Ballet star Duato ditches native Spain for Russia

Thu Aug 5, 2010 5:22am EDT
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By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya

MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - The first foreigner to be appointed chief choreographer of a leading Russian ballet troupe since the Bolshevik revolution has vowed to overturn the Soviet-era constraints of dance and bring modernity to the Russian stage.

Nacho Duato will leave his native Spain in January 2011 for the Mikhailovsky Theater, the second largest in Russia's artistic capital St Petersburg, in a bid to bring modern dance to the traditional home of Swan Lake.

Duato said Russia had dragged old repertoires onto the 21st century stage and is in dire need of an overhaul.

"They have never really danced," the 53-year-old said of Russians in an interview with Reuters by telephone.

"They (Mikhailovsky) have the best dancers in the world, a lot of money, a lot of publicity, a lot of soul, but they need renovation, and they are very conscious of that," Duato said, adding that he signed a five-year contract with the near 200-year-old Mikhailovsky, with an option of extending it.

He said he made the decision to prematurely end his contract with Spain's National Dance Company after 20 years when he became unhappy with poor government support for dance.

"I needed to leave Spain," Duato said. "I don't have much support, I've been directing with very little money," he told Reuters, saying that Spain's refusal to give him his own theater gave him the final push to leave.

He added that Mikhailovsky would be his last company.   Continued...