Mar 262013

Karen_KainIn three weeks’ time the National Bal­let of Canada will arrive at London’s . After a 26 years away from the cap­ital The Times asked dir­ector  why:

Until this sea­son we hadn’t been any­where. Basic­ally we didn’t have the rep­er­toire that was allow­ing us to get the invit­a­tions. I knew that part of what I needed to do to get the com­pany seen again, or even heard of again, was develop the kind of rep­er­toire that people wanted to see.

So what do people want to see? One of the hot­test cho­reo­graph­ers on the planet to be sure, so it will per­form ’s  which he cre­ated for the com­pany in 2011 to mark its 60th anniversary.

It took me three or four years to get Alexei but the wait was worth it; his pro­duc­tion is really beau­ti­ful and touch­ing, and the thing I love about him is that he still works in the clas­sical idiom without try­ing to shred it, decon­struct it or throw it away. He puts clas­sical steps together in a way you have never seen before. He’s try­ing to make it more inter­est­ing, rel­ev­ant and human. So it’s bal­let but it’s more real.

The invest­ment paid off: “A tri­umph of impas­sioned dan­cing and invent­ively chal­len­ging cho­reo­graphy,” said the Toronto Star.

We are try­ing to move the art form for­ward and you can only do that by try­ing new things. I’m bring­ing inter­est­ing people into our midst because you can’t attract and keep good dan­cers unless they are inter­ested in the rep­er­toire; you need to keep a com­pany pumped. And when I do some­thing I’m proud of I would like the rest of the world to know about it.

And it’s not only Rat­mansky. ’s Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land was an extremely suc­cess­ful col­lab­or­a­tion with the ; a col­lab­or­a­tion which will con­tinue next year with The Winter’s Tale by the same cre­at­ive team.

It’s good to bring in someone who looks at your com­pany with fresh eyes. It’s what Nureyev did for me. I was the young­est prin­cipal in the com­pany and the least exper­i­enced when he came to Toronto, and he did amaz­ing things for me by edu­cat­ing me. Now it’s my job to keep this com­pany motivated.


Note: the full art­icle con­tains com­ments by Rat­mansky, and Kain’s thoughts about co-productions.

Photo by Sian Richards

Romeo and Juliet by Alexei Rat­mansky - April 17 — 21, 2013 - Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London

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