The Russians are coming.
Hot on the heels of last month’s spectacular performance of “The Nutcracker” by Moscow Ballet, Onstage Ogden is bringing another Russian ballet company to town.
This time, it’s Russian National Ballet, which will perform “Carmen” and “Romeo & Juliet” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, in the Browning Center’s Austad Auditorium at Weber State University. Tickets are $10 to $30, available at onstageogden.org or by calling Onstage Ogden at 801-399-9214.
In an email interview with the Standard-Examiner, Russian National Ballet deputy artistic director and choreographer Alexander Daev said this is his dance troupe’s first trip to Ogden.
“As far as I remember, we performed in Utah, but we will be in your city for the first time,” Daev wrote.
Daev said the Ogden performance will kick off the ballet company’s 2020 American tour. That tour will continue through the end of March, hitting performing arts venues from California to New York — and everywhere in between.
That the audience here will be seeing “Carmen” and “Romeo & Juliet” was the decision of Onstage Ogden, according to Daev. Russian National Ballet has a number of ballets in its repertoire — including “Swan Lake,” “Carmen,” “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Don Quixote” “Romeo & Juliet” and “Giselle” — but it allows local promoters to choose the works that most interest them.
“Representatives of theaters in different cities themselves choose the performances that they would like to show the audience,” Daev wrote. “Ogden chose ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ ‘Carmen.’ I think this is a good choice and the audience will be happy!”
Daev said both ballets are “very dynamic,” featuring “beautiful music” and “an interesting choreography and storyline.” And while the two ballets may be two completely different stories, Daev says they do have one thing in common.
“Both performances are about love,” he explained. “‘Romeo and Juliet’ about pure and tragic youthful love, and ‘Carmen’ is about passion, hatred and of course love that ends tragically.”
“Romeo & Juliet” is based on the William Shakespeare tragedy by the same name, with music by Tchaikovsky and original choreography by Elena Radchenko and Daev. The set, costumes and libretto are by Elena and Sergey Radchenko.
“Carmen” is a one-act ballet created in 1967 by Cuban choreographer Alberto Alonso and premiered at the Bolshoi Theater. It features music by Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin, based on Georges Bizet’s music from the opera.
“Carmen” was initially banned by the Soviet hierarchy, which called the ballet “disrespectful” to the opera.
Writes Daev: “At the same time, the extremely passionate and not alien to eroticism character of the production aroused rejection by the Soviet leadership, and in the USSR Alonso’s ballet was censored.”
Russian National Ballet is directed by legendary Bolshoi principal dancer Elena Radchenko. The company has a tradition of performing major Russian ballet works while developing new dancers throughout that country.
The ballet troupe has been touring the United States for almost 20 years and has been well-received by audiences here, according to Daev.
“This means that art is outside of politics,” he wrote, “and the American people love Russian culture just as the Russian people love American culture and your beautiful country.”