"The Nutcracker" - the ballet test without conditions even for rehearsals
The next performance of the National Ballet of Kosovo is a double test. With Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" under the choreography of master Ilir Kerni, he intends to rise to another level, with a major production. But it contrasts with everyday reality: there are no conditions for evidence either. It has been moved to a private hall, since in the space that has been in use since last summer, there is no place even to give shape to a show of such a format
The National Ballet of Kosovo is preparing for one of the biggest projects at a time when it has not only been left without a home, but there are also no conditions for staging such a show with which it aims for another level. The state institution with Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker", one of the most popular and performed ballets, moves to a private hall on the outskirts of the capital. Space is also reserved for rehearsals.
For the Ballet troupe, it is an advantage that this time the rehearsal space is exactly a reflection of the scene for the premiere. "The Nutcracker" comes to Kosovo for the end-of-year holidays on December 16, an atmosphere that is also conveyed in the show.
The closure of the National Theater of Kosovo for renovation since July of last year led the performing arts institutions to improvisations with a hall and show. TKK and Ballet were given the Amphitheater in the Palace of Youth and Sports, but the facility of the national song and dance ensemble "Shota" became a place for BKK's rehearsals as well. He also transformed the shows he created
mainly in performances of contemporary formats adapting them with a smaller number of performers. "Time" with the choreography of Taulant Shehu and "Correr o Fado" with the Portuguese choreographer Daniel Cardoso have been the projects with which the Ballet has kept in touch with the audience.
The classic "Nutcracker" is the contrast to these contemporary shows. Unlