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RUSSIAN BALLET - A WORK OF ART                   Journalist: Myriam Sainson

Date: December 14, 2011  Region: Sherbrooke

lart du ballet russe 5January 2nd, 2012 will be remembered forever in the archives of the Granada Theatre in Sherbrooke, as the date of the exclusing arrival of the first of the Great Russian Ballets. In this case, the Grands Ballets Russe, directed by Andrea Litvinov, Grand Master of Ballet, for the last 5 years, at the Moscow Ballet. As part of its 19th annual tour in North America, the Grands Ballets Russe offers “The Nutcracker”, a production which involves a troupe of 40 dancers and 30 professional coaches. The dancers are from both the Mariinski Theatre (built in 1860), in St. Petersbourg and the Bolishoi Theatre of Moscow, which recently reopened in October 2011 after being closed for renovations. The two important elements of this particular Russian folklore are Santa Claus and Snow White...

On Tuesday, December 13 at Savoroso, at the Marché de la gare de Sherbrooke, had the pleasure of meeting the president and promoter of the tour, Viorel Balan, an encounter which proved most rewarding and inspiring since our discussions focused onlart du ballet russe photo 1 Russian Ballet as an artform, a traditional artform that conveys “the values that we hold dear”, as proudly pointed out by Viorel Balan.

The dance troupe includes two ballet stars, Natalia Balan, Viorel Balan’s sister, who is recognized as the top Russian Ballet dancer in the world, and Anatolii Ustimov who portrays the Nutcracker. The first time ‘The Nutcracker’ was presented on December 18, 1892, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersbourg, to the music of Piotr. Llitch

Tchaïkovsky, to the choregraphy of Lev Svanov, is a '' magic ballet'', inspired by Alexandre Dumas, -- a two-act tale of Hoffmann which begins in the Stahlbaum family home, during the holidays. The main character, Clara, a little girl who later becomes Masha, will experience an extraordinary adventure with ‘the Nutcracker’ at her side -- this soldier, dressed in parade uniform, would become the international symbol of Christmas.lart du ballet russe 3

At the time of the première, in 19e century Russia, the situation was conducive to the outbreak of ballet as an artform, with France audiences growing tired of it. Since that time, ‘the Nutcracker’ has been a success, constantly being renewed... Today, part of Act 2 has been removed but, in contrast with the interpretation by Great Canadian Ballets, the one presented by the Great Russian Ballet is danced completely with the traditional presence of the Russian dolls, born in the Russian folklore, creating the quality of the message everywhere...The 1892 interpretation of the Nutcracker has evolved over time. In particular, it experienced a psychological turning point, in the 30s-40s, where this Russian ballet became a play about the dream which lives in the depths of one’s heart.lart du ballet russe photo 2

Viorel Balan, who speaks with great passion, comes from a family of three generations of ballet dancers - his grandfather and his father. Althought it seems being a dancer is not to be his fate, his young daughter will become a ballerina and thus will continue this famous family tradition. For Balan, the success of the Russian Ballet is due to the Vaganova ballet method, named after the ballet master at the Leningrad dance school, in 1921. The ballet is “art par excellence”, on the pointes, where movement expresses itself in all its flexibility, where the dancers-partners propel themselves with strength and grace, and finally, perfection is achieved on stage.

lart du ballet russe 4The Great Russian Balletis in the process of installing itself, permanently, in Montreal and for Viorel Balan, this is part of its mission to become a non-profit organization, extending the art of the Russian Ballet throughout Canada and North America and as he put it: '' The future belongs to everyone”. Creating a studio in Montreal will also give them a chance to give back a part of the profits, to charitable organizations such as the Canadian Foundation for Liver Disease.



Photo 1: Viorel Balan, during our meeting

Photo 2: Viorel Balan with ‘The Nutcracker of the Marché de la gare’

          Photos: Myriam Sainson

                                  Additional Photos courtesy of The Great Russian Ballet

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