You’re very lucky here that you can have performances in Kazakhstan – Luigi Bonino
NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM - Roland Petit’s celebrated ballet Notre Dame de Paris will take place on January 23 at the Astana Opera Grand Hall. In France, Roland Petit Foundation, which includes the choreographer’s associates, oversees the impeccable preservation of the master’s heritage. Before presenting the world choreographic masterpiece to the capital’s audience, the famous ballet master Luigi Bonino came to the opera house to check the performance quality, Kazinform has learnt from the Astana Opera press service.
- Maestro, it has been 5 years since the premiere of Notre Dame de Paris at Astana Opera. You have staged the revival of this ballet at the Kazakhstani opera house. What is the state of this production now?
- To me, it feels like the premiere was just yesterday. I was very happy, because today, after a long time, I saw the company’s first rehearsal and saw that the dancers remember absolutely everything.
- Your assistant Gillian Whittingham worked with the corps de ballet during the staging. Later, our répétiteurs Elena Sherstneva and Galiya Begalina cemented her efforts. Can the company now, as before, demonstrate flawless synchronicity?
- Absolutely, they are fantastic. I would also like to note that Elena Sherstneva is an amazing répétiteur. She remembers everything, every detail of this choreography. The corps de ballet’s work is sustained in the true spirit of Roland Petit. The dancers’ desire to perform this ballet certainly plays important role. I can see that they really like it. I noticed that there are new people in the corps de ballet. They handle the material well. As for the soloists, we will have the previous cast on the performance day. Nevertheless, we have also tried others, who showed great enthusiasm for the preparation. Unfortunately, this time we have only one performance. However, I really want Sultanbek Gumar to perform this ballet in the future. He is a unique dancer who can handle all the parts. I am also pleased with the young soloist Shugyla Adepkhan.
- Altynai Asylmuratova and Konstantin Zaklinsky worked with the soloists. At one time they themselves danced in Roland Petit’s ballets, just like yourself. Could you please, share your memories: what does it mean to touch the work of a genius?
- For me, it was the it was the best moment, when he was creating something new, because he had so much imagination. It flowed like water, or like a fountain. When he came to the studio, he never knew what would happen. He started to dance and we were following him. After that he would tell us what to do and when it is better to do something else. Roland Petit was truly a genius. It was really the music that inspired him. Altynai Asylmuratova and Konstantin Zaklinsky also danced many of his ballet performances, so they can now share their experience and skill with the company.
- Roland Petit intended this ballet as a story of Quasimodo and created this part for himself. Is it the most difficult part in this ballet?
- It is very complex, because it requires a lot of internal substance, emotional, rather than technical. Technically, the parts of Phoebus and Frollo are very difficult, because they have very complicated variations. However, all the four main characters, Quasimodo, Frollo, Esmeralda and Phoebus, are onstage all the time, which is really challenging physically.
- Especially, perhaps, for the performer of the part of Quasimodo, who has to ‘dance’ his hump, as it is not a part of his costume or a prop?
- Indeed. The day after the performance, you will not even be able to move your shoulder and arm. This is a specific plastique and maintaining such a position for such a prolonged period of time is difficult, even painful. Given that the dancer has to keep up this position of the shoulder and arm for 2 hours while also dancing.
- What are your plans for the near future?
- I was supposed to go to Paris and work on Notre Dame de Paris at Opera Bastille. We also planned to present performances of Carmen, Le Jeune Homme et la Mort and Le Rendez-vous at this opera house. However, we never know whether or not I will be there, every day, there are changes...
- What is the current situation in the world with staging premieres and theatres’ work?
- Now in Europe everything is closed. I did not work for 9 months, because due to quarantine, all performances were canceled. I was supposed to go to Japan, China, Russia, England, France and all my contracts were canceled. Practically nothing is running in theatres. In Italy, La Scala presented a little piece of 20 minutes, but it was in streaming, on television, without an audience in the hall. The situation is the same in Rome, they staged something, but without an audience. It is very difficult, especially for the dancers, because we need to move, need the ballet studios, need an audience. At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was doing okay working at home, doing plie in their kitchens, taking ballet classes online. Although now all the dancers lost their spirit. You are very lucky here that you can have performances, and with an audience. Even if it is a limited number of viewers, it gives an incentive to dancers and all high art aficionados.