagat, Kamila Ormanova, Islam Kaiypbai. Duet No. 3 – Aigerim Beketayeva, Daniyar Zhumatayev, Madina Unerbayeva, Arman Urazov. Duet No. 4 – Adelina Tulepova, Bakhtiyar Adamzhan, Shugyla Adepkhan, Serik Nakyspekov. Duet No. 5 – Anastasia Zaklinskaya, Galymzhan Nurmukhamet, Moldir Shakimova, Dias Kurmangazy. Duet No. 6 – Yerkezhan Zhunussova, Zhanibek Akhmediyev, Assel Shaikenova and Olzhas Tarlanov.

The ballet master noted that the staging of the production is going according to schedule. In the rehearsal work, the emphasis is now on the development of fine qualities which were the signature style of the Nederlands Dans Theater. The master seeks from the dancers a certain softness and sensibility of movement.

“Not the easiest ballet, first of all, of course, this applies to the choreography. There are a lot of movements for each note of Mozart’s brilliant music. Another nuance – in this production we dance with swords. It is well known that the sword is an unpredictable prop. A correct and beautiful dance with it depends on many details. In particular, how you will place it, how and with what force you will grab it, in order to understand according to what trajectory it will roll along, when it needs to be released. Therefore, the greatest number of rehearsals was given to the scene with swords, so that the dancers could understand and get used to working with them. Certainly, synchronicity is very important in this ballet. Six pairs are presented onstage at the same time, and we must do many elements in the same way, together,” Bakhtiyar Adamzhan, the Astana Opera’s principal dancer, said.

The principal dancer Aigerim Beketayeva agrees with her colleague.

“This is my first acquaintance with Jiří Kylián’s choreography. However, even visually, you can determine that Petite Mort is the complete opposite of Sechs Tänze. Nevertheless, there is something that unites them: both were created in the same period, they have a philosophical view of the world, and the choreographer broaches the topics of life and death in both of these productions. Speaking of Petite Mort, it should be noted that here Mozart’s incredibly beautiful music and Kylián’s choreography merge into one whole, and the ballet is an undeniable masterpiece. Ballet critics very accurately determined that each note in this ballet freezes, scattering in the air with a thousand small echoes, barely audible in the moments of silence between heartbeats and blood pulsations. This is when the very breath of life subsides, forgetting that mortality is overcome by the experience of love.”

“There are 6 women, 6 men in the ballet, and there are also props – 6 rapiers. Some see a certain symbolism in this: 666, the presence of something demonic and at the same time divine,” Aigerim Beketayeva says. “In the rehearsal process, it became clear to me that Jiří Kylián made a certain lift for each note, very finely thinking out and putting the choreographic text to music. Although it may seem to the average person that this is just a set of movements, however, this is not so. Each of them has a semantic load: a wave of the hand, a movement of the hip, a turn of the body, and the dancers themselves plunge into a state of artistic euphoria, conveying their heroes’ feelings, the highest point of ecstasy, with their bodies. The incredible skill of the choreographer is that he showed everything very intelligently,” Aigerim Beketayeva noted.

Anastasia Zaklinskaya, the ballet company soloist, shares her vivid impressions about this ballet.

“I fell in love with this ballet at first sight, and I am very glad that such a rare and unusual production as Petite Mort will be added to the repertoire of our opera house. The performance captivates from the very first seconds: the dance is imbued with sensuality and choreographed with phenomenal musical precision. The ballet consists of 6 completely different duets, and each of them is special in its own way,” the ballerina concluded.

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