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From the archive: Dancing on his tip-top toes

From the archive: Dancing on his tip-top toes

Posted on September 12, 2018

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo broke all field workplace data at the Peacock Theatre throughout its season in March this yr [2006]. Jonathan Grey talks to the firm’s prima ballerina Robert Carter (aka Olga Supphozova) as the firm prepares for a return go to on September 19. Pictures by Zoran Jelenic

JG: The Trocks are again in London in September. Does the firm take pleasure in dancing in the UK, and the way totally different are British audiences from these, say, in the US or Japan?

RC: We like it right here in London. Not solely is the metropolis a cushty place for many of us due to its familiarity, there’s the added plus of not having a language barrier. The audiences listed here are fantastic. The good factor is that they not solely come to take pleasure in the comedy, they arrive to understand good dancing as a result of they’re educated about dance. I consider that their expertise is enhanced slightly extra, and maybe the jokes which are humorous with most audiences, are understood and appreciated much more. I feel all of our audiences are totally different due to the nature of their particular person cultures and societies. So it’s protected to say that the majority of our audiences take pleasure in our present to the utmost, nevertheless they could present it. The sweetness is that as an organization who travels the globe, we’re capable of seize each viewers and convey them into our world.

JG: The corporate has an enormous London fan-base, and your feminine alter ego Olga Supphozova has a devoted following. How does it really feel to have a troublesome ballet critic like Clement Crisp lavish your dancing with reward?

RC: The assessment Clement Crisp wrote about me was one that also makes me tingle somewhat bit. I used to be utterly stunned. It was the greatest assessment that anybody might obtain from certainly one of the prime dance critics ever. For somebody of his popularity to write down such complimentary issues has been a part of the purpose I nonetheless problem myself to go additional.

JG: The Trocks carried out at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow lately – what was that like? Have been the Russian audiences enthusiastic or mystified? I additionally perceive that Maya Plisetskaya is a fan of the firm?

RC: For me, in the context of what I do with the Trocks, dancing on the Bolshoi stage was a serious spotlight amongst the many I’ve had up to now. I feel in the starting lots of the Russian audiences have been fairly mystified, however that shortly turned to enthusiasm as soon as the phrase unfold. For lots of them, I feel we introduced again a way of nostalgia with our exaggerated fashion and eccentric characters. I don’t assume they thought they might take pleasure in our firm as a lot as they did, so all in all it was an excellent expertise. Maya Plisetskaya is a fan. Once we carried out in a gala programme in Palermo, she was the honoured dancer. It was such a thrill to see her, not to mention dance on the similar stage. I keep in mind as I did the fouettés in the coda of Paquita, she was cheering me on from the wings. Considered one of the most memorable moments I’ll ever have, it was unimaginable.

JG: What struck me about the current Ballets Russes movie was how precisely the Trocks impersonate the extraordinary dance personalities of these previous Russian corporations. If you joined the Trocks, did you invent the dancing identify and character for Olga, or have been they prepared created characters?

RC: As with everybody who joins the Trocks, you’re given the names. There was an Olga Supphozova earlier than me, and in accordance with him his character was very totally different. Considered one of the biggest issues about this firm is the freedom we’re given. So despite the fact that we’re given the names once we be a part of, the character build-up is totally our personal.

JG: The Trocks are well-known for spoofing the onstage/offstage rivalry between ballerinas. Is there any rivalry amongst the dancers in the firm, or are you all nice buddies?

RC: An enormous a part of the success of the firm has been the proven fact that we’re like an enormous household. A few of us are nearer than others, however for the most half all of us get alongside. The survival of the present relies upon on it. Everybody in the firm is given the alternative to excel and be recognised, so if there’s any rivalry it is just with the particular person, not the different dancers. At the very least that’s what I feel.

JG: You have been born in Charleston, South Carolina. How did you turn out to be thinking about ballet, and have been your loved ones supportive if you began taking dance courses?

RC: My mom had 9 brothers and sisters and grew up on a farm in upstate South Carolina. She didn’t have the luxurious of being uncovered to a lot tradition like the individuals of my era. With my sisters and myself she pledged that we might have entry to every little thing she didn’t. So she turned very lively in exposing my siblings and me to all types of issues regarding the arts. I used to be in a youngsters’s performing group at an arts pageant once I caught the consideration of my first dance instructor, Robert Ivey, and he advised my mom he noticed nice promise in my skills. He requested if she can be inquisitive about letting him train me some dance. My mom, like many who had solely ever seen ballet on TV, didn’t know what to assume, however she needed me to attempt. She advised me that if I didn’t prefer it, we might discover one thing else. I went for my top notch, and I couldn’t wait to return. Ballet has been my life ever since. So I assume you may say that my household have been very supportive.

JG: I’ve learn that you simply began to bop on pointe if you have been solely ten years previous. How did that occur, and have been you frightened about the injury you may need inflicted on your ft at such a younger age?

RC: I started coaching in ballet once I was eight years previous. From the starting I used to be fascinated with pointe footwear, and so I requested the women to provide me their previous ones as an alternative of throwing them away. I might put on the ones that fitted and imitate what the women have been doing. Someday my dance instructor caught me and I assumed I might be in hassle, however I wasn’t. As an alternative, he made me take pointe courses and inspired me increasingly. I feel I used to be too younger to fret about any injury I may need been doing, and apart from, I don’t assume he would have pushed me if it weren’t a sensible factor to do.

JG: You clearly have an excellent facility for dancing on pointe, and your pirouettes and fouettés are beautiful. Do you discover the technical points of dancing as a ballerina troublesome or straightforward?

