Russian ballerina's refugee camp visit to inspire new 'Carmen'

Fri Apr 22, 2016 11:52am EDT
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By Miran Jelenek

TABANOVCE, Macedonia (Reuters) - The plight of thousands of migrants stranded in the Balkans has helped inspire Russian prima ballerina Irina Kolesnikova to prepare for a new ballet version of "Carmen" - this one set in a refugee camp.

Kolesnikova, more normally seen dancing with the St Petersburg Ballet, is working with charity Oxfam to draw attention to unaccompanied children who are among the wave of refugees that has swept into Europe over the past few years, many of them fleeing conflict zones.

She visited the Tabanovce refugee camp close to Macedonia's border with Serbia on Wednesday, meeting the hundreds of migrants trapped there by Balkan border closures.

Her experiences will influence the new dance interpretation of Bizet's opera Carmen, a tragic tale of jealously and love between a soldier and a gypsy woman.

"Her name was Carmen", choreographed by Russian Andrei Kuznetsov-Vecheslov, is set in a r camp "on the fringes of Europe". It will be premiered by Kolesnikova and the St. Petersburg Ballet Theater at the London Coliseum in August before taking on a world tour.

Part of the proceeds from London ticket sales will go to help Oxfam's work.

"We had the idea to make a ballet, 'Carmen', and Andrei had the idea that the plot should be set in a refugee camp ... We decided to visit a real refugee camp and see with our own eyes how it all works and talk to people and listen to their stories," Kolesnikova told reporters in Belgrade where she watched dancers rehearse at the National Theater the next day.

She said she felt "a state of shock" when she visited the camp, where migrants gathered around her.   Continued...

Russian ballet star Irina Kolesnikova (C) surrounded by ballet dancers poses for a picture inside the National Theatre in Belgrade, Serbia, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica