International Ballet Workshops (IBW) is thrilled to be bringing not one but two international guest teachers to its Summer 2020 “In the Footsteps of Vaganova” Series. Both Russian-born and Germany-based, guest principal artists and teachers Katherina Markowskaja and Maxim Chashchegorov will join IBW to teach aspiring ballet dancers across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Auckland this summer. Markowskaja and Chashchegorov have danced with some of the world’s top ballet companies, including the Dresden Semperoper Ballet, Bavarian State Ballet, Mariinsky Theatre and Kiev State Ballet. Chashchegorov also holds a Masters of Art from the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet.
As well as an incredible learning experience, Markowskaja and Chashchegorov will be brining a life-changing experience for two lucky students to attend the Prague Ballet Intensive, 2020, plus more special opportunities to be announced.
Dance Informa recently caught up with Markowskaja and Chashchegorov to find out about their experiences, teaching styles and what students can expect from their classes at IBW.
What are you most looking forward to about teaching at the IBW Summer 2020 series?
“I’m looking forward to meeting so many talented kids and not only sharing my knowledge and experience with them but also learning things from them.”
“I’m really looking forward to working with students in Australia and New Zealand, and sharing my knowledge about classical and contemporary ballet. As I have worked in the Mariinsky Theatre, then in Munich State Theatre, and in many other theatres and countries as a guest principal, I have a lot of different experiences to share. I hope to have the chance to share the differences in education and work in Russian schools and theatres compared to European ones.”
What sort of principles do you incorporate in your teaching and what can students expect from your classes?
“I believe in dance, which means that keeping the joy in class is no less important than the discipline and workout.”
“I discover the level of the students in my first class with them, and then we start working on weak points and develop further. I always try to combine a positive atmosphere with hard work.”
Who was your most influential teacher and what is the most important lesson you learned from them?
“I learned the value of each personality; no matter how tall or short you are, how slim or not so slim, or how high your developpé is. We are all unique, and this is wonderful. I learned this from my first director, Vladimir Derevianko, and from the choreographers I admire, John Neumeier and William Forsythe. I’m actually very lucky to have worked with so many choreographers without this ‘boxed-in’ thinking.”
“I had many good teachers. Some of them were more amazing in the classical repertoire, some in contemporary. I always tried to take the best from all the corrections and advice they gave me. But the most important lesson for me to understand was that on stage, we are not just doing some movements, but we are creating a role, and we live this role during the ballet. Everything that happens on stage has to happen according to this.”
Having performed with different companies all over the world, what differences have you noticed in ballet across different countries?
“I think the difference is in focus and traditions. In Russia, we are trying hard to keep all traditions quite strict. For example, how the arms are working, and how choreography was made. In Europe, everything is more free and more influenced by contemporary work. But the wonderful thing is that we all are able to learn from one another.”
“Honestly, I have to admit that it is not only different between different countries – schools teach differently, and traditions may differ, too. However, ballet now is changing, and so many people are traveling from one school to another, from one theatre to the other one. The borders are thinner now. I would say that the difference in the theatres is very dependent on the ballet director. They are leading the theatre, so they adjust repertoire, and even the dancers, according to their vision.”
What is your favourite piece of repertoire?Have you had a chance to perform it on stage?
“Almost everything I performed was my favourite piece for the time period I was working on it. I never did Tatyana in Onegin choreographed by John Cranko. This is a role I really wished to dance. Everything else I wished for I was lucky to perform. Sometimes things were harder than they looked at first, but sometimes the opposite.”
“There are a few of them – for classical ballet, I would say La Bayadère is a favourite, and for modern, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated by William Forsythe. Onegin by John Cranko is one I still hope to dance one day.”
Can you give us any clues about the type of repertoire students might have the chance to learn from you at the workshops?
“I love all the classics because of their purity, beauty and tradition, but I also love contemporary dance, like Forsythe. Depending on the level of the students, we will find the repertoire that best fits for them so they can enjoy the process and take as much as they can with them.”
“I would like to start by practicing some classical pieces at the beginning, and then we will add in some modern/contemporary.”
What advice would you give to students to help them get the most out of the workshops?
“To stay open and curious and to be like a ‘sponge’. Soak up every little correction, because one day you might need it.”
What always helps in ballet (and actually in any situation) is to think first and then to do something. In ballet class, we try different steps many times, but if we think first, we will be able achieve our goal much sooner.”
Register for the International Ballet Workshops Summer 2020 ‘In the Footsteps of Vaganova’ Series at www.ibwdance.com.
Sydney Group 1: January 4-6, 2020, The Conlan College
Sydney Group 2: January 8-10, 2020, The Conlan College
Auckland: January 13-15, 2020, Wellesley Studios
Brisbane: January 17-19, 2020, Promenade Dance Studio
Melbourne: January 23-25, 2020, Melbourne Academy of the Arts
Perth: January 28-30, 2020, The Perth School of Ballet