Eldar Aliev, Eldar, Aliev
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Youth Leaps on War Horses

The New York Times
Published: April 6, 2005

Indianapolis is lucky to have a resident dance company that not only performs the old Russian classical tidbits and their ilk but also does so with the affection, reverence and purity of Ballet Internationale, which made its New York City debut on Sunday afternoon at the Brooklyn Center at Brooklyn College. That kind of repertory and performing has been largely left up to drag ballet troupes of comparable heart and panache. But there was not a single pratfall or hairy-chested ballerina here, only committed, quietly exciting dancing.

Eldar Aliev, the former Kirov Ballet principal who has directed the Indianapolis company since 1994, has assembled a group of largely Russian-trained principals and soloists. But unlike many Russian guest dancers who come here, these are young and vibrant and at the start of their careers. With the added influence of Irina Kolpakova, the gifted Russian ballet coach and assistant director of the company, the Americans in the troupe may be getting an exceptional education in performing.

The afternoon's only disappointment was the oddly staccato leg work of many of the lead women. The men were more charismatic. One of the program's greatest revelations was Ogulcan Borova, who turned in a powerful performance in the razzle-dazzle war horse pas de deux "Diana and Actaeon," performed with a stylishly crisp Irina Komarenko. (How could we jaded balletomanes ever have been sick of these chestnuts? And how did Eldar Aliev get today's sophisticated young dancers to commit themselves so thoroughly to them?)

Mr. Borova was also an immensely touching, nuanced José in the stylized drama of Alberto Alonso's "Carmen." Another standout was Nourlan Abougaliev, so implacably evil as Zuniga in "Carmen" and possessed of such charming ballet manners and clarity in "Carnival in Venice," danced with Ms. Komarenko.

Chieko Oiwa and her soft skirt rippled effortlessly through "Le Corsaire," partnered by a prowling Alexei Tyukov, who danced the beefy Escamillo in "Carmen." Karen Scalzitti-Kennedy was not only surprisingly nuanced as the tough Carmen but also lyrical in the "Melody" adagio, performed with Mr. Tyukov. And a good deal of the charm of the "Carnival in Venice" trio came from the floppy-Pierrot virtuoso dancing of Alexander Alexandrov and Selahattin Erkan, performing with an insouciant Burcu Surmeli. May Ballet Internationale soon return.


BI opens season

Nuvo by Rita Kohn
Sep 15, 2004

A Thousand and One Nights, Ballet Internationale’s sumptuous season opener, started as bed-time tales well over 20 centuries ago. While these Oriental fantastical adventures have been sanitized over time for the nursery setting, originally they were meant for adult listening. Underline adult, in the current meaning of the word.

But don’t be afraid to bring your children to the Murat. They will thrill to the spectacle, music and dancing. Astute adults, on the other hand, will catch deeper layers. That is the genius of Eldar Aliev as a storyteller in the ancient tradition of refashioning the original to fit the time and needs of listeners, and in the process creating a new masterpiece with timeless qualities.

Eldar Aliev’s dramatic ballet unfolds in four sections. The first sets the stage for the tales, and the others retell three of the better-known stories. Also known as Tales from the Arabian Nights, this collection of exotic adventures and humanity’s emotional geography reportedly began as an oral cycle related by storytellers in India and were embraced, added to and polished by a host of other tellers in other lands.

Watch the progression of lifts. Observe the leaps and turns. Catch the body language, tilt of head, flutter of hands, calculated steps. There’s more than virtuoso dancing underway. Amirov’s music takes you to emotional planes above and beyond cognizance. Eldar Aliev’s choreography brings you into realms of understanding. The dancing, costumes, setting and lighting package the unity of self with others.

What a wonder-filled way to welcome a new season. A Thousand and One Nights, with music by Fikret Amirov and choreography by Eldar Aliev, will be presented Sept. 17, 8 p.m.; Sept. 18, 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sept. 19, 2 p.m. at the Murat Centre, 502 N. New Jersey St. Call 637-8979, ext. 231.


