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Worship of Russian soul
"Bewitched swan" by Pushkin in German theatre

Munich - "Play needs Russian soul", - Kirill Melnikov, the first soloist of Bavarian state ballet says. And since it is hard to impose it on German ballet-dancers, Melnikov and his wife Elena Pankova, who spent many years being a soloist in the National theatre as well, put ballet-dancers from St. Petersburg on stage of the German theatre.
At the premiere of the fairy-tale by Pushkin "Bewitched swan" the celebrated ballet couple dared to step on unknown ground. Ballet-dancers not only perform the main parts but are also in charge of the whole artistic concept.
"We wrote libretto, chose the music and collaborated with the choreographer closely", - they relate. This was a big challenge. But the hardest thing was to organize and coordinate co-operation between Munich and St. Petersburg.
Such an expensive split between Munich and Petersburg just for Russian soul? "All Russian ballet-dancers go through the same school", - Pankova, the former student of Vaganov ballet school in St. Petersburg herself explains. "They breath the same way", - she continues. Meaning that the movements of the Russian troupe in ballet are much more harmonic and synchronous than they could be in an international troupe with dancer from different schools.
Moreover, in St. Petersburg there are six years of artistic folk dance, the so called "character dance" on curriculum. It is the one that gives the local colouring, which brings life to "Bewitched swan" and helps the audience to understand Russian soul.
The young tzar's son Guidon together with his mother due to spiteful intrigues are driven out of the palace and end up finding themselves on a bank of a deserted island. Right after arrival he sees a swan fighting a bird hawk and saves his life. Swan as a sign of his gratefulness gives him a magic feather as a present, with the help of which Guidon frees his father from the circle of fake friends. And as I usually occurs in fairy-tales the swan happens to be not a swan but a bewitched princess:
Rimskiy-Korsakov in 1900 composed on this plot opera "Fairy-tale about tzar". Melnikov and Pankova chose three parts from it for their ballet performance, for example the celebrated "Bumblebee flight". But the ballet is not only based on melodies by Rimskiy-Korsakov. There are pieces by Musorggskiy and Tschaykovskiy. In any case they sound the way they have never before: not only because St. Petersburg ensemble "Art-Contrast" is sitting in costumes tight on stage, and becomes as the saying goes the part of stage-decoration. But also because the orchestra music is performed on old-time traditional musical instruments, such as accordion, balalaika and domra. And at least now Munich audience will finally believe they know what exactly Russian soul is.

Verena Richter
"Welt am Sonntag",


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