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An interview with Makhar Vaziev: Artistic Director, Kirov Ballet

by Cassandra

April 2005 -- Cardiff

Getting to talk to Makhar Vaziev isn’t that easy as he is clearly a very busy man and after two abortive attempts to speak to him, we finally met up in an interval during a Kirov Ballet performance in Cardiff last April, so the ensuing interview was of necessity, brief.  The company had just performed “Scheherazade” and I realized that the first time I had seen the Kirov in this ballet, Vaziev himself had danced the role of the Golden Slave.

C:  Do you miss dancing?

MV:  He laughs and shakes his head.  “I don’t know what to say”, then after a little more thought,  “when they’re dancing well I miss dancing, when watching”.  Then, as if the thought surprises him: “yes, I miss it sometimes”.

Do you come from a theatrical family?

Vaziev finds this question even funnier than my first, in fact he laughs so much that I imagine his family must be pretty much like my own,“ First in family!!!”

What do you consider your greatest achievement since becoming director of the Kirov?

“I think to give an evaluation of myself is odd.  Others must evaluate my achievements.  What makes me happier is achieving a goal already in the past – a new prospective.  When I quit work I will know my achievements.  I’m not being playful about that, it’s an odd thing to evaluate”.

The Kirov repertoire now includes works by William Forsythe;  It seems to many that the bastion of classicism is being invaded...

“It’s great that we have this alongside what is our artistic heritage and I’m happy to have Forsythe works in the company.  It’s very interesting in performing Forsythe and in no way is Forsythe invading our bastion but using our ballet which is developing fast.  Forsythe is a choreographer whose works are amazing to perform because he offers completely different forms.  He offers new ways of development for dancers and in the end he wouldn’t introduce works without a new language and choreography.  I look at my dancers and find they give great support to this kind of dancing.  I can talk about it for a long time; I think he’s one of the outstanding choreographers of the world.  Forsythe says you either have a ballet or you don’t."

I ask about the planned move to Helsinki due to the closure for renovation of the Kirov Theatre.

“There will be difficulties for the moment.  We will use the Alexandrova Theatre in Helsinki and venues in St Petersburg, it will look unusual to be away from the Maryinsky, but it won’t interrupt our work and repertoire.  We will be very flexible”.

I ask about the Kirov policy of casting very young dancers in major roles.

“One mustn’t be afraid of giving challenges to young dancers.  Faith is given to them according to their abilities.  The more you give them to better themselves the more they produce at dance.  The life of a dancer is very short. We must effectively use dancers and I am very fond of extreme options.  You should make a dancer perform to the max and offer trust to the dancers.  There must be a balance; the balance is fragile and important”.

My final question concerns a personal wish of mine: for the Kirov to dance an Ashton Ballet, preferably that beautiful work based on a Russian play, “A Month in the Country”.

“It’s remarkable with Guillem - it’s a remarkable work.  I like Ashton’s “Cinderella” and “La Fille Mal Gardee” too; “Ondine” is also a wonderful ballet. Yes, I would like to acquire this ballet for the Kirov” (he means Month in the Country)."

After the interview I watch him stride purposefully along the backstage corridors with his lieutenants in attendance barking out instructions before taking his place in the auditorium where he watches every move intently, seeming to analyze every last detail of the performance

Makhar Vaziev comes across as a very dynamic character but at the same time thoughtful and humorous.  There are a lot of challenges ahead for his company but come what may, Mr. Vaziev will face them with equilibrium.


Edited by Staff.

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