What it takes to make it in ballet
Two classics to watch this weekend
Ballet comes to the UAE this weekend with the Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia staging productions of two classics, Coppelia and Giselle, at Dubai Opera. Ahead of the shows we caught up with Sergei Bobrov, formerly a principal dancer with the world famous Bolshoi Ballet and now artistic director at the Russian State Ballet.
Tell us a bit about the performers we will be watching...
We are a state ballet company, from Krasnoyarsk (in Siberia) and all our soloists are the laureates, the prize winners, of different competitions around the world.
The ballet masters of the Bolshoi Ballet come to Krasnoyarsk to work with them. I always invite my friends and I am a product of the Bolshoi, and together we help them and teach them in the classical traditions of the Bolshoi.
Tell us about your time at the Bolshoi.
For 20 years I was the soloist of the Bolshoi and as a choreographer, I am the only disciple and pupil of the famous Russian choreographer and artistic director Yury Grigorovich.
What did it take to become a soloist with the Bolshoi.
Quite simply, you need to be the best. In terms of strength and physical fitness, it is like preparing to participate in an Olympic Games. At the Olympics you need to get yourself together, get that result and then relax. But with ballet there is a full performance and you need to carry on in the same form, never relax.
How did you get your big break?
I was originally a swimmer as a child. But aged 10, I was discovered by accident to be honest. A man from the Moscow Ballet School came to my school when we were in a gymnastics class and he asked if I would like to join and become a dancer. I was one of 50 who he proposed for the school and originally I only went to study there because I liked how the building looked!
How much work did it take for you to make it into the Bolshoi company?
From 9am to 6pm we practised ballet every single day (from the age of 10). And when I went to the Bolshoi, ballet class started at 10am and then with rehearsals and performance, we finished at 10pm. But when I wanted to get a role I would stay on for another two hours, until midnight, in the rehearsal room with my little tape recorder to become the best and be chosen to dance in that role.
So what is your proudest achievement?
Actually it is now, as an artistic director. I have created 18 full-length ballets and five full-length operas since the year 2000.
I look on the performance and choreography at this very moment as my beloved ones, and the ones I am working on currently are like a little child who is growing and so I am very proud of the productions and everyone involved.
Watch Coppelia tonight at 8pm or at 4pm on Saturday. Giselle is staged on Friday at 3.30 and 8pm. Visit dubaiopera.com for tickets and information