Dance the Night Away

Dance the Night Away

The Dance Open festival offers ballet lovers plenty of reasons to rejoice with a weatlth of world-class performers.

Published: April 17, 2013 (Issue # 1755)

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Edward Clug’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ kicks off the seventh Dance Open festival.

The seventh Dance Open International Ballet Festival kicks off April 19 at the Alexandrinsky Theater with the world premiere of a fresh, new choreographic rendition of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” by the Slovenia-based ballet master Edward Clug of the Maribor Ballet.

The opening night’s program will also include the St. Petersburg premiere of Yury Posokhov’s ballet “Classical Symphony” and the Russian premiere of “Spazio-Tempo,” a ballet originally created by Jacopo Godani for the Semperoper Ballett Dresden.

The evening of one-act ballets will be repeated April 20.

April 21 will see a gala performance held at the Oktyabrsky Concert Hall titled “The History of Russian Ballet,” at which St. Petersburg ballet stars will join international classical dance celebrities.

“By rolling back the decades, we will enable our audiences to witness the history of the Russian ballet come to life,” said Yekaterina Galanova, the director of the festival. “Stunning ballet scenes from the works of Marius Petipa, Michel Fokine, Yury Grigorovich and Alexei Ratmansky will all receive a fresh and dazzling treatment from the festival’s participants.”

Taking part in the gala will be the Mariinsky Theater’s Ulyana Lopatkina, Igor Kolb and Anastasia Kolegova, as well as star performers from the New York City Ballet, Staatsoper Berlin, the American Ballet Theater, Paris Opera Ballet and the Mikhailovsky Theater.

No stranger to the ballet stage herself, Galanova, who is also the festival’s founder, once performed at the Mariinsky Theater, where she danced in the corps de ballet for ten years before moving on to start the International Dance Open festival.

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The Maribor Ballet mixes both classical and contemporary ballet styles.

“Being in the corps de ballet is really taxing work — not so much in the physical sense, because indeed, soloists work very hard too — but because it is repetitive,” Galanova explained. “If you want to be creative, the corps becomes depressing. After a couple of years you know everything there is to learn in the classic repertoire, and then it becomes routine — unless you are promoted to a soloist’s position.”

At one point, the ballerina realized she could take no more of it. “Once I caught myself thinking about cooking dinner while I was on stage,” she recalled. “And then I felt that I was at a critical stage. ‘That’s it; I must go,’ I thought. And I left.”

Galanova’s first years as the director of her own festival were almost sleepless and indeed far more exhausting than dancing in the corps, but her creativity and inspiration, which had been hampered for nearly a decade, offered a substantial enough reward.

“I was voracious, unstoppable and euphoric about finally being able to have my own say,” Galanova recalled. “It probably felt like being liberated from jail.”

Her endeavors have paid off. The list of dancers participating in the Dance Open festival is astounding, featuring some of the biggest names on the international ballet scene.

The festival will conclude with a gala performance at the Oktyabrsky Concert Hall on April 22. The program, whish blends classical masterpieces and groundbreaking new works, will feature a whole array of Russian premieres.

The British choreographer David Dawson will present a duet from his ballet “A Sweet Spell of Oblivion,” performed by Jurgita Dronina of the Dutch National Ballet and Stephen McRae of London’s Royal Ballet.

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Dresden’s Semperoper Ballet.

The Spanish dance troupe “Entredos Ballet Español” will perform a fiery fusion of Spanish folk dances and flamenco, while Daniel Ulbricht of the New York City Ballet will join Mikhail Lobukhin and Anna Tikhomirova of the Bolshoi Theater in the distinctive “Walpurgis Night” dance scene from Charles Gounod’s opera “Faust”.

Later in the evening on April 22, the Russian Ethnography Museum will play host to the Fourth International Dance Open Awards ceremony.

The prestigious Grand Prix will be awarded by a jury headed by the legendary Russian ballerina Natalya Makarova, who now lives in the U.S. The jury will also award a number of prizes for expressiveness, technical virtuosity and the best duo.

The Dance Open International Ballet Festival will run from March 19-22

at the Alexandrinsky Theater and Oktyarbsky Concert Hall. For more information and schedules, visit

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