Creative Freedom and Work Discipline

Creative Freedom and Work Discipline

Representatives of the Bolshoi Theater, Makhar Vaziev, Nina Semizorova and Svetlana Zakharova, spoke about the ballet world from the inside in the Observer program on the Kultura TV channel.

A Program for Young Artists - "Amazing Motivation"

Beginning of the Young Artists Ballet Program of the Bolshoi Theater became an important topic for discussion. The Theater’s Ballet Artistic Director Makhar Vaziev said that initially this project was conceived as a regional one, but organizers received heaps of applications from foreign dancers.

The process has already started and future participants of the program send their dance recordings. The Bolshoi expert group watches the applications and selects those who will pass to the next stage - intramural audition at the theater. After this two-stage selection process, the artist gets into the educational program. They work with teachers and immerse themselves in the creative atmosphere of the country's major theater. The training lasts from 4 to 7 months on the average, but every participant will have a chance to come all this way at a comfortable pace. The theater will provide the program participants with accommodation, and the general sponsor, Ingosstrakh, will cover their travel expenses and provide a scholarship as financial support.

“The opportunity to join the Bolshoi Theater company is a unique chance for the program participants. In any case, such training can fill and inspire,” - said Vaziev.

Choreographer and teacher-repetiteur Nina Semizorova warned that it wasn’t easy to qualify for the Young Artists Ballet Program, as the competition was huge. Teachers and organizers have a difficult task: to choose the most talented artists from among the gifted artists. And prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Svetlana Zakharova recalled how she herself once participated in a similar program.

“When I was 16 years old, I studied at the Academy of Russian Ballet and got into the internship group. I came to the audition, the whole troupe gathered there. I prepared the Queen of the Dryads variation from the Mariinsky’s production of Don Quixote. This performance was such an impetus, such a great practice! Later, I danced with the Mariinsky troupe several times that season, and the memories of those days are brighter than of many tours,” - the ballerina shared.

Who needs the new Youth Program more - the theater or the participants? It is obvious that first of all this opportunity to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the Bolshoi is valuable for ballet dancers. However, there is a concern, because this might cause a massive outflow of talented regional artists to Moscow. Will the local theater companies suffer, if they are left without their stars?

“Our task is to help and support, but not to “bare” the regions. Ballet dancers will always want to get into the Bolshoi Theater, because it is the best in the country. But an opportunity to do an internship here, work with great teachers and see great ballerinas with your own eyes is crucial. This shapes a person, an artist,” - says Makhar Vaziev.

Makhar Khasanovich also recalled one demonstrative case. A ballerina from a region came to the Bolshoi for audition. And, even being an accomplished artist, she was literally “half-fainting”, when she entered the room and saw the prima ballerina Svetlana Zakharova. “It doesn’t sound pretentious, it’s an amazing motivation,” - Vaziev wrapped up.

Freedom, Restrictions, and Ballet Ideals

The most emotional part of the conversation touched upon the topics of ballet ideals and restrictions. What traits should a ballet dancer have? Participants of the conversation ran through the main ones: natural musical sense and plastique, physical characteristics - proportionality and good coordination, as well as the ability to live out the emotions on stage vividly. Svetlana Zakharova and Nina Semizorova added that you can't do without patience, hard work and luck in ballet.

“A student must meet their teacher. The person with whom you do your first steps in the choreographic school is crucial,” - Zakharova emphasized.

Ballerinas are often asked about the tough limitations they put up with. This conversation was no exception. However, both ballerinas of the Bolshoi admitted that they had never felt disadvantaged.

“Performance is the highest point you are aiming for, and there is no time or desire to want anything else. And at the same time, we gain so much, when we create. The day after the performance, you can relax, get rid of your emotions. Then again, you are alone with the stage,” - said Svetlana Zakharova.

They also talked about the dependence of artists on the choreographer, artistic director and other people involved in the art of dance. All partners in the conversation admitted that a ballet dancer depends on many people and factors. But at the same time, they are free to express their emotions like all creative people.

“We depend on many circumstances - stage covering, pace of the conductor and the partner: sometimes, ballerina's life is in his hands. I depend on the person who I look in the eyes during a love adagio. At the same time, I have long been able to choose with whom, where and what repertoire I want to dance. I am free in spirit,” - Svetlana Zakharova said.

“Even a little girl, who is going to take ballet, can go to the class where she feels comfortable. We have freedom of choice: we can stay with the teacher, with whom we are making progress. An artist must feel free to create,” - added Nina Semizorova, ballet teacher of the Bolshoi Theater.

Makhar Vaziev spoke about an interesting practice of the Bolshoi. Any dancer can prepare any part and apply for any role during regular auditions. This is how the creative freedom manifests itself - if the artist looks convincing in the role, they get it.

“Everyone should have a chance, because this is a creative process. And there are many examples, when dancers have convincingly proven themselves during such auditions."

Russian Ballet is Still the Best

Professionals of the ballet world are sure that traditions of the Russian ballet school help maintain world leadership. The system of mentoring and transfer of creative experience from generation to generation - all this is still present in Russian ballet. And you shouldn’t forget the legendary discipline of artists.

“In the West, many ballet dancers have studio education from private teachers. They have good schools and competent specialists. But people come to us after 8 years of training, and this process continues within the walls of the theater. This is a comprehensive approach,” Nina Semizorova explained.

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