A Thousand and One Nights.(Clowes Memorial Hall, Indianapolis, Indiana)

From: Dance Magazine
Author: Greskovic, Robert

In 1910 Michel Fokine mined classic literature's Arabian Nights and came up with Scheherazade. That legendary one-act ballet reduced its literary inspiration to a single episode about harem women betraying their jealous protector and being slaughtered for their recklessness. Last year, Eldar Aliev, the ex-Kirov dancer who is now artistic director of indianapolis Ballet Theatre, turned to the same source that inspired Fokine.

A Thousand and One Nights, Eldar Aliev's two-act rendering, opens with a scene that follows the particulars of Fokine's ballet. Left on her own, Shakhriar's restless wife, Nurida, unleashes an orgy led by her favorite slave. Just as the free-for-all reaches its peak, the shah returns and, outraged, orders everyone slain. It's here, where Fokine's narrative climax occurs, that Eldar Aliev's ballet asserts its own point of view. Even as A Thousand and One Nights develops toward its satisfying conclusion, with three more Arabian tales along the way, Eldar Aliev focuses not on the face value of his narrative, but on its heart. His choreography stresses poetic evocation over dramatic enactment.

To be sure, no one could mistake Eldar Aliev's choreography for that of Fokine. Where the turn-of-the-century ballet innovator accentuated a certain expressive naturalism and built his narrative lines on character-acting pantomime, Eldar Aliev takes a more reductive, stylized route. A Thousand and One Nights owes much to the pantomime-free story ballets of Yuri Grigorovich, who dominated Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet in the former Soviet Union. Specifically, Aliev appears to have modeled the presentation of his Arabian tale on the way Grigorovich shaped a Persian myth in his 1961 Legend of Love. And though Simon Pastukh's unit set has its own "baubles, bangles, and beads" richness, it owes something to the schemes that Simon Virsaladze, Grigorovich's late artistic collaborator, designed for the soviet choreographer.

Like Grigorovich, Aliev eschews both pantomime and naturalistic gesture. His choreographic palette goes from what Soviet ballet technique classified as "big poses" to its impressively acrobatic lifts. Fikret Amirov's original score supports Aliev's broad strokes with a related musical range. it strikes the ear as variously reminiscent of Shostakovich and Prokofiev.

Still, ifs not in the big and bold moments - though many of these stand out with eye-catching theatrical flair - that A Thousand and One Nights reaches its most artful depth. It's in select moment when an essence of narrative displace an illustration of plot action. At the moment of slaughter, for instance, instead of henchmen brandishing scimitars, Aliev offers his "Cry of Woman" a white-clad sisterhood whose members act as both mourners and specters. (Of all Galina Solovieva's successfully fanciful costumes, these prove especially effective.)

The haunting presence of these women frames the indelible entrance of Scheherazade, the storytelling heroine who will win her life while winning her implacable shah's heart. Created for the irrepressible Tatiana Pali, who danced delightfully in all these performances, Scheherazade becomes a beacon of art and goodness. Pali's light touch and derring-do manner gave her, every moment a shimmering sweetness, even in this or that insecure lift.

Most of the ballet's other leading parts had alternate casts, and all performed effectively. Most eagerly watched, alternating in both the role of slave and shah, was former Bolshoi biggie Alexander Vetrov. Lanky and a touch overeager, he gave Indianapolis a fair sampling of potent Moscow panache. Former New York City Ballet dancer Erlends Zieminch, in the same two roles, partnered beautifully, but danced with a generosity unmatched by full control.

As Aladdin, Oleg Gorboulev showed impressive ballon and beguiling personal warmth. Sara Viale made a tremulous Enchanted Bird and a headstrong Nurida. Zuri Goldman made elegant and vivid every character he danced, and Elena Borisova did wonders with the gyrations of Ali Baba's wily wife.



