Kuwait’s National Council for Cultural Arts and Letters and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation Embassy of the Russian Federation in Kuwait present the Igor Moiseyev Ballet by artistic director Elena Shcherbakova. The event will take place at the Abdulhusain Abdduridha Theatre in Salmiya on November 24th and 25th at 7 pm. Kuwait Times interviewed Shcherbakov to learn more about the event. Excerpts from the interview.
Kuwait Times: You are a legendary and an internationally acclaimed dance company that was established in 1943. Could you please explain the secret of your success and the role you played in the development of the company?
Elena Scherbakova: The State Academic Ensemble of Popular Dance was founded by the great Russian choreographer Igor Moiseyev back in 1937. At that time it was the first and the only ensemble of popular dance in the entire world.
Given the success of the first five years of its existence, Moiseyev came up with the initiative of opening a special ballet school for training talented youth. This initiative turned out to be a smart strategic move as 95 percent of the Igor Moiseyev ballet team has always been made up of its school graduates, including myself by the way.
In our days, the Igor Moiseyev Ballet has become a household name in Russia. Being an artistic director of the ensemble, my goal is to treasure and preserve the traditions of Moiseyev and ensure that the bar set by the maestro is held up high.
KT: This is your first time in Kuwait. Why Kuwait and what are your expectations from the upcoming event?
Scherbakova: The word “Kuwait” itself sounds mysterious and attractive to Russians. So when we received a phone call from the Russian embassy in Kuwait with the proposal to organize a performance here under the auspices of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters, it did not take us long to make up our minds and accept the invitation.
We have always proceeded from the belief that the more countries we cover, the more experience we get and the more nations we make familiar with the Russian unique culture.
We really hail the support provided by the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters along with the Russian Ministry of Culture in cooperation with the Russian Embassy in Kuwait that helped to fulfill our plans.
In light of the recent visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to Russia and his meeting with Vladimir Putin, we consider the upcoming show in Kuwait as a next step forward in developing friendly ties between our two countries.
KT: What program the Igor Moiseyev Ballet will show in Kuwait?
Scherbakova: We will be holding two shows in Kuwait – Nov 24 and Nov 25. both at the Salmiya Theatre, which is also known as the Abdulhusain Abdulridha Theatre.
We have prepared a special program for the occasion, which is titled “The Classics of Igor Moiseyev”. The program is made up of a bunch of terrific dances. I am not going to disclose the whole of it, but for sure the Kuwaiti audience will be much impressed by the traditional Russian dance “Summer”, the dance of Bessarabian gypsies, the Greek “Sirtaki”, the dance of Argentinian cowboys “Gaucho” and the fascinating Russian marine dance “Yablochko”.
I do not want to go further into details as I would rather suggest people come and see it.
KT: How many national dances do you currently have in your repertoire? And how do you get your inspiration for choreography of traditional dances from various countries?
Scherbakova: Our repertoire is the personal choreographic works of Moiseyev. He was a real genius. He used to travel a lot around the world with his ballet. Whichever country he went to, he would spot the specifics of its people, dress and traditions, in particular the specifics of its basic dance moves. On his return back home, he would develop these basic moves into a comprehensive choreographic work.
As a matter of fact, Moiseyev would only stage a dance of the nation that would really impress him by its energy and passion. For instance, the French or the British folk dance would have never drawn his attention because of its slowness in comparison to the Mexican, Argentinean or even Arabian ones.
For his great success and the achievements in world choreography, Moiseyev was awarded with more than thirty orders and medals of different countries.
KT: How many hours do your dance company members train daily?
Scherbakova: We start at ten in the morning with the so-called one-hour “classical choreography” warm-up. Then we proceed to the studio and carry on for another four hours. After that we have a break and meet again in the studio at seven in the evening for another two-hour practice. I really make our dancers push hard as it is the only way to be a professional and to achieve something valuable in one’s career.
The same system existed at the time when Moiseyev was the director of the ballet. Nothing has changed since he passed away in 2007.
KT: Where have you toured with the dance company this year? And where are you going after Kuwait?
Scherbakova: We try to tour a lot. Actually the international tour records of our ensemble boasts 65 countries including experiences in Great Britain, France and USA in the late 1950s when the “Cold War” was in full swing.
This year we have toured a lot around Russia. We also had a great success at Expo Milano in September, had five full-houses in Poland and enjoyed a hearty welcome in Jordan in October. After Kuwait, we will be heading to Latvia and will end this year with performances in Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
KT: What is your personal goal as the director of such a legendary ensemble?
Scherbakova: It is to do my best for this legend to live forever. To ensure that the new generations of our dancers well realize the importance and the uniqueness of the Igor Moiseyev Ballet and maintain the high level of its professionalism.
And in a short term – it is to come back to Kuwait with a new program. I really hope to see Kuwait Times readers on Nov 24-25 at the Salmiya Theatre. No one will regret.