Posted on November 16, 2017
In the print edition of November’s Dancing Times, Margaret Willis talked to the Bolshoi ballerina Svetlana Zakharova about Amore, her forthcoming show in London. Margaret also found time to talk to Zakharova’s male stage partners, and we publish here what they had to say
A Bolshoi principal, Mikhail Lobukhin (who dances Giovanni in Francesca da Rimini) trained at the Vaganova Academy in St Petersburg and was a member of the Maryinsky Ballet for seven years. Aware of the vast repertoire of different styles and works that the Bolshoi was constantly offering, and longing “to perform the fully developed roles” in Yuri Grigorovich’s ballets, he switched cities and joined the Bolshoi. “Svetlana invited me to dance in her Zakharova and Friends programme just when I had reached a certain point in my career. Thanks to her – she is so enthusiastic about learning new things – I have enlarged my repertoire. We also dance together at the Bolshoi.”
Leading soloist Denis Savin loves dramatic ballets and is another great admirer of Grigorovich’s works. His own stage life hasn’t been short of dramatic moments either. As a fresh, young corps de ballet member, he was selected to play Romeo in Radu Poklitaru and Declan Donnellan’s controversial take on Romeo and Juliet, and in 2015 took the role of Hamlet in their modern version of Shakespeare’s drama. Earlier, he had stepped in at the last minute to take over for an injured principal. “I was very nervous, but there was no way I was going to give up this chance to dance – I wanted it so badly. In 2016, Svetlana asked me to be part of her Amore team. My role in Rain before it falls is as the third person, and for me it’s almost Kafkaesque. This ballet is not a concrete story – rather a sketch and I like the drama. I mainly sit with my legs hanging over the edge of the stage, gesticulating wildly, telling something different to what is going on with the couple behind me. Many people ask me what it is about, but I can’t tell them. It has to do with overwhelming feelings.”
In 2014, Zakharova was due to dance Alberto Alonso’s Carmen Suite at a gala honouring her teacher Olga Moiseyeva, and she didn’t have a partner. So she decided to invite the handsome young Denis Rodkin and introduce him to the dance world. The idea payed off and soon Rodkin was regularly getting leading roles. “She is a most confident partner because, while having a great status on stage, she always remains calm and friendly. Any success is also thanks to my former coach Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who advised me when I first joined the Bolshoi. He asked if I thought I would be happy to work in the back row of the corps carrying a spear all my life. He made me believe in myself and I was coached daily by him and am very grateful for all his hard work.” Rodkin will portray Paolo in Francesca da Rimini.
Patrick de Bana
Not only is Patrick de Bana the choreographer of Rain before it falls, but he is also Zakharova’s partner in the one-act work. He has an easy and elegant style and, because he has created the work, the couple move smoothly and gracefully together throughout their encounters. He has made several works for the prima ballerina, making her body react in different, un-classical ways and to different rhythms. To him, she is a modern dancer.
Amore plays at the London Coliseum on November 20-21 and November 24-25. Visit eno.org to book tickets.
Pictured: Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Rodkin in Francesca da Rimini. Photograph: Alain Hanel.