Makhar Vaziev: "A theater means, first of all, people”

Makhar Vaziev: "A theater means, first of all, people”

The Ballet Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Theater, Makhar Vaziev, talked with the founder of the Dozhd Media Holding (TV Rain) Natalya Sindeeva right on the stage of the country's main theater.

They touched upon a variety of topics, and the conversation turned out to be sincere and emotional. At the beginning, Makhar Khasanovich, who has been heading the Bolshoi ballet company for six years, spoke about his experience in two other theaters - the Mariinsky Theater and La Scala. Their approach to work, composition of the troupe, and artistic principles were strikingly different.

“At the Mariinsky - the house of Petipa - they had a tough approach to the legacy of classical dance. The first impression of La Scala was controversial, but I was given carte blanche: we were united by the goal of making this opera house also a ballet space.”

After 12 years at the Mariinsky and 6 years at La Scala, when Vaziev came to the Bolshoi, he knew perfectly well what awaited him.

“I understood what it meant to work at the Bolshoi Theater. It meant working from morning till night.”

Vaziev told Sindeeva in detail how his working day is structured. The most precious thing for him is what is happening on stage. By the way, at the end of the conversation, Vaziev showed a bit how he works, just talking to the theater staff.

A separate topic was the postponement of Kirill Serebrennikov's performance Nureyev and the subsequent highly publicized events. The Ballet Artistic Director of the Bolshoi explained the episode with the postponed premiere succinctly and clearly: the ballet part had to be brought to its logical conclusion, it was to be better prepared.

Today’s productions of the Bolshoi were also discussed. Vaziev talked about how the idea of the recent premieres of the ballets Four Characters in Search of a Plot and Orlando appeared. Christian Spuck and his ballet company came to a festival, and Vaziev asked him to stage an absolutely new performance. After a while, the choreographer suggested Orlando.

He asked: "What do you think about that?" I answered: "Depends on how you do it."

And Four Characters appeared in the difficult 2020. An important result of the staging process was a new creative impetus that all the artists of the Bolshoi got. Makhar Khasanovich emphasized that the theater received a significant and valuable support during these difficult times from the public figure Oleg Deripaska, who really understands ballet and art. His contribution was especially appreciable during the pandemic and helped the theater to survive this hard time.

Vaziev's position as the leader of a large creative team also deserves attention. They have corporate ethics and important rules in the theater, but the most important thing is the ability to talk and negotiate.

“You need to communicate with the artists. When I talk with the artists, I get to know them better. And this helps achieve the best result in the rehearsal room.”

Finally, another important topic of the conversation was the Young Artists Ballet Program, which is being implemented by the Bolshoi Theater with the support of Ingosstrakh. Vaziev came up with the idea 3 or 4 years ago, but it was the pandemic year 2020 that marked the starting point of this program.

A special project of the Bolshoi and Ingosstrakh allows young talented dancers from the regions to get an internship at the Bolshoi Theater. If a participant manages to make a statement on stage, they will have a chance to get into the troupe. Taking part in the program is simple: you just need to send an application and attach a video demonstrating your dancing capabilities. Partner of the program, Ingosstrakh, will cover the travel expenses and provide the participants with a scholarship, and the Bolshoi Theater will ensure accommodation.

“The main task of this all-Russian project is to support ballet dancers in the regions. We want to give them an opportunity, give motivation.”

The program is just starting, so any young ballet dancer who meets the requirements can try out for it. Professional experience and support that the participants receive will definitely have an impact on the ballet infrastructure throughout the country.

To what extent do trustees and sponsors influence the theater's artistic policy? Makhar Khasanovich explained: they don't. They just really love theater.

“A theater means beauty. But people create this beauty on stage. That is why a theater means, first of all, people.”

Selected quotes

Will, desire and consistency, system have always been important to me.

When you are in charge of a huge army of people, a creative team, the last thing you need to think about is yourself. You must think about them.

Wherever I worked, I was always focused on the end result.

In life, you need to be passionate about something. It is impossible otherwise.