Interviews

Inside The Imperial Russian Ballet

By Grace Edwards of Dance Informa.

The Imperial Russian Ballet is back, bringing its latest production, A Festival of Russian Ballet, to theatres around Australia. The show includes excerpts from well-known ballets The Nutcracker, Bolero, Giselle, Carmen, The Dying Swan and Le Corsaire, as well as the lesser known Gopak, Ne Me Quittes Pas and Can Can Surprise.

Dance Informa spoke to ex-Bolshoi Ballet soloist and Founding Artistic Director Gediminas Taranda about his company.

Welcome back to Australia, Mr. Taranda. Tell us, after all these years and so many tours, can you remember what first sparked your passion for dance?

I started very late, around 14 years old — that’s practically an old man by ballet standards. But before the age of 14, I played many sports such as judo and football. I fell in love with ballet at first sight. I had seen dancers rehearsing through windows, many beautiful women dancing, and they were all so light. The sports teams I was in only had men you see, so ballet was much better!

Tell us a little about your company.

I founded the Imperial Russian Ballet in 1994, and though it’s hard to believe, the company has been going for almost 20 years. The company has many young dancers. Every year I travel to Russia and to the other ex-Soviet countries, visiting many ballet schools and finding the best young dancers to invite into my company. Now I have 45 dancers all around 20 to 25 years old and in love with travel. I am taking eight of my principal soloists to Australia. They all work like horses, about seven hours each day. To me, this work ethic is excellent and really important — I always say to my young dancers that you can’t be a fantastic soloist without putting in the hours.

Imperial Russian Ballet Company Artistic Director Gediminas Taranda

Imperial Russian Ballet Company Artistic Director Gediminas Taranda.

Apart from training, the dancers of Imperial Russian Ballet also travel a lot. It must take a lot of energy to keep to such a schedule.

Yes. But everybody in the company is very young and very hungry for travel. This is a very interesting job for many of them — you might get to stay two months in Moscow, then go to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Brazil, Japan, wherever. If you have a family, such a schedule isn’t possible to maintain but for young people this is all very interesting. My ballet company is like a travelling circus.

Do you ever get tired?

Of course! But this is our life. Many of my artists, after working in the Imperial Russian Ballet, go join another company and when I meet up with them they all say, “Oh, Taranda, it’s very boring to work in just one place.” My company, in contrast, is like a car — we’re all together, but travelling all the time.

Your latest production, A Festival of Russian Ballet, contains scenes from many different famous ballets. Do you have a favourite?

I have many favourite ballets and you are right, A Festival of Russian Ballet is extremely varied. I think The Nutcracker is always great. I’ve seen it maybe a thousand times and I’m still not bored by it. But I think my favourite probably has to be Bolero. This is absolutely magic in terms of the choreography, the decorations, the beautiful black and gold costumes and the music by Ravel. If you come see our Bolero I think you’ll love it too. It’s just magical!

Don Quixote, Imperial Russian Ballet

The Imperial Russian Ballet Company presenting ‘Don Quixote’.

What advice would you like to pass on to young dancers?

Work for my company! [laughs]

I think first, if you have talent, that is very good. But if you only have talent, you will do nothing. You will be a talent, yes, but that’s it. If you have a moderate amount of talent but if you work every day — five hours, six hours, ten hours — if you go to sleep thinking about your job, then get up the next day then train again, train, train, train, and get to know your body, your muscles, everything — you will get there. If you have two dancers, one with extreme talent and the other with moderate talent but a better work ethic, I think the second dancer with moderate talent will generally surpass the first after one year. This is true. I have seen this. Practice makes perfect.

For more information on the Australian tour of the Imperial Russian Ballet’s A Festival of Russian Ballet, go to www.russianballet.com.au.

October Tour Dates
TOWNSVILLE – Civic Theatre – Thursday 3 & Friday 4 October 2013
Bookings: The Ticket Shop (07) 4727 9797
MACKAY Entertainment Centre – Saturday 5 October 2013
Bookings: Mackay Tix (07) 4961 9777 or www.mackaytix.com.au
CAIRNS – Civic Theatre – Sunday 6, Monday 7 & Tuesday 8 October 2013
Bookings: TicketLink 1300 855 835 or www.ticketlink.com.au
ROCKHAMPTON – Pilbeam Theatre – Thursday 10 October 2013
Bookings: Dial n’ Charge (07) 4927 4111 or www.seeitlive.com.au
GOLD COAST – The Arts Centre Gold Coast – Saturday 12 October 2013
Bookings: (07) 5588 4000 or www.theartscentregc.com.au
CALOUNDRA – The Events Centre – Sunday 13 October 2013
Bookings: (07) 5491 4240 or www.theeventscentre.com.au
IPSWICH – Civic Centre – Monday 14 October 2013
Bookings: (07) 3810 6100 or www.ipswichciviccentre.com.au
MARYBOROUGH – Brolga Theatre – Tuesday 15 October 2013
Bookings: (07) 4122 6060 or www.brolgatheatre.org
BRISBANE – QPAC Concert Hall – Wednesday 16 & Thursday 17 October 2013
Bookings: www.qpac.com.au or 136 246 #Tickets on sale 1 July 2013
TOOWOOMBA – Empire Theatre – Friday 18 October 2013
Bookings: 1300 655 299 or www.empiretheatre.com.au
PORT MACQUARIE – Glasshouse – Saturday 19 October 2013
Bookings: (02) 6581 8888
ADELAIDE – Festival Theatre – Tuesday 22 & Wednesday 23 October 2013
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or www.bass.net.au
SYDNEY – State Theatre – Friday 25, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 October 2013
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 139 588 or www.ticketmaster.com.au

Photo (top): Imperial Russian Ballet dancer Oxana Sharova. Photos courtesy of Lionel Midford Publicity

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