Designers of the Dance


Designers of the Dance

With stunning performances of five unique dance pieces, Designers of the Dance takes you a step further, into the studio with legendary dancers and choreographers to learn about the works and process that go into making these five ballets great: The Nutcracker, Leonid Lavrovsky’s Romeo & Juliet, Lar Lubovitch’s Othello, Alastair Marriott’s Lieder, and Yuri Possikhov’s Diving into the Lilacs.

AIRED: November 09, 2017 | 0:58:46

>>ANNOUNCER: Designers of the

Dance is made possible in part

through the generous support of

Eskenazi Health, advancing the

role of art in health and

>>NARRATOR: Choreography is more

than ideas and steps, and

choreographers more than mere

It is their visions, their

ideals, their spirits that

present to us a reflection of

ourselves, of our lives and


And it is through the vibrance

of this art form charged with

energy and emotion that

resonates through time, and

transports or enlightens us on

With music as their muse, it is

their calling to bring shape and

movement towards many facets of

And while each approaches the

artistic process differently,

and each emerges with their own

individual results, it is the

interactions that transpire,

hidden away in a dance studio,

when the relationships that will

define a work are forged, that

the physical and emotional core

While steps and movement are

among a choreographer's tools,

it is the essence within the

heart and soul of Man that

creates the expression, mood,

and spirit of what we call

It touches our humanity, and

>>GENNADI: We all came from the

same school, Bolshoi Ballet


generations, so we are 10 years

apart each of us.

Yes of course.

>>GENNADI: You're the youngest


>>MARIA: Also, the school

changed as the time changed.

I was at school through the

'90s, which wasn't the best time

in Russian history, and they

have different memories from the

same place.

>>GENNADI: But the same

teachers, we went through the

same teachers.

>>MARIA: Through same teachers,

that's true.

>>GENNADI: They connect the


>>MARIA: It wasn't my happiest

time, that's for sure.

I remember being scared all the


I mean, there were of course

happy moments, but somehow the

fear of...I don't know, being


>>YURI: We usually understand

each other when I will start to

talk about something, especially

about dance, about art, so there

is something common between all

of us that brings us together.

>>GENNADI: All part of one

>>YURI: Why lilacs?

Why it's a memory of the school?

Because bushes of lilacs had

been surrounded all over our


>>GENNADI: In the yard of the

school, because it has a-

>>YURI: Even outside.

>>MARIA: And it always blooms

around May, June, when we have


The smell of it, the excitement.

>>YURI: You're taking class in

this school.

>>GENNADI: You take class.

Windows are open.

>>YURI: It smells everywhere.

It's our favorite, actually,


>>GENNADI: Same here, same here.

>>YURI: It's musical, but it's

Tchaikovsky so it's very Russian

music, very sensitive music.

Very powerful, everything.

For me, music is language.

There's a kind of new way of

choreography now that people

using music as background.

It's kind of music of help them

to keep reason as choreography.

Unfortunately, I can't do it.

As choreographer, for me it's

important to express each bar

that had been written by a

I have to first fall in love

with music, after I have to

understand or maybe to find my

own expression of this music.

So I would prefer in music

phrases, because phrases give me

chance to talk with audience.

There's no other way for me.

>>GENNADI: Yuri was ... He

helped me to develop as an


I learned how to move like he


It's like when I was dancing I

was trying to mimic his body

position in order to produce the

same quality of movement in his

>>MARIA: I don't know, I

approach movement very similar

to Yuri, so for me it feels very


It's still challenging and hard.

It's classical, but it has this,

you obviously need to be a

classical dancer to do any of

Yuri's ballets, but it has this

freedom that for me classical

ballet is missing.

I feel like his choreography for

me now is what classical ballet

would be for people a century


Everything is much bigger, the

movement technique of it, it's

all taken in a completely

different level.

It's challenging, it's

beautiful, it has everything in

>>LAR: I intended from the

I did go to the Julliard School

and work with some wonderful

choreography instructors.

My main teacher there was Antony

The thing that I picked up from

Tudor was that it was a form of

poetry, it was a form of

movement poetry that we were

speaking of things.

We weren't just doing body

articulations or technical


I think the ultimate objective

was not to dance to the music

but to be the music.

I often instruct dancers, even

now, in their approach to

dancing to become the music, to

be the music.

To be an additional line of

music that's not written on the


The visual line of music.

That they're not dancing next to

or on top of music, but

basically within the music.

>>JULIE: It's always a great

working with Lar, because I

think, after all the years we've

been dancing together, he trusts

what we do together.

>>LAR: One does not create a

dance in a vacuum.

It's a co-creation of a

choreographer and dancers with

>>JULIE: It sort of builds and

grows and morphs and I think

sometimes opens his own eyes to

oh, what that could be.

>>LAR: Julie and Marcelo are

very inspiring to watch, and

because of what they're capable

of physically and poetically

they've had a good hand in

helping me solve some of the

problems that were left over in

From the idea of creating

Othello was put forward to the

time it actually happened was

very fast, it was really one

>>JULIE: It was a very intense

experience, I have to say.