BI returns from China tour

Nuvo by Rita Kohn
Feb 12, 2003

A huge banner depicting a sultry Carmen, placards of critiques, displays of photographs and the soft swish of embroidered silk dresses punctuated the buzz of conversation at Sunday"s official home-coming for Ballet Internationale. A daring, five-week tour of China behind them, BI"s dancers and production staff patiently answered questions, posed for photographs, and unabashedly stated that BI returned a changed company. Board members, supporters, ticket holders, public officials and BI administrative staff members who stayed in the U.S. basked in the joys of success at the invitation-only party at Clowes Pavilion at the Indianapolis Art Museum.
"It"s hard to express the emotions of walking to a subway in Beijing and seeing a poster of Ballet Internationale," said Dorothy Ilgen, executive director of the Indiana Arts Commission, who had to attend a rehearsal because no tickets were available for the regular performances. "The reaction was warm," explained board member Ron Block, who traveled to Beijing on his first trip to China. "The population is muted, polite, nice. That"s their manner. Performances were well-attended. You could see only a scattered empty seat here and there in the theater. "Classical ballet is currently finding enormous popularity in China," Block added. He described Chinese audiences as placing sports stars and artists on the same plane. The Beijing Times review of Jan. 22 stated, "It"s like a feast for Beijing ballet fans this week ... Ballet Internationale, the world-famous ballet company from America, brings two wonderful performances ..." The Beijing Stardaily Jan. 22 headline announced, "1001 Nights Presents Visual Feast." The opening paragraph stated, "When thinking of classical ballet, people are liable to think of Swan Lake, with its pure classical dance. But from Jan. 20-27, Ballet Internationale, from America, brought A Thousand & One Nights and Carmen to Beijing for the first time." "China has now seen that every member of Ballet Internationale is a master of their craft, and a true credit to classical ballet in America," stated Eldar Aliev, BI"s artistic director, while praising the company at Sunday"s party. "The significance of the China tour is immeasurable. Every time Ballet Internationale is presented with the opportunity to act as ambassadors of the arts, ambassadors of dance, ambassadors of classical ballet in America, we not only bring our artistry to the world, but we also bring our hopes and dreams Ö The cultural exchange that occurs transcends diplomacy, negotiation and tourism - a connection is made at the highest level, it is a connection of the human spirit. The more Ballet Internationale can tour, the more these connections can be made, and the closer our world will become." "It was scary," recalled board member Myra Selby, when the idea of a five-week tour was proposed over two years ago. "But we agreed, if we don"t do this, what are we all about? It gives us renewed vigor."


A New Firebird Takes Flight In Indianapolis

Murat Centre, Indianapolis, Indiana - Review Dance Magazine, Inc. by Nina Alovert
April, 1999

I INDIANAPOLIS--Eldar Aliev, the artistic director of Ballet Internationale of Indianapolis, has staged a new version of Stravinsky's Firebird, with scenery by Semon Pastukh. It will premiere on April 12 at the Murat Centre. The new production coincides with the company's celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary.

Choreographer Yuri Grigorovich was originally slated to create the work, but, owing to scheduling conflicts, the former Bolshoi Ballet artistic director bowed out. Eldar Aliev, who had fallen in love with the idea of the project, decided to choreograph the piece himself and to create a new libretto.

The Firebird, originally created by Michel Fokine for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1910, was based on Russian fairy tales. At the time, Stravinsky, who wrote the music, was an up-and-coming composer. In the course of the twentieth century, many notable choreographers have staged the ballet, including Fyodor Lopokov, Serge Lifar, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, Boris Eifman, Maurice Bejart, and John Taras. In Eldar Aliev's version, the Firebird is a Princess under a spell, which Ivan breaks by killing her captor, Kashey, with a magic sword.

Formerly a principal dancer with the Kirov Ballet (Maryinsky Theatre), Eldar Aliev has worked in the United States since 1992. In 1994 he became the artistic director of the Indianapolis company, which was founded by the late George Verdak. In a short time Eldar Aliev has strengthened the troupe by gathering talented soloists and establishing a serious and eclectic repertoire: A Thousand and One Nights and The Nutcracker, choreographed by Eldar Aliev; Bournonville's La Sylphide; An Evening of American Choreography; and The Creation of the World by Russian choreographers Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Y. Vasiliov.

Eldar Aliev

Eldar Aliev

Eldar Aliev

Eldar Aliev choreographer, Eldar, Aliev.
Eldar Aliev's Past Articles
Youth Leaps on Was Horses
BI opens season
BI returns from China tour
A New Firebird Takes Flight In Indianapolis
A Thousand and One Nights.
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Click on the links below to watch video excerpts

• A Thousand and One Nights
• Le Corsaire
• The Firebird
• The Nutcracker