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An Interview with Andrei Uvarov

by Cassandra

This week Andrei Uvarov, one of the Bolshoi Ballet's most outstanding male dancers, is appearing in London with Nina Ananiashvili in an eagerly awaited programme of new works at Sadler's Wells.

In January, Uvarov came to London to appear alongside his Bolshoi colleague, Anna Antonicheva, in the Russian New Year Gala at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. In a programme made up almost entirely of Russian works, they danced extracts from "Raymonda" and the Black Swan pas de deux from "Swan Lake." Before the Gala began, I had the opportunity of watching these very fine dancers rehearse -- every bit as spellbinding in practice as in performance, and afterwards Andrei was kind enough to spare me a little of his time to talk about his career.

I asked first about his background and whether he came from a theatrical family.

Although there were no ballet traditions in his family, Andrei loved to dance. So when his parents heard about the Moscow Choreographic School holding auditions for young boys, they went along to see if Andrei could be accepted. They were successful, and young Andrei embarked on his studies there to eventually become a member of the Bolshoi Ballet.

I next asked about memorable performances.

He replied that every performance is an important performance for him, but his performances in 1993 in London at the Albert Hall were of special significance as these were his first international opportunities. Since then he has gone on to dance with the Bolshoi pretty much worldwide.

Favourite roles?

"This is like asking a mother which is her favourite child." It's difficult for him to say which role is his favourite -- he now dances all the leading classical roles at the Bolshoi -- but on reflection, Siegfried and Don Quixote are possibly his favourite parts. Such widely different roles clearly indicate his versatility and range.

Andrei dances three times in London this year, first at the Russian New Year January concert, with Nina Ananiashviliís Moscow Dance Theatre this month and the Bolshoi Covent Garden season in the summer.
I asked for some background regarding the new ballets Nina A. will be bringing to London.

He will be partnering Nina in the ballet "Lea" by Alexei Ratmansky, the new Bolshoi director. He likes the part very much and finds the concept of the ballet very interesting. It is a ballet with a powerfully dramatic story and he gets "great pleasure" from dancing the role.

Is it the hope of the dancers at the Bolshoi that with Ratmansky as the new director there will be lots of new choreography?

Andrei is very optimistic about Ratmansky becoming director and believes he is planning to make many new ballets for the company. The dancers have great faith in him and are encouraged by the fact that he has danced in Copenhagen and Canada and hope that these western influences will be beneficial to the Bolshoi Company.

Society has changed so much in Russia in recent years: Do you find a difference in the audiences at the Bolshoi?

The Bolshoi is changing all the time, and a chief concern is that tickets there are now so expensive that they have become unaffordable for many Russian ballet lovers. What the dancers do is to get complimentary tickets in order help the ballet fans to get in. At the other end of the scale, rich people are now coming to the ballet too, and it is a positive thing that they keep coming back.

And do you think these rich people will become patrons of the arts?

In fact, these people do go on to become sponsors, and there is now a committee of sponsors at the theatre with this aspect becoming very developed

Edited by Lori Ibay

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