Sascha Radetsky: I like playing the bad guy sometimes, tapping into that inner evil that we all carry around
By Alice COLEMAN
Ballet lovers had been extremely excited of the arrival of Sascha Radetsky, the world class ballet dancer that was set to dance the role of Albrecht in Giselle at The State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet last week, on November 16 and 18. He danced with the Mongolian ballet troupe and it was the first ever exchange between America and Mongolia. In light of this, he agreed to meet with some of the Mongolian press to answer a few questions about his arrival and his performances. Here is what he had to say:
-When did you first hear about Mongolia?
-When I was a child I guess. I’ve studied history a lot, so I know the legend of Khan and his successors. I’m overwhelmed to be here and by everyone’s hospitality, the beauty of the countryside, the cold…I’m excited about this whole experience.
-Had you heard about the Mongolian ballet scene before this exchange?
-I trained for a year in Moscow, at the ballet school. There was a whole bunch of Mongolian dancers there. I’m not pandering here, but they were actually really amazing dancers, so I was aware Mongolia has some very high quality artists. I wasn’t sure what the State Academic Theatre would be like, but they sent me a video and it was quite interesting. G. Tsolmon is a beautiful dancer so it’s very easy to partner up with her, it’s been a pleasure. I might add that the orchestra is of a very high quality, possibly better than what we have back home.
-Can we discuss the dance you will be performing; Giselle? What are your thoughts on this particular piece?
-Giselle is one of my all-time favourite ballets; Albrecht is one of the quintessential male roles. It’s a journey, Albrecht is a young cad and he’s lived a lot in a very short amount of time. He’s felt forgiveness, he feels regret and loss, it’s very emotionally draining to perform the role, but it’s deeply satisfying as well. It’s a ballet that I’ve watched since I was a child and of course Albrecht is a role that I loved. It’s been a few years since I’ve done it, so I’m looking forward to revisiting it, and with such a large gap it’s interesting to see what I can bring to the role, with my own life experiences and how I can enrich this character.
-Giselle is one of your favourite ballets but what ballet do you feel represents you as a person when you are dancing?
-That’s a really hard question, there are more contemporary ballets that are particular favourites of mine, but as far as the conventional standard ballets it’s hard to say that one role mirrors my own life. I will say that I like getting to play different parts, I like playing the bad guy sometimes, tapping into that inner evil that we all carry around. But then it’s also nice to be the romantic lead. So overall I think I try to draw from different ballets. I would say there is a variety of different roles that in some respects mirror my own life, but there isn’t one piece in a whole that sum up who I am or what I do. There are some roles that really challenge you, those are the ones I enjoy, the ones where you can leave it all on stage and give it everything you have. Giselle is one of those I think.
-Your name sounds Russian, what is your nationality?
-It’s Ukrainian; it’s from my father’s side, my great grandparents emigrated from Ukraine many years ago, my mother’s side is a western, European mix and it can be traced back to America for around 300 years or so. My brother and sister have very American names; Sam and Jessica. The fact that I’m called Sascha has given me a lot of grief! It’s a woman’s name in the States, so having this name has toughened me up with all the crap I used to get as a child.
-Finally, what made you come to Mongolia?
-I saw it as a once in a lifetime thing, it’s not very often that Americans are invited to dance in Mongolia, so it seemed like an offer I couldn’t refuse, a once in a lifetime offer. I can learn about the history, the culture, I get to dance one of my favourite ballets, see some of the countryside. I would have been a total idiot not to come to Mongolia; a part of me doesn’t even understand the question! [Laughs] I also studied martial arts and I might get the chance to see some Mongolian wrestling tomorrow so that’s thrilling too!
There were two performances of Radetsky’s Giselle, we hope that you managed to get a chance to see them, if not, it sounds like the door is opening for international exchanges in the world of Mongolian ballet, so keep your eyes peeled!
It was opening night of Sascha Radetsky’s(American Ballet Theatre) Giselle, and many different faces graced the hallways of The State Academic, looking at information, clasping tickets and mingling amongst each other. You could hear the orchestra warming up as you looked for your seats.
The lights dimmed, the orchestra started, and as it did so the shadow of the conductor’s hands magnified, dancing across the walls, adding to an already magical atmosphere. The heavy red curtains slowly opened to reveal a simple yet beautiful set design. A small cottage was placed at the front of the stage and trees stood behind it. The backdrop conveyed a beautiful sky of pinks, oranges, gold, a merge of spring and autumn.
It wasn’t long before Sascha himself was on the stage, using the space beautifully. His posture was what you would expect of a professional dancer, disciplined and meticulous yet with obvious elegance. You could see the years of training in his legs and his movements. It would be an understatement to call him talented.
He was not the only remarkable dancer on the stage, the lead female dancer, G. Tsolmon was sensational. She matched his talent with ease. Grace is an obvious adjective to use when describing a ballet dancer, but that’s only because it sums it up so well. She was sophisticated and precise; the technicality of her dancing was inspiring. Together, they owned the stage.
The first half of the performance encompassed innocence, joy, new beginnings and hope. The whole ensemble danced with stunning precision, I was amazed at how a group of people could seem so like one. Their unity was simple yet effective. The second lead male role is also to be noted, he danced with just as much discipline as Sascha and though he was a heavier build, he seemed lighter. By the end of the first half, when Giselle realises the love of her life, Albrecht, is already married, the mood completely changes. The orchestra must be highly praised because every note sets the tone. The audience couldn’t help but be drawn in; the change of feeling was so sudden and emotional that the tension built up within you. By the time the curtain was drawn you’d gone through a whole range of emotions.
The second half of the story was very much a contrast. The back drop had changed to an eerie yet magical forest. Greens and blues dominated the stage; the lighting was a dim blue making everything dark and shadowy. Giselle comes back from the grave, her figure rises up from the stage, pale, dressed in a white dress she dances with such sadness you can’t take your eyes off her. She floats behind the stage, seeing her through the veil of the forest as the rest of the ensemble take the stage in equally haunting costume. The whole act had an ethereal quality, and there was an aching sadness as Giselle and Albrecht danced their last dance together.
Needless to say, there was a standing ovation.
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