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Sydney International Ballet Gala: Behind the scenes with Artistic Director Slava Tutukin

Slava Tutukin. Photo by Leszek Januschewski.
Slava Tutukin. Photo by Leszek Januschewski.

The spectacular Sydney International Ballet Gala – World Stars of Ballet will debut at West HQ’s Sydney Coliseum Theatre on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July. This unique opportunity will present a world-class program showcasing a cross-section of more than hundreds of years of ballet history on one stage over two special performances.

In this special behind-the-scenes talk with Artistic Director Slava Tutukin, we discuss the selected excerpts from the greatest classical ballet works, as well as curated highlights from the contemporary dance repertoire from around the globe. Included in the program are three world premieres and three Australian premieres. 

Curating an international program with global talent at this level is no small feat, especially in the current state of the world. Despite multiple obstacles, Tutukin’s experienced direction, global network and superb curation will present performances of supreme artistry, elegance and the highest technical precision.

Julian MacKay. Photo by Nicholas MacKay.
Julian MacKay. Photo by Nicholas MacKay.

Appearing on the stage will be principal dancers and soloists from The Australian Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Berlin State Ballet, Bavarian State Ballet and Dortmund Ballet.

These international performers bring the stage to life through spectacular dance to create a dreamlike universe. Anticipate to see dancers including Grace Carroll (The Australian Ballet), Bryce Latham (The Australian Ballet), Julian MacKay (San Francisco Ballet) and Mayu Tanigaito (Royal New Zealand Ballet), amongst others from renowned international ballet companies.

A master in the field of dance, Tutukin trained at the prestigious Vaganova Ballet Academy in Russia. A world-class talent, at age 18, he was appointed soloist at the world famous Mikhailovsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and danced leading roles in famous ballets such as Romeo and JulietCorsaireCippolinoThe Nutcracker and La Bayadère. As a principal artist, he has performed with renowned companies around the globe. In 2018, he was appointed as the Deputy Artistic Director and Company Manager of the Dortmund Ballet and the NRW State Youth Company in Germany. He is highly sought after and was approached to be a mentor and promote the art form of dance on an international level. Earlier this year, he was appointed as Managing Director of the world-renowned Tanya Pearson Academy. 

Join us as we pull back the curtains, and take a sneak peak in the lead up to this special event.

Slava, the Sydney International Ballet Gala is a brilliant way to connect artists and audience members together, despite the challenges across the globe. As Artistic Director, tell us about your objective for the celebration?

“Dance as a form of art always sees the world full of opportunities, chances, potential and possibilities. With everything happening around us in the last couple of years, my main objective is to share this positive perspective, to inspire community, foster a dialog, connect, and promote solidarity. At the same time, I really want people to have a great time, learn a little bit about dance and artist’s individual stories.”

Lucia Lacarra and Matthew Godling. Photo by Leszek Januschewski.
Lucia Lacarra and Matthew Godling. Photo by Leszek Januschewski.

Local and international artists will take to the stage with selected excerpts from the greatest classical ballets. What can the audience expect to see?

“Creating such events is like putting a big puzzle together, wherein each piece tells its individual story and triggers different emotions while remaining a part of the bigger picture. Classical excerpts will include pas de deux from Swan LakeGiselle, Don QuixoteFlame of Paris, Le Corsaire and La Bayadère. These are my favourite ballets, which combined, will reflect the beauty and elegance of the ballet, as well as its passion, dynamics and strengths.”

Describe your process for selecting highlights from the contemporary dance repertoire from around the world.

“I believe that new contemporary creations think about the world in its current state, as well as help to reimagine it as it should be. Innovation is an important and exciting part of this Gala. We will feature three world premieres, one of which is a piece, Borealis, created for Lucia Lacarra by the Emmy Award-winning choreographer and Artistic Director of BalletMet, Edwaard Liang. I think that supporting innovative arts will help us to reach a little further than expected.”

Representing the best of the international ballet world, performances will include artists by principal dancers and soloists from The Australian Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Berlin State Ballet, Bavarian State Ballet and Dortmund Ballet. How long does it take to organise such an event like this?

“We have had this vision for some time, but until the last moment did not know when the borders will reopen for international visitors or how the quarantine regulations would change. We had to wait until the situation was clarified and started to organise the Gala only two-and-a-half months ago! It is a very exciting and challenging phase for our team!”

An additional highlight will be Laura Fernandez. Can you tell us more about her journey and the piece she will be performing? 

Victor Caixeta. Photo by Svetlana Avvakum.
Victor Caixeta. Photo by Svetlana Avvakum.

“Laura is an exceptional classical dancer with a very interesting personal story. Half of her family comes from Ukraine, and the other half from Spain. Laura herself was born in Switzerland, but studied ballet at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. When the current tragic situation between Russia and Ukraine unfolded, she decided to leave Russia and her work in the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg and moved to Georgia, where she is currently based. Laura and her dance partner, Victor, who also recently left Russia, will perform two pas de deux from Le Corsaire and La Bayadère. These pieces are very dynamic and strong, just as these two dancers are!”

The event will be held at the Sydney Coliseum Theatre in western Sydney. With your accolades in the field of dance and business acumen, describe the shared values held with Richard Errington (Chief Executive Officer, West HQ) and the significance of this. 

“Richard and his team created a working environment that encourages collaboration, creativity and enables artists to be fully self-expressive. Our mutual goal is to promote arts and make it available to the broader audience. Arts is a settled power that changes the world one perception at a time.”

If you are looking for an evening of rich dance culture, expect to be dazzled at the Sydney International Ballet Gala – World Stars of Ballet. The Gala will be presented 16 -17 July, at West HQ’s Sydney Coliseum Theatre. For bookings, visit premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=BALLET22.

By Renata Ogayar of Dance Informa.

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