It was very stressful.

The bulk of the stress was due

to the fact that Elliot

Goldenthal, the composer, was

literally writing the music and

handing it to Lar at five

o'clock in the morning, and Lar

would come in and have to

choreograph like that, like just

>>LAR: The energy created by

that sort of stimulus, the

tension required that one think

fast, move fast, work fast.

Tension is a good thing.

We think it's a bad thing, but

tension is balanced by release.

In relationship to the dancers

playing specific characters, I

never speak to the dancers about

their acting or how to interpret

the character.

I speak to them in terms of the

movements, the dynamics, the

relationship to the music.

The spacing.

I always feel that the dancer

who is a poet will find meaning

in that.

>>MARCELO: Othello made me

question my acting abilities


He is such a powerful being on

stage just by standing there.

How much power can you have with

both feet on the ground?

That was a really big learning

>>LAR: I felt very strongly that

I wanted to do a story dance.

Othello struck me as a story

that could be told in pictures

since its themes are so well

known to everyone, the theme of

>>JULIE: It really speaks to

Desdemona's love of Othello that

is so deep that even though she

doesn't understand why, she's

willing to sacrifice herself

>>LAR: Even as he must take away

her life, he does it as a

gesture of love in a very

What Othello is actually doing

here is reenacting a prayer of

sanctification that he preformed

at the very beginning of the

dance before his marriage to


In this final moment, in keeping

with his beliefs, he must

sanctify Desdemona's body before

ending her life.

In his mind, he is purifying her

of sin before releasing her


He sees this sacrifice as an act

of love.

He believes that she has been

stainless her entire life, and

her purity has been part of what

has been his ... The depth of

his love, and this level of

purity had a connection, and he

believes he has been made impure

and is no longer the same


He believes, and she believes in

fact, that she's going to a

better place by being relieved

of the stress of this life and

the dilemma that's been created.

In the very final moments of the

duet, she reaches up to him as

he puts the scarf around her

>>ALASTAIR: I did a piece with

Ned Warren, the composer, and I

read his diaries.

because nobody was writing the

kind of music he needed.

I understood what he meant by


The people weren't

choreographing ballets that I

wanted to be in, or that I

wanted to watch, so I thought

well, maybe I could have a good.

Then, of course, people liked

it, so then before I knew where

I was, I was launched as a


Whereas actually it was just an

experiment to see if I could do

Well, I think Melissa has an

incredible body for a start.

It lends itself to romantic

ballets, whether they're

abstract or narrative because

it's so physical but very, very


It's kind of an aesthetic that

all dancers want to have.

It's one of those enviable


But she's an interpretive

dancer, so she works very well

in narrative pieces.

So this piece, even though it

has abstract ideas, I think she

looks better when she tells it

Eric is a very physical

interpretive dancer.

We're used to seeing Eric as a

very strong presence on stage,

and he plays a lot of very

individual roles where he is

almost bordering on contemporary

dance in modern ballets.

He's a very a strong partner.

But he's also very handsome, so

he does a lot of modeling.

When you use him, it's almost

like a sculpture.

That lends itself instantly to

these pieces.

They physically match, even

though one is black and one is


It has a kind of tension.

There's a sexiness to it,

because she's very fair and he's

very dark, that I think is

>>ERIC: We've built quite a


I've danced lots of stuff with


You know when you just meet

someone and it just works?

I think we have like minds in

the studio for sure.

We get in there, and it's work,

and it's to try and get the best

outcome possible.

I think choreographers can see

that as well, the dynamic, and

they get the most out of us.

>>MELISSA: And to have ballets

that will one day be the Romeo

and Juliets and the [inaudible]

of our time.

I think it's an incredibly

special opportunity for us to

have, and always something new

>>ALASTAIR: He sings that

there's a burning tear.

It's very, very romantic, and it

talks about a burning tear on

the cheek, and "Where are you?"

And I think it's much more

sensitive when you think of it

as being a close up, like in a


Do you know what I mean?

The more we just see eyes, and

kind of ... so when you crumble,

you should always crumble, I

think, with your fingertips


>>MELISSA: And then the head


>>ALASTAIR: Because it's

much sadder than crumbling with


>>ALASTAIR: Yeah, yeah.

The final song is poetically

right that it should be the

saddest, because it's almost

like a reflection, something

that looks back in time.

It seemed poetically right that

it should follow that natural

course, so at the end of your

life you look back and realize

that the most important thing

>>ALEXEI: My previous work was

I spent five years as artistic


At the end of this contract

time, I felt that administrative

work is a very heavy burden, and

it really limits my freedom as a


Of course, Bolshoi was an

amazing experience for me, but

at the same time I really wanted

to explore the world outside and

Since my school years, I always

visualized, in my head,

movements when I heard the

music, which led me to thoughts

that I should be a

Well, I always loved ballet

history and collected books and

images, so this is part of me.

On the other hand, there was a

need for a lens for the story.

The theaters are always asking

>>GILLIAN: Alexei's always very

soft spoken, but always very


He's very specific about how he

wants us to be dynamic in our

musicality and our physicality,

to change the levels.