RC: The actual problem in doing the ballerina roles is the sprucing and refining. That isn’t to say they aren’t troublesome in any respect, however as a result of I’m a person doing issues usually carried out by a lady, the exhausting half isn’t in the present of power however the management and look of effortlessness.

JG: The Trocks’ classical repertoire is predicated on the genuine 19th century choreography. Who levels these productions for the firm, and do you get any particular person teaching for the ballerina roles that you simply dance?

RC: Most of the ballets in our repertoire come from the unique choreography, so we set all the things the method it was meant after which we add the jokes. We work with plenty of individuals so far as teaching is worried. Elena Kunikova has labored with us an amazing deal and set lots of the fantastic items we carry out. I’ve grasped an amazing deal from her on the Russian fashion, which is all about what we do.

JG: One factor I’ve all the time observed about your dancing is how a lot you relish the technical challenges of the nice feminine classical roles – you by no means look scared! As a person, do you discover the ballerina roles straightforward to interpret, and are any of them specific favourites? Is there a task you want to carry out however haven’t but?

RC: By no means. Ladies are naturally complicated, and to evoke female qualities with out making them look pressured and unnatural is the problem. In our firm, I’ve achieved most of the roles I needed to do. The one which has but to return my method can be Giselle. I want to dance this position as a result of there’s nothing in it like the others I’ve carried out. I’ve all the time been very snug in fast, spirited items [Paquita, Don Quixote, Stars and Stripes Forever] however Giselle is completely totally different. I’m able to work in the slower, earthier roles.

JG: Do you have got any favorite roles if you seem as your different alter ego, the male dancer Yuri Smirnov?

RC: Humorous it is best to ask. He’s not seen fairly often, however I’ve my favourites for him: Le Corsaire and Basilio in Don Quixote. Each every now and then I relish the probability to work with this character. Doing the male roles is sweet for preserving my male method sharp and giving my ft a relaxation. Typically, even in any case this time, the pointe work can get to me.

JG: The Trocks are virtually continuously touring. Do you ever get time to chill out at residence or have a break from dancing?

RC: We get sufficient time in between excursions to chill out at house. The humorous factor is that even once I’m not working, and never with the boys, my ideas all the time are. The good factor is that even on tour we’re nonetheless capable of do our personal factor, and if we like, we will do issues collectively. However I like my alone time and take full benefit of it as a lot as attainable.

JG: Are you able to inform me about your dancing profession earlier than you joined the Trocks? You danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem at one stage, didn’t you?

RC: I had a brief run earlier than becoming a member of the Trocks in the typical aspect of ballet. I briefly danced for the Bay Ballet Theatre of Tampa, Florida, earlier than it folded. Because it was my first skilled job, I used to be slightly depressed to have to return residence to South Carolina, however after I’d returned, Dance Theatre of Harlem [DTH] got here to city to carry out at the Spoleto Pageant, and I organized an audition. Shortly after accepting a scholarship to the faculty, I joined the DTH ensemble. I used to be there for a few yr, however I wasn’t comfortable and determined to search for different issues.

JG: You joined the Trocks in 1995. How did you come to audition for the firm? Was it an accident, or one thing you intentionally got down to do? Are you cheerful to maintain on “Trockin’”, or do you typically consider shifting on?

RC: After I left DTH, I used to be working in a lodge part-time, taking courses and in search of auditions once I bumped into a man who had been at DTH with me. We started discussing auditions and he informed me he can be auditioning for the Trocks, upon which I virtually died! I begged him for the contact info, and spoke to Tory Dobrin the following week. I assume all the things occurs for a cause as a result of I had seen the firm once I was younger, and I knew that this was the firm for me. After that first day, I’ve been right here ever since. After ten years I’m nonetheless comfortable to maintain on Trockin’. I assume you possibly can say I’m spoiled in a great way. I couldn’t be happier anyplace else.

JG: I’d like to see Olga dance the Rose Adagio from The Sleeping Magnificence, and I feel that Gamzatti’s wedding ceremony scene from La Bayadère is ripe for some Trock remedy. Any probability of both of this stuff occurring?

RC: At one time the firm discovered Gamzatti’s wedding ceremony, and costumes have been made, however I don’t know what occurred. As for the Rose Adagio, I might love to bop it however it hasn’t come up for dialogue. Who is aware of? We’ll need to see.

JG: What does the future maintain for Olga and in addition for Robert Carter?

RC: Nicely Olga continues to be dancing and never able to put the pointe footwear down but. As for Robert Carter, I plan on dancing till the day comes when widespread sense tells me it’s time to cease. Even then, I plan on serving to to maintain dance alive and thriving.

This interview was initially revealed in Dancing Occasions in September 2006.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is on tour in the UK till November three, 2018. Click on right here for tour particulars and additional info.



Jonathan Grey

Jonathan Grey is editor of Dancing Occasions. He studied at The Royal Ballet Faculty, Leicester Polytechnic, and Wimbledon Faculty of Artwork the place he graduated with a BA Hons in Theatre Design. For 16 years he was a member of the curatorial division of the Theatre Museum, London, aiding on quite a few dance-related exhibitions, and serving to with the recreation of unique designs for a lot of The Royal Ballet’s productions together with Danses concertantes, Daphnis and Chloë, and The Sleeping Magnificence. He has additionally contributed to the Monetary Occasions, written programme articles for The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, and is co-author of the ebook Unleashing Britain: Theatre will get actual 1955-64, revealed in 2005.