Her Name is Carmen starring Irina Kolesnikova will be coming to the London Coliseum 23rd, 25-28th August. For tickets please go to www.eno.org/whats-on. A pound from every ticket sold will support Oxfam’s work in the Balkans.
5 Questions to Irina Kolesnikova on her new work – Her Name was Carmen
St Petersburg Ballet Theatre and their lead ballerina Irina Kolesnikova return to the London Coliseum this summer and with a brand new ballet to boot – we wanted to know more…
Her Name was Carmen sounds interesting – updating a timeless story to pick up on the tragedy of refugees in Europe. Where did the idea come from, how long have you been working on it and where will the ballet be premiered?
The idea came to me some months ago watching all the tragic stories of the refugee crisis on television. I was thinking what could I do to help these people? It is the worst global crisis of our time. I wanted to show my support for the refugees through my ballet. We started to work on the piece last October and full rehearsals started last month. It’s an absolutely fascinating version of the classical story. Inspired by Prospero Merimee’s original story, this production is set in a refugee camp and the love triangle is Carmen, Jose, a camp guard, and Garcia, a smuggler. The ballet is in two parts, and the music, played by the English National Opera Orchestra, is the Bizet. The premiere is in August at the London Coliseum.
By way of research I believe Oxfam arranged for you and choreographer Andrei Kuznetzov-Vecheslov to visit some refugee camps in the Balkans. What did you find?
We visited two refugee camps in the Balkans, and those visits have shaped the production. The most significant problems – homeless children and the separation of families – are featured in the performance. I have heard a lot of personal stories from many refugees; one little girl put a plastic ring on my finger – she wanted me to tell her story. I didn’t take it off for a long time, and I will be wearing it during all performances in London. Andrei played an important role in steering our ballet through its initial stages. We are now working with a team of creative people to develop choreography that truly captures the power and urgency of the story.
St Petersburg Ballet Theatre is mainly known for the classics of ballet and commissioning a new work is a big departure. What should we expect and will the movement be more contemporary or strictly classical?
I am a classical dancer and, stylistically, Carmen will be classical. Saying that, for any dancer a new work is challenging and takes you out of your comfort zone. We are taking something familiar and timeless – the form, the story – and bringing it into contact with a setting and a context that is immediate and raw. I hope this production will touch the audience in ways they wouldn’t expect.
Apart from being an international star dancer, you are also a mum. How do you balance it all and does Vasilina travel with you?
Our daughter, Vasilina, joins us very often when we go away for an extended period of time. We took her with us when we toured in Singapore, Australia and South Africa – she was a baby at the time. I love being a mother and believe that having children should not be an obstacle to having a career. Vasilina inspires me. I work harder because of her.
What’s next after the London season and what other roles are you really interested in dancing?
After the London Coliseum season we be going to Scotland to dance Swan Lake at the Edinburgh Playhouse, 1-3 September 2016). Later there will be tours to Singapore, Macau, Australia, New Zealand, Paris and then we’ll be back in the UK again.
There are many roles that I want to dance, dramatic roles that can speak to the audience, as well as teach me something new about myself. Off the top of my head, these include Manon, Anna Karenina and Tatiana.
Her Name is Carmen starring Irina Kolesnikova will be coming to the London Coliseum 23rd, 25-28th August. For tickets please go to www.eno.org/whats-on. A pound from every ticket sold will support Oxfam’s work in the Balkans. www.irinakolesnikova.com, www.spbt.ru