The main event is ballet master Slava Samodurov himself, who has discovered a seemingly mandatory but actually quite rare gift: the ability to think dancing and in dance, to create both very simple and very sophisticated dance ensembles.

Ekran i scena




Viachesav Samodurov in his own words

It’s generally hard to be a human being.
Basically, the path to quality is through the head, and that’s a pretty difficult labyrinth.
Of course, a Mask is a responsibility. Getting a reward is nice and important. But tomorrow, works begins again, and you don’t have any time already to think about a Golden Mask.
For a while, it was seen as embarrassing to choreograph in the classical manner. Everything had to be shifted upwards or sideways. By now, though, there’s been a re-evaluation: the vertical is back, and you have to know how to play with it. You can destroy it, restore balance, and bring it back again. I’m going through a process right now of rediscovering the language of classical dance, with the desire to put it back together again, the way you do with a Rubik’s cube.
Things don’t have to be either good or bad, they can just be different. With our programming, we try to educate the audience so that they can see the variety.
I want to take plot to an extreme level of simplicity, so that, on the one hand, it’s more straightforward, and on the other, more universal. Because the plot is the skeleton, but what’s more important is the choreographic structure.
Abstract ballets can be very varied – there are good ones and bad ones. But if we’re talking about the good ones, then it’s a very concentrated form of art.
For me, music is the most important thing in ballet, and dance is a way of interacting with the melodies.
In my view, dance and acting are two communicating vessels, and there should be a free-flowing form from one to the other. Our mode of thinking now is short-form and eclectic. It seems to me that eclecticism is the contemporary form of thought. Eclecticism doesn’t bother me in the slightest, and I often consciously employ it – the most important thing is to understand what for.
What’s most important is to keep moving forward, for theatre as a whole and for dancers. You come to the rehearsal room with an idea and a direction for development. In any event, the first movement for impulse is always planned. I used to turn up more often with a prepared text, but now I’m more interested in the search right there in the rehearsal room. It’s more unpredictable and more dependent on the dancers – they have to react faster to the ideas proposed to them. Sometimes, the result even surprises you yourself – on occasion, negatively. Still, there’s more life in all of this.

Slava Samodurov

Upon graduation from the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet (class of Gennadiy Selyutskiy), Slava Samodurov made a brilliant start to his career at the Mariinsky Theatre, where he quickly became a principal dancer. Wanting to try his hand at a different style of choreography, he joined the Dutch National Ballet in 2000, and three years later transferred to the Royal Ballet in London, also reaching the highest rung of the ballet hierarchy in both companies.

For Samodurov the choreographer, 2010 proved to be a stellar year: in London, his ballet Trip Trac was included in the programme of productions by young choreographers, while his St. Petersburg debut – Sonata in a Minor Key at the Mikhailovskiy Theatre – was immediately nominated for a Golden Mask.

In 2011, Samodurov took over Ural Ballet in Ekaterinburg, and a new chapter began both in the history of the theatre, which has since undergone radical transformation, and in the biography of the choreographer, who chose the responsibility of leading a large company over a career as a freelance artist. The critics agree that, thanks to Samodurov, Ural Ballet has become, “a centre for the production of original ideas in contemporary choreography. […] Serendipitously combining an understanding of beauty as a fragile category with a sense of proportion instilled by the classics,” (Natalya Kuryumova), Samodurov’s creative signature is easily recognized. The public value his productions for their impetuous and impassioned manner, their fusion of expressive, fevered presentation of the dance text and restrained “English-style” acting.

Having taken charge of the company, Samodurov was interested not only in educating his dancers and audience, but also in raising a new generation of choreographers. On his initiative, the Dance Platform programme in support of young choreographers was launched in Ekaterinburg in 2012. Every year, candidates from Russia and a dozen other countries eagerly apply to be accepted in the programme. In the years since it was launched, the project has revealed a number of artists who are destined to make a real mark on the ballet world in the near future.

Besides premieres at his home theatre, Samodurov’s list of ballet productions includes Trip Trac to music by Shostakovich (workshop for young choreographers, Covent Garden, 2010), Sonata in a Minor Key to music by Scarlatti (Mikhailovskiy Theatre, 2010), H20 (Second Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art, 2012), Henze’s Ondine (Bolshoi Theatre, 2016), Stravinsky’s The Fairy’s Kiss (Perm Ballet, 2017), and the one-act ballet Ultima Thule to music by Vladimir Rannev as part of the production Sevagin / Samodurov / Pimonov (Perm Ballet, 2021).

Two of Slava Samodurov’s works – Salieri Variations (2014) and Romeo and Juliette (2016) – have been awarded the Golden Mask National Theatre Prize in the Best Ballet or Show category. He has also won three Golden Masks for Best Choreography, for his ballets Salieri Variations (2014), Tsvetodelica (2015), and The Order of the King (2019). Then, in 2020, Samodurov won the Russian Government Award for Paquita at Ural Opera Ballet.

In 2018, Slava Samodurov was a member of the jury awarding the Dance Open St. Petersburg International Ballet Prize.

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