Performed by the Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, this November
Founder of the Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet and artistic director of both productions Marina Medvetskaya, talks to us about what it takes to become a prima ballerina and why only the truly dedicated will succeed…
The Nutcracker and Swan Lake are such well-known productions; what can Irish audiences expect from the performances?
I am very excited to be premiering our new Nutcracker in Dublin, so I’m eager to see what the Irish audiences will make of it. I think the set is spectacular, quite baroque in design. We have stunning costumes and our young dancers are thrilled to be coming to Ireland for the first time! Having a live orchestra always adds to the drama of the ballet. Our Swan Lake is delightful and the dance traditional, Russia choreography. Natalia Romanova who dances the parts is incredible and plays the roles to perfection.
What age did you start taking ballet lessons?
I started dancing properly when I was 10 years old. Dance, particularly ballet, is very popular in Russia. It’s been around since the 17th Century, after all. Russian ballet is about big story telling and the dance is very precise and elegant. I fell in love with how the dancers can tell a story through expression and movement and I knew I wanted to do that; to take people on a journey.
Is becoming a ballerina as difficult as it seems?
Being a ballerina is an extremely tough profession. It requires a great deal of discipline, not only your fitness levels, but your diet and way of life. You have to be really committed and have complete control of your body. This is very important when doing lifts and holds, because it has to look effortless! Training and dance class take up most of the time so it requires a tremendous amount of dedication and it’s incredibly hard work. Touring is also difficult with the amount of travel and performances, which means you have to look after yourself. Only strong people can handle it.
Why did you decide to open your own dance company, Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet?
I wanted to show audiences all over the world that classical ballet will exist forever. I was fortunate enough to have been taught by the world-famous ballet artist, Vakhtang Chaboukiani and I’m lucky to have had the experience of dancing all the lead roles in the classical repertoire. I wanted to share that with others. Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet has built up a wonderful following and won awards, which I’m very proud of.
Is your way of teaching similar to the way that you were taught or have you chosen a different approach?
I learned so much from Vakhtang Chaboukiani, have been a Leading Soloist with The Tblisi State and Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, as well as dancing with some incredible partners. I’ve drawn upon all of these experiences and techniques to develop my own approach to work and teaching. I think as well that, some people are natural dancers and I can help them be the best they can be using my own experiences. It is very rewarding when you see them perform and enjoy a standing ovation.
Are any of the stereotypes surrounding ballet true?
You have to be mentally and physically strong to be good, so I’m sure a few stories of conflict within companies, are true. Ballet dancers have to be competitive to keep improving but my experiences have all been positive and Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet is like a big family.
How many hours a day/week does a typical dancer spend rehearsing?
Rehearsing times will vary depending on what part the dancer is playing, so anywhere from 1 to 5 hours. If dancers are not rehearsing then they will be in class practicing every aspect of their ballet. It’s certainly a vocation and not a 9 to 5 job!
What have been some of the highlights of your career?
Personally, as a dancer it is when I became prima ballerina in Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Georgia. With regards to my ballet company, it is wonderful that audiences all over the world pay to come and watch my dancers perform and enjoy it so much that they return every season.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue a career in dance?
It’s a hard career to choose. Never feel sorry for yourself, work hard and have self-belief. Listen to your teachers; they have the experience and knowledge that will help you to be the best you can be. And remember to be grateful to them, because they spend a lot of time and energy with every artist. You have to want to be a dancer and it needs to be the most important thing in your life because it’s such a commitment. It’s worth it though, so enjoy it!
The Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet will preform Swan Lake and The Nutcracker at the Board Gáis Energy Theatre this November. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.ie
For more information visit bordgaisenergytheatre.ie
Swan Lake: 22nd – 23rd November.
The Nutcracker: 24th – 26th November