Ballet choreography for spectacular Prince Vytautas

Christmas tradition of recognising those making worthy contribution with ‘For Spiritual Revival’ awards includes art workers, musicians and artists

Christmas tradition of recognising those making worthy contribution with ‘For Spiritual Revival’ awards includes art workers, musicians and artists: all bringing international recognition to the country, while spreading humane ideas, educating and teaching

Prince Vytautas ballet on Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre stage
Prince Vytautas ballet on Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre stage
Photo: VITALY GIL


On the eve of the holiday, various greetings arrived, including those for the National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre: the main musical company. Earning one of five honorary awards for its staging of Vytautas, by composer Vyacheslav Kuznetsov, the troupe’s ballet was the first national work in the last 15 years. Only Belarusian masters worked on the staging, from the first note to the last line of libretto. The latter is the work of playwright Alexey Dudarev.

In the late 1990s, Dudarev’s dramatic staging of Prince Vytautas, directed by Valery Raevsky, was successfully received at the Yanka Kupala Theatre. Accordingly, Dudarev wished to do something a little different this time.
We chatted immediately after the announcement of those named as laureates ‘For Spiritual Revival’ award.
We congratulate you on your high award!

Thank you. It’s delightful for me to know that the performance was so well received by audiences and by the Head of State. My contribution to the staging has been minimal, so we should first congratulate the Bolshoi Theatre for its wonderful work in staging the national performance. For me, ballet is something quite different, since my whole career has centred around traditional drama.

Which came first: the lyrics, libretto, plot or choreography?

The idea for the ballet, based on my play, belongs to Vladimir Rylatko: the First Deputy Director General of the Bolshoi Theatre. He is also a good musician. It’s difficult to say which aspect came first: perhaps the history of the country and the figure of Prince Vytautas. This ballet is about our roots, and that period of history when the Grand Duchy of Lithuania reached its peak of power. I’m keen to underline that we did not aspire to historical objectivity, rather creating a choreographic legend.

The co-author of the ballet’s libretto, Vladimir Rylatko, has worked with Alexey Dudarev previously, in 1997, for the first staging of Prince Vytautas. Several years ago, Mr. Rylatko suggested staging the production as a ballet. Dudarev tells us:

It was natural for me to be interested, as our theatre company had long spoken about staging a musical-drama embodying our national spirit and ideas. We had already performed ‘Rogneda’, ‘Grey Legend’ and ‘King Stakh’s Wild Hunt’ so it was time for ‘Vytautas’. The period between our two stagings had been one of learning: not only about new scenic culture, but about ourselves. To participate in the spiritual revival of the country is the dream of any artist or creator. The award is the reward of every member of our company, without exception. I hope that the performance has inspired national consciousness, and interest in the history of our native Belarus.

MT’S REFERENCE:

At the end of November, Vytautas was highly praised by the jury at the third Republican Contest of Theatrical Art: the National Theatrical Award. The staging won in three nominations: ‘Best Ballet Performance’, ‘Best Acting in a Ballet’ (won by Lyudmila Khitrova) and ‘Best Choreography in a Ballet’ (won by Yuri Troyan).

By Yulia Leonova
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