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An Interview with Nikolai Kabaniaev
-- A Preview of the 2003 US Tour by the Kirov Ballet

September, 2003

(Page 4 of 4)

Do you have any observations on the differences between American ballet companies and Russian ballet companies?

Well I think you have to look at the repertoire to make any comparison. NYCB does mostly Balanchine and they're the best at it. After seeing them do Balanchine, it's very hard to see anyone else do it. It's the same thing with the Kirov Ballet. For me, it's very difficult to see another company in "Swan Lake" or "Sleeping Beauty" or "Les Sylphides" because those ballets were conceived there and created for the Kirov.

I think all big ballet companies have their own unique face, and even in the US you won't find two similar companies. You can kind of compare PNB and NYCB, but not really.

But the Kirov is very different. You can't compare it to American companies, you have to compare it to the rest of the world. And then within Russia companies are very different too. The Bolshoi and the Kirov are very different in style. But if I generalize a little bit to say what is different between Russian and American companies, I think repertoire is the answer. In this country you have bigger variety of repertoire and different choreography and new works. In Russia, to this day, the majority of the repertoire at the Kirov is taken up by classical ballet, since that's what the audience wants to see and what foreigners who come to visit Russia want to see as well.

When I was last there two years ago, obtaining tickets to see "La Bayadere" or "Swan Lake" was virtually impossible. To see a new work you could get tickets very easily, I guess because traditionally when people think about the Kirov, they think about what makes the Kirov ballet famous -- and that's their classical repertoire.

How do you think the dancers within the company feel about the repertoire?

The dancers in the company are striving for new works, new styles and to dance as many different things as they can. I know quite a few who have guested with Royal Ballet, NYCB, and ABT, like Igor Zelensky. He guests abroad a lot. So there's definitely this strife from Russians to learn more, to learn different styles and to dance different works.

And I think the reason why the Kirov does the majority of the classical ballets is because that is what they're known for, that's what the public wants to see and most of all, when it comes to classical ballet, they're the best.

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Edited by Lori Ibay

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