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Meeting-place by Pushkin
Stars of Russian ballet created ballet for German theatre
Fairy-tale about tzar Saltan
Serious music on balalaika


There is a house built in tzars period of time downtown St. Petersburg on bank of Fontanka river a tributary of the Neva. Here a meeting takes place of the four ballet-dancers, who want to know if Russian ballet can be something more than just a reproduction of the 19th century. Arguing with fervency they sit at the kitchen table: Kirill Melnikov (the first soloist of Bavarian state ballet), his wife Yelena Pankova (doesn't dance in the state ballet any more), Dmitriy Katunin (teacher of folk dance at Bavarian ballet academy) and Adrian Davis (former ballet-dancer of London Covent-Garden-Company). "Bewitched swan" - is a creation for Munich and they experience euphoria at the last rehearsals in St. Petersburg. As soon as tomorrow the stage set and costumes will be loaded onto a truck so that they arrive to German theatre on time for the premiere of the new ballet (performances starting December 2nd, 8 p.m.).
"Bewitched swan" - not a single person in the whole creative team is entirely satisfied with this title. "It, presumably, reminds too much of "Swan lake" by Tschaykovskiy", -- Kirill Melnikov is reasoning. "While our story does not have anything in common with this ballet. We are telling the fairy-tale about tzar Saltan in dance".
Books by Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) for St. Petersburg citizens such as Melnikov and Pankova couple or choreographer Dmitriy Katunin are essential reading. But they see strong correlation between "Tzar Saltan" and marvelous buildings of emperors, seen by Pushkin every day. Meeting-place - is Pushkin, a town where Katherine's palace built in baroque style is situated. In times of Pushkin the town used to be called Tzar's village and in the beginning for the poet it meant a gymnasium, which adjoins the palace church. May be Pushkin even saw the celebrated amber room, since his grandfather figured often at court. Later Pushkin lived here in his country-house, which is still in a good state.
The governing style of tzars find its reflection in "Fairy-tale about tzar Saltan" as well. The youngest of the three peasant ladies marries the tzar, and her spiteful sisters take care of the princess and her son's way to a deserted island. The ending is happy thanks to the princess, who was turned into a swan. It is three years already since Kirill Melnikov and producer Adrian Davis have been working on ballet version of the fairy-tale. Davis has a theory: "Nowadays it is important not to let the art sink into days of old and die. Therefore we have to develop ballet further".
Choreographer Dmitriy Katunin had enough reasons to go his own way: "I don't stage classical dance in the common sense, it is in its way a neo-classic art, which Spoerli or Neumeier show. Since this fairy-tale has many folk scenes, the influence of Russian folk dance is of course obvious".
Education goes before any dance style. And in this case Melnikov found ideal partners in troupe "Classical ballet of St. Petersburg".
"It is one of the five major troupes of the city", the most celebrated ballet-dancer in Munich says. But Melnikov - in ballet he is a driven away prince, who later calls himself prince Guidon - and Yelena Pankova (bewitched princess) dream of something else - of music. "Operas by Rimskiy-Korsakov and Musorgskiy, orchestra compositions by Tschaykovskiy, all classical in Western sense music is performed not by a symphony orchestra but by Russian folk instruments orchestra. Musicians sit on stage and present a part of our staging".
"Art-Contrast" - is the orchestra in which international stage society feels very interested. It consists of six musicians, who studied only serious music in St. Petersburg conservatoire to perform it then on the instruments from Domra-family, balalaika or bayan. Namely this is the dance and the music which not only Peter the Great and Catherine the Great could hear in their palaces. It is the art language of Russia.
Producer Adrian Davis even now sees more in "Bewitched swan" than just a ballet for the most favourite Munich ballet-dancers: "For Kirill and Yelena it is a chance to create their own troupe one day. A troupe of dancers with whom they will bring to life their ideas for new ballets".

Marianne Reißinger
" Abendzeitung ",


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