BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Entertainment  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 31 December, 2001, 13:30 GMT
Ballet veteran displays modern touch
Bryantsev
Bryantsev produced his first ballet in 1977
BBC News Online's Patrick Jackson meets Dmitry Bryantsev, the man choreographing the Stanislavsky Ballet in London and a life-long devotee of modern dance.

The ideas and views of this veteran choreographer could easily flesh out a book.

There are a lot of intelligent, thinking people who want to be moved, who want their feelings to be disturbed, who want to experience joy

Dmitry Bryantsev
One theme dominates - dance in Russia is alive and well and kicking.

The late Vladimir Bourmeister, one of Bryantsev's predecessors, choreographed the two productions brought by the Stanislavsky to London.

The current director makes no claim to either The Snow Maiden or the upcoming Swan Lake.

"You cannot ask the dead if they want you in their piece or not," he says.

Yet watching him in command at the dress rehearsal, I was left in no doubt that Bryantsev was in perfect control of the material, exacting the best from his dancers with the relentless drive of a master.

"It has taken me 16 years to work this team to this level," he tells me. Sixteen years, and not solely to dance fairy-tales.

Shakespeare to Shaw

Bryantsev was producing ballets long before he took over at the Stanislavsky in 1985, making a mark through collaborations with Soviet television in the late 1970s, notably the much-loved Old Tango.

The Snow Maiden
The Snow Maiden: Bryantsev has made the production his own

Many of his works are inspired by British and Irish literature, from Shakespeare (Othello, Ophelia and The Taming Of The Shrew) to Oscar Wilde (Salome) and George Bernard Shaw (Pygmalion).

If the reputation of the Stanislavsky's artistic director only recently began to grow outside Russia, it is partly due to an episode early in his career.

While on a tour of Mexico in 1970, a colleague defected and Bryantsev was held responsible by the Soviet authorities.

The event meant he was banned from foreign travel for almost 15 years.

Excitement

Bryantsev places himself firmly in the school of modern dance, but dismisses the kind of "ballet" in which "dancers chase air across the stage for an hour without anyone understanding why".

"In contemporary choreography, you can show what is happening in the country, what we are thinking, what our anxieties are," he says.


Educate a person and there will be less chance of them going off and killing somebody and more chance that they will respect other people's lives

Dmitry Bryantsev

"It will be ourselves and that is what's interesting."

Bryantsev has a heavy workload ahead, part of which involves guiding his company through the physical reconstruction of their home, the Music Theatre in the heart of Moscow.

He is now working on four new ballets, one of which - The Circus Is In Town - he plans to complete in time for his son's second birthday.

When Bryantsev begins to talk about another work in progress - a version of the Pushkin short story made famous by Tchaikovsky's opera The Queen Of Spades - he is gripped by excitement.

His concept of the work, which came to him while viewing an existing ballet version, will be a "killer", he says.

He makes clear that his ballets provide an opening for contemporary Russian composers - Korchagin, Besedina, Zdanevich - whether they are rescoring existing music or producing wholly original work.

The grim times most people are undergoing in the former USSR - where the principle of "making money by any means" is king - are never far from Bryantsev's mind, and particularly the lack of investment in education and culture.

"Educate a person," he says, "and there will be less chance of them going off and killing somebody and more chance that they will respect other people's lives."

See also:

21 Dec 01 | Entertainment
Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes