St Petersburg Ballet Encounter

Location: Artscape Theatre Centre, Cape Town

Thank you to:  Berniece FriedmannKonstantin Tachkin (St Petersburg Ballet Theatre)

We use yoga primarily as our method of movement of expression and through this, have come to deeply respect other forms of movement in all their capacities.  Choreography is a beautiful way in which performers get to tell a story with their movements…to let the audience know how they’re feeling just in the way they are moving.
When we heard that the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre was coming to perform Swan Lake in Cape Town, we didn’t hesitate to make contact and arrange to meet with the cast and crew; what a gift it would be to watch them practice and perform.
We made contact with Artscape who connected us with Bernice Friedmann, and were surprisingly gifted with so many wonderful opportunities to encounter this performance and so much more.

After much communication, we were included in the invite for interviewing the Director of the SPBT, Konstantin Tachkin, a tour backstage, an opportunity to attend a rehearsal and gifted complementary tickets to attend the opening night of Swan Lake.  The plan of having us take the Corpse De Ballet through a yoga flow unfortunately didn’t come to fruition because of their extremely tight schedule, as we say, next time.

We arrived at Artscape in the morning of the first night’s performance for our backstage tour and interview with Konstantin.  While waiting around for everyone to arrive, we met Morgan Behr, a member of the media who turned out to be a wonderful friend. After talking for some time with Morgan, he suggested we go to the Good Food and Wine Show which was on at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, arranging some media passes for us.

We decided to take Natasha Minchenko with us on the interview and the performance, a friend who is from Russia, who would be our interpreter if need be.
Berniece arrived with a few others who were part of the ‘team’ and we went into the theatre and through to the stage to look at the set, which was spectacular.  They were still setting up, so there was a lot going on.
After getting permission from the technicians on set, we took the opportunity to flow a little bit on the main stage.  An experience we’re sure to remember as we looked out into the sea of seats (empty of course, but powerful nonetheless).   There’s nothing like striking some yoga poses on the stage with the ‘Swan Lake’ set as the backdrop.  Blessed.
It would seem we spread the yoga love, as after this, we spotted one of the technicians sitting in lotus and doing his own little flow.   One of the technicians invited us to head to the room where they keep all the costumes after the interview with Konstantin.
The interview was extremely relaxed and Konstantin seemed at ease and very honest in his responses.  His wife is prima ballerina, Irina Kolesnikova and they had just had their first daughter together.  It would turn out that she didn’t dance at the first performance because their daughter wasn’t well.
We tried to ease him into striking superhero, and learned that Konstantin has one pose, his; we love him for that.

After the interview we sneaked back to the costume room and were welcomed in and told about the costumes.  Magical to be in amongst all these intricately designed costumes, which are shipped in massive chests all around the world.

We returned the same night for Swan Lake and words really can’t explain the experience itself.  Magical, spectacular, powerful, majestic, perfection are words we could use, but really can’t do justice to the performance itself.  What amazing strength, flexibility, power, grace, poise and discipline these dancers have, inviting us into their world where we became engrossed in the story.
When you use movement in your daily life, you look at these dancers in complete disbelief knowing so well just how incredibly difficult what they’re doing really is; huge respect to these human beings.
We really did leave this night in awe.

We returned the following day to attend a rehearsal.  The energy completely different as they went through what we’re guessing is a standard daily practice.  They seemed to know the routine exactly.  Watching these bodies move in such ways again with such effortlessness, is awe inspiring.  We can only imagine the discipline and commitment that comes with such a job.

What an amazing experience the whole thing was and we look very forward to the SPBT returning to Cape Town and hopefully getting the opportunity to put them through a yoga practice.  We’re sure they can teach us a thing or two no doubt.

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