Moscow City Ballet will be here in the New Year with two classic productions, Romeo and Juliet and The Nutcracker. Ahead of their arrival we asked Ludmila Nerubashenko, Artistic Director about the ballets and Christmas.
How do you celebrate Christmas and New Year in Russia?
Christmas in Russia is celebrated on 7 January, later in the year than in the UK, because the Russian Orthodox Church calendar is different. New Year is more important than Christmas in Russia; however, they are both family occasions. We have a Christmas tree, but we call it the New Year fir tree. We eat and drink far too much but why not...?!
Clara loves the Nutcracker doll she receives as a gift. Did you have a favourite doll or toy as a child?
A Winnie the Pooh bear! Russians love Winnie the Pooh.
The Nutcracker is performed by every major ballet company and has had many different productions and interpretations since it was first performed over 100 years ago. Why do you think it’s so popular and what is special about Moscow City Ballet’s production?
The Nutcracker is perfect at Christmas and New Year because it is about festive times; happy family times. But it’s also a fairy tale with many different fairy tale characters and so is very accessible for children. However, our production is special because it appeals to people of all ages.
Which is your favourite character in The Nutcracker?
Drosselmeyer – Clara’s godfather who brings her the gift of the Nutcracker. He is like a puppet master who seems to control everything but eventually is left lonely and alone. Tchaikovsky's music expresses this very well.
Both The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet have beautiful scores by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. How important is the music and what does it add to the experience of the ballet?
The music is everything. As dancers we are nothing without the music. We are fortunate to have such wonderful Russian composers and we owe it to them and the audience to express their and our inner feelings. So it is important we do not simply dance the steps but try to interpret the music as sensitively as we can.
You’ve been coming to Chichester at New Year for many years. Why do you like performing here? Is Chichester’s thrust stage, with the audience on three sides, a particular challenge for the dancers?
Chichester is our English home. Viktor Smirnov-Golovanov, our late founder and artistic inspiration, had roots here and he worked out the best way for us to dance in what is an unusual setting for ballet. We have a longer season here than in any other city on our tours. Of course the open stage is a challenge, but we love challenges and love the intimacy we have with the audience in Chichester.
Moscow City Ballet will perform in the Festival Theatre from 3-8 January. Find out more.