Local Dancers Perform at Stars of World Ballet for First Time in 20 Years

ASTANA – Leading Astana Opera soloists Madina Basbayeva and Tair Gatauov have returned home after performing at the Stars of World Ballet of the 21st Century gala concert in Paris at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on Sept. 20-22.

They performed two pas-de-deux, one from the famous ballet “La Fille Mal Gardee” to the music of Peter Ludwig Hertel and the other from “Flames of Paris” by Boris Asafiev. It was the first time in 20 years that dancers from Kazakhstan had participated in the Stars of World Ballet concert.

“We did not expect to be the first representatives from Asia,” said Basbayeva. “Artists from Europe participated in the gala concert; there were many soloists from America. Yuri Vetrov from the Bolshoi Theatre was the last [from our region] to participate in this concert, but that was a quarter of a century ago.”

“This year, the organisers of the gala concert decided to scale it so that representatives from each continent could perform in pairs. We were the only dancers from all over the former Soviet Union, and we represented Kazakhstan’s Astana Opera. Our names were written in the repertoire of Champs-Élysées a year before the performance,” Gatauov said.

The elite of France attended the first day of the festival, the performers said. After the show, viewers were able to speak with concert performers.

“People asked us about everything, evaluated our dance and admired our classical ballet clothes, because they had had enough of the ballet in the modern style. The Western audience hadn’t seen dancers in tutus for a long time,” Basbayeva said.

The Kazakh ballet dancers were the only participants to perform the classics in the first and second parts of the show.

“At the show, one pas-de-deux from the classical repertoire was performed by a dancing couple from San Francisco, Taras Domitro and Maria Kochetkova. We danced two pas-de-deux. Not everyone can do this—it requires a lot of experience. From the very beginning, we were prepared for the fact that it would be hard, but we found a common language with the audience. In the final part of the concert, each pair performed their signature trick. When we showed ours, the audience applauded for 20 minutes: they did not let us go,” Gatauov said.

Festivals like this provide great incentives and opportunities for experience and growth, the Kazakh performers said.

“When you look at the other dancers; for example, Yana Salenko [Shtats Opera, Berlin], Maria Kochetkova [San Francisco Ballet], there is a desire to try to dance in the neoclassic style. When you watch them, you realise you can learn the most successful movements from them. We were also watched with interest. People came up and said, ‘Of course, the classic is a classic.’ In France they rarely dance “Flames of Paris.” At the end of the performance we were approached by a man who said ‘I have seen ‘Flames of Paris’ many times, but I have never seen this kind of performance!’ He loved our performance madly,” Basbayeva said.

The project organisers were interested in Basbayeva and Gatauov and plan to create the same concert with Kazakhstan’s stars in Astana. Basbayeva received an offer to dance the role of Juliet in Paris in the National Opera of Bordeaux after the show.

“I will go, and I will represent Astana Opera there. For me, working with other theatres is always an experience, and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is to premiere here in December, but I will have danced it in Bordeaux in November already. The proposal came from the famous choreographer Charles Jude. To be honest, I still cannot believe it. I did not expect it, but I feel it’s my part and I can do it all,” she said.

Before their trip, the dancers rehearsed on Astana Opera’s stage, which has space for elevations and jumps. The capital’s new showpiece theatre was modelled on European standards.

“We are very fortunate that we have the opportunity to study with such masters as Tursynbek Nurkaliyev and Galia Buribayeva. I would like to express my gratitude for their hard work and careful attitude to all the dancers. My dream is that the whole world would know about the Kazakh ballet and our theatre, because it’s a treasure of Kazakhstan,” Gatauov said.