Not just to be one level, but

really using a deep plié and

shifting from low lunges to be

lifts very quickly, and things

>>JAMES: It's kind of funny,


When he's in the studio, he has

this sort of quiet demeanor.

He'll lean forward and ask you

to try something again and again

and again, and really

encouraging musicality and

dynamics, and you find yourself

completely ruined by the time

the rehearsal's over and you're

just in a puddle on the floor,

and then you have five more

>>GILLIAN: It's true.

>>JAMES: It's really hard.

He has such an eagle eye for


It's almost disconcerting at

first because the level of

detail can be a little


>>JAMES: When he's in the room,

I respect him and his work so

much that I want to work, which

unfortunately isn't always the


That respect demands a certain

level of compliance, which I'm

willing to give, I don't know

about you.


>>GILLIAN: Sure.

>>JAMES: Me too.

>>ALEXEI: So, in our version, in

ABT's version,

Clara and Nutcracker are done by

>>GILLIAN: It's about Clara and

the prince's journey into

adulthood, basically.

They're instantly transformed

from being the children into

>>ALEXEI: I always felt that

Carries so much meaning that

it's very hard to find equally

impressive steps on stage.

There are moments in the music

that you clearly see Tchaikovsky

I think it was a difficult time

for Tchaikovsky.

His sister just died, and he was


He was going through a lot of

emotional unsettlement.

Somehow, despite the sweet

story, he infused this music

with his own sadness.

I hear that, and it reflects a

little bit on the choreographer,

that even the happiest moment,

it goes by just like that.

Musicality, imagination, and

ability to let it go, to

improvise, not to have

everything set.

Of course the rest has to be

set, but then there is something

extra that they need to bring on

stage to communicate to the

So, because they're still kids,

even though they imagine

themselves and the audience see

the adults, they're not in love.

They don't know what love is,

but it's like an anticipation of


Of course Clara is as, in life

the girls, and it'll foster,

to develop faster than the boys,

so she does feel it already and

the prince is just being a very

polite friend, supports her.

They just look up at the sky and

>>Then there is this beautiful

celesta solo that hits upon

the scenario he wrote.

We need to hear the sound of

>>VLADISLAV: I remember the

situation 10 years ago.

When Mikhail Lavrovsky picked me

out of the final exams at the


"Come to the Bolshoi.

You'll work with me and we'll do

very well." It was kind of a

gift from fate that such a

legend, such a person, such a

>>MIKHAIL: My parents were


My mother was a dancer, and my

father was a dancer for a very

short time before becoming a


He truly loved his profession,

that of a choreography.

He never raised his voice.

He was calm, and dancers could

work together with him for up to

six hours at a time.

He commanded respect.

Not fear, respect.

He somehow allowed us to realize

our potential.

He would say, "Misha, keep in

mind that you can change

everything if you do it with

>>EVGENIA: The key thing is what

Mikhail Lavrovsky said in

today's rehearsal.

"What is needed here is an

You just need to completely

forget about the kind of set

poses that are typical in

classical dance and be a real

life person, and give the ballet

>>MIKHAIL: No one could

challenge my father directly.

Afterwards, people could say

things, criticize him, but when

they were talking directly with

him, Leonid was in charge.

My father was 100% a romantic.

When he started his work in 1943

on Romeo and Juliet, this was

how he saw things.

The production was completed

that the music of Sergei

Prokofiev was not well received

at first.

Prokofiev's score has many

musical themes which come into

conflict with each other.

My father liked the music very

much, it was a masterpiece, and

in 1956 it was finally largely

recognized as such.

Prokofiev was a very warm

person, and generally speaking

It's a short ballet with only

two themes.

The theme of love, and the theme

of fate.

But it's a big production, three


You need to develop every

character, which I think

Against the general background

of Italian life, where the

Renaissance was only just

starting to make its influence

felt, and the Middle Ages

retreating, he showed the

tragedy of people in love who

found themselves at this

He wanted to show everything in

this vibrant, wonderful life,

how people come into conflict

with each other, and then a

tragedy happens and society does

One gains ground, another

retreats, and then one theme

starts to prevail.

This is how Lavrovsky created

his productions.

He showed Verona as being full

of life.

Because there is no doubt ballet

has within the physical dilemmas

of people like Shakespeare or

Dostoevsky, it cannot be

understood without language.

Love, emotions, rage, outbursts,

striving towards the light.

These strong human feelings.

Ballet needs to have even more

Evgenia Obraztsova and Vladislav

Lantratov showed that once again

inspiration and great art have

returned to the stage.

The wonderful dancer Lantratov,

he is brilliant.

He is continuing the traditions

of Konstantin Sergeyev, who

There was a time we began to

move away from emotions, from

what Galina Ulanova, the creator

of Juliet embodied.

But there is Evgenia Obraztsova

from the brilliant Leningrad

School who has big emotions and

These are dancers who, in my

opinion, are able to honorably

continue the traditions of

>>ANNOUNCER: Designers of the

Dance is made possible in part

through the generous support of

Eskenazi Health, advancing the

role of art in health and


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