Kirov dancers invigorate BA ballet
Buenos Aires Herald
October 17, 1999
By Susan Zaraysky
Stars of one of Russia’s most celebrated ballet theatres have once again graced the stage of the Colón Theatre bringing Buenos Aires a different style of dancing and musical sensitivity.
Dancers Svetlana Zajarova, Evgueni Ivanchenko and Faruk Ruzimatov and Argentine conductor Gustavo E. Plis-Sterenberg from the Kirov Ballet of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg have been in Buenos Aires for the past month preparing the ballet, The Corsair.
Historically, Russian ballet theatres have dazzled world audiences with their energetic, graceful and polished performances, far surpassing their international peers.
Gustavo Plis-Sterenberg is an Argentine, who moved to the former Soviet Union 13 years ago to study music and is now conducting the Kirov Ballet Orchestra.
With a touch of sorrow for his home country, Plis-Sterenberg explains the difference between his Russian colleagues and Argentine musicians, “Argentine ballet orchestras do not know how to properly play a ballet score. The music does not accompany the ballet, nor does the ballet accompany the music, rather they are an ensemble. They must work together like parts of a clock.”
Maybe the secret to the Russian ballet is the way both the musicians and the dancers feel the music. “Western dancers count the music when they dance, Russian-trained dancers let their soul feel the music and their body moves naturally to the sounds of the orchestra,” Plis-Sterenberg adds.
Classical music appreciation was required in Russian schools and during communist times schoolchildren were forced to go to operas, ballets and classical music concerts on class trips. Classical music is not only ingrained in elite culture, but it is a staple of mainstream Russian life.
However, the traditionalism of Russian arts has its downsides as well. Uzbekistani-born Kirov soloist, Faruk Ruzimanov, regrets that he was not able to study modern dance when he was studying ballet in the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg. In The Corsair, he brilliantly dances the role of Ali, the fiery Greek slave.
During Soviet times, Soviet dancers defected to Western countries while on tour and took advantage of not only promoting their classical dance careers, but also of exploring the world of modern dance. The celebrated Russian danceur Mikhail Barishnikov defected to the US while on tour with the Kirov and formed the White Oak Dance Project in New York which performs a repertoire of various modern choreographies. George Balanchine created the New York City Ballet because in the Soviet Union his choreographies were forbidden as they strayed from the classical school.
During such hard economic and political times in Russia, passionate, energetic and concentrated dance can prove difficult. When asked about how he copes with the war in Chechnya, the decaying health of Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the overall degradation of life in Russia while making the effort to perform his best on stage, Ruzimatov explains, “Of course it’s hard, but it’s my country. I do my work and the politicians do theirs. The most important thing for me is my profession.”
The Russian cast will dance again today ay 5pm at the Colón Theatre.