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Saturday 29 January 2022

Interview: The Return Of The Russian State Ballet Of Siberia To Theatre Royal Brighton

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia is visiting Theatre Royal Brighton as part of the company's 20th anniversary season, celebrating two decades since they first visited the UK. 

They will be performing five classical ballets: Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Snow Maiden, Romeo and Juliet, and Cinderella.

Artistic director Sergei Bobrov, company manager Vitaly Mikhailov and principal dancer Marcello Pelizzoni tell Marianka Swain why they're so excited to be returning and what we can expect in this very special season.

Q/ Congratulations on your 20th anniversary! 

Vitaly Mikhailov (VM): Thank you very much – it means a lot to us. Everyone is enjoying being back together and so eager to go on tour.

Marcello Pelizzoni (MP): It was fantastic news when they told us that we'd be touring this year, after missing out because of Covid in 2020. We always look forward to the UK tour. And it's incredible to reach this 20th anniversary. Not many companies have that.

Q/ Was it difficult keeping everyone motivated and supported during this past year?

Sergei Bobrov (SB): We're lucky in that we're a government company, so we had stable salaries and we were able to do shows in Russia, with a 50% capacity audience. But it's even better to be back with full audiences now.

MP: We worked very hard: as soon as the theatre reopened, we were back performing, making up for everything we missed when we were closed. Now, we have the biggest motivation of all with the UK tour.

Q/ How did you choose the shows for your 20th anniversary season?

VM: The five ballets we"ve chosen are all very popular: multiple generations have grown up with them.

SB: Our Swan Lake is very close to the original 19th-century production, as conceived by Tchaikovsky. We're proud to keep that great Russian tradition alive.

VK: We also have a very Russian Nutcracker. We love that Nutcracker has become a part of people's Christmas celebrations. And the Snow Maiden is based on a Russian folk tale. 

Then we have Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and everyone knows Cinderella. So they"re great introductions to ballet: you can understand them easily and see that familiar story transformed into dance.

MP: I first discovered Snow Maiden when I arrived in Russia eight years ago, and I love it: it's about the end of winter and the beginning of spring, so it feels hopeful. Our Romeo and Juliet is unlike any other you'll see. It"s very exciting – the jewel of our season. And Cinderella is so beautiful.

Q/ Is it challenging to prepare for five different shows?

SB: Yes, it takes a lot of preparation. Rehearsals, rehearsals and more rehearsals!

MP: As a principal, I play Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, the Prince in The Nutcracker, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Mizgir in Snow Maiden, and the Prince in Cinderella. All the princes! 

But we have several principal dancers who take on the lead roles, so we don't have to dance every single show. I like the variation. Romeo and Mizgir are very dramatic roles: you have to be an actor as well as a dancer to make them convincing.

Q/ How important is it to keep touring dance?

MP:  We're very proud to bring this high-level ballet, with a full orchestra, to all these different places. Dancing should be for everyone.

Q/ What are your ambitions for the next 20 years?

SB: We want the company to keep getting stronger, travelling to new places, maybe perform in the West End. We're always striving to be better. We're very proud of how talented and hard-working our dancers are. We"re lucky that we have them, and maybe they"re lucky to have us. We're like a family.

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia at Theatre Royal Brighton from 7th – 9th February 2022. CLICK HERE for tickets.

by: Mike Cobley & Marianka Swain


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