Ottawa Citizen

Kirov, students speak the language of dance

- BY SUSAN HICKMAN

“ My English very very bad. Your Russian good?”

Kirov ballet master Gennady Selyutsky surveys the 28 young Canadian dancers eagerly awaiting him to begin class. Selyutsky continues to speak to the dancers, this time in Russian. His interprete­r interjects: “ We will speak the language of dance.”

And so the class begins with the familiar phrases all dancers recognize, which are in fact French: port de bras, plié, glissade, arabesque …

The class, held in a rehearsal hall at the National Arts Centre yesterday, was one of two offered to advanced- level ballet dancers and students, some as young as 14, by ballet masters of the Kirov Ballet, in town this week for six performanc­es of Swan Lake. Yury Fateev will lead another class at The School of Dance Friday.

From time to time during yesterday’s session, Selyutsky asked his interprete­r to tell the students to open up their shoulders, straighten their backs or turn their heads to the left.

“ Are you tired?” the 68year- old Selyutsky asks after about half an hour. Some students shake their heads. “ I tired,” he responds, but easily picks up the pace and runs the dancers through another hour of routine barre exercises, floor work and, for the last 20 minutes of class, “ Let’s dance a little bit.”

After the class, Selyutsky explains through an interprete­r that there is no difference between a dancer in Canada and one in Russia. “ Russian and Canadian — it all comes down to the possibilit­y of the physical and the raw material.”

He enjoyed giving the class and said he’d like to come back in 2008 to see how the students are doing, and will continue to work with dancers God lets me.”

Selyutsky, who first danced with the Kirov 50 years ago and has been its ballet master for 30 years, said today’s students are serious. “ If they weren’t discipline­d, I wouldn’t give the class. When people are interested and participat­ing in the artistic process, it comes naturally.”

Catherine Friesen, 27, who dances profession­ally with Premier Choix, said it was “ amazing to take a master class with a ballet master from the Kirov.

“ It’s important for profession­als to keep up their training, so you have to grab an opportunit­y like this.”

Jaladriel Adlard, 31, who also dances with Premier Choix, said the language barrier is not a problem. “ Most of my training was ‘ Russian’ with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, so it just feels like home. Even though school was a long time ago, it’s still in your body somewhere.”

“ as long

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 ?? ASHLEY FRASER, THE OTTAWA CITZEN ?? Ballet master Gennady Selyutsky with Catherine Friesen.
ASHLEY FRASER, THE OTTAWA CITZEN Ballet master Gennady Selyutsky with Catherine Friesen.

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