"My dream is to bring here an Evening of American choreography that includes three absolutely amazing ballets of American choreographers from different eras. These ballets are George Balanchine’s ‘Serenade,’ Jerome Robbins’ ‘In the Night’ and the ballet by now-living choreographer Twyla Tharp ‘Push Comes to Shove,’ that we did last year with her participation. I think that it would be interesting to bring here and show how Russians dance American choreography, and I think it would be interesting to the Americans too," Fateev said.
The ballet’s acting chief said he would discuss the idea with the John F. Kennedy Center.
Mariinsky Ballet is currently in the US capital where it has seven scheduled performances as part of the US tour.
Warm Reception Amid Political Tensions
The relations between Moscow and Washington have been strained for the past few years, with the break-up of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty as the latest source of discord.
The Mariinsky Ballet has been warmly received by the US audience, with each of its performances ending with a long-standing ovation despite currently tense relations between Washington and Moscow, Fateev said.
"I think that the audience that comes to theatre reacts to what is happening on the stage very sincerely. A very good example of it was in New York when we showed the work of our young choreographer Alexander Sergeyev. The audience greatly reacted to the funny and touching moments and stood up at the end of the performance. I see that for ordinary people nothing changes,” Fateev said.
The performers met with the same reaction in Washington, he added.
"The third performance in a row ends with a standing ovation. The people in an audience stand up, applaud, react vividly to all the ups and downs in the play, laugh," the Mariinsky’s chief said.
Young students of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet also received a warm welcome.
"They dance mazurka very nicely, complement the ballet with a cute children's choreography presentation performed very professionally. These are very difficult dances and we insisted on bringing our children here from Russia. This is the first time we bring the children to the United States. Despite the difficulties in the relations, we were able to bring even children," Fateev said.
No Issues With Visas
Despite the tense US-Russian relations, Mariinsky dancers have not had any problems getting US visas, Fateev said. It has become more complicated to get a visa, though, after a US consulate in St. Petersburg shut down, he added.
"It became harder [to get visas] technically, now we need to go to Moscow to get visas and it takes away a whole day away from dancers," the director explained.
Before, he said, one could "come in the morning at 8-9 a,m. and at 10 a.m. you are free and able to work. It didn’t interfere with rehearsals. Now we have these technical difficulties, that’s all."
For this season, 120 performers came to Washington, while some 70-75 people more will come to California, Fateev said.
Constant Contacts Between Mariinsky, US Ballet
During the US tour, Fateev has been giving workshops both in New York and in Washington and is planning to give some more in California. The US-Russian ballet friendship goes even further, according to Fateev. American professional dancers have been able to receive training in Mariinsky, he said.
"I have a personal relationship with Kevin McKenzie, Director of American Ballet Theatre (ABT), and he asks me to accept one or two [per year] dancers in Mariinsky for a week to train, to work with our teachers. We choose the time, they arrive and they work with our teachers and upgrade their skills," Fateev said, adding that this was possible because of sponsors and their grants.
Many of the grant recipients choose the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, he added.
"Christine Shevchenko [a principal with ABT] will come again this November to advance her skills with our Ballet Mistress Margarita Kulik, Fateev said.
Calvin Royal, a soloist with ABT, has been to Mariinsky for training as well.
"We did a performance with him. Our Russian choreographer and Mariinsky dancer put up a performance in which Calvin took part as well as our ballet dancer Kristina Shapran. They danced in Petersburg and after that here in New York. Isabella Boylston often comes. She's one of the best dancers in ABT," Fateev said.
The visits go the other way around, too, he added.
"Xander [Parish] danced ‘Sylvia’ in ABT three years ago. Vladimir Shklyarov danced ‘Bayaderka’ (La Bayadere), ’Giselle’ at ABT for two seasons and Kimin Kim, our principal dancer, performed ‘Bayaderka’ with them two times, and in May he will have jubilee performance here — 40 years of ‘La Bayadere’ — staged by Natalia Makarova at Мetropolitan Opera for ABT. And she chose him to dance so I let him go because it’s a huge event," Fateev said.
He spoke of Mariinsky’s conductor, American-born Heine Gavriel, whose life story is an example of a fate where the United States and Russia intertwined both personally and professionally.
"He studied in Moscow Conservatory and fell in love with Russia so hard that decided to stay and he’s living in Saint Petersburg for 10 years now and he’s a resident conductor at the Mariinsky Theatre. He married a Georgian girl and they have a child. They live happily in St. Petersburg," Fateev said.
Mariinsky Ballet Invited to Perform in Washington Next 2 Seasons
Russia's renowned Mariinsky Ballet has already received an offer to return to Washington, DC in the next two seasons, Yuri Fateev said.
"We received an invitation to come next season and the season after. We already have the concrete dates and will coordinate them tomorrow as well as choose the repertoire,” the acting director said.
Mariinsky has delivered a number of classical performances on tour, so it might opt for modern ballet in the future, Fateev added.
For its 18th consecutive season at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Mariinsky Ballet brought its new production of “Paquita,” a story of a Spanish young woman stolen as a child by gypsies. The performance is accompanied by the orchestra of the Kennedy Center Opera House under Gavriel Heine.
On Thursday, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov attended the performance.
“’Paquita’ is an exciting story for all generations. It goes without saying that we are particularly proud that it was the stage production of the prominent Russian-French choreographer Marius Petipa performed by Saint Petersburg Imperial company that brought the "Paquita" ballet world fame,” Antonov said. “The glorious traditions of the Imperial Theater live on in the Mariinsky ballet company.”
Last week, Mariinsky Ballet performed Alexander Sergeyev's ballet “At the Wrong Time” at the festival Fall for Dance at the New York City Center. After Washington, Mariinsky Ballet will head to Costa Mesa for six performances of Ludwig Minkus' ballet “La Bayadere.” Afterwards, they will travel to Los Angeles to perform “Jewels.”
The Mariinsky Ballet's US tour will conclude with performances of “La Bayadere” at the Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley from 30 October to 3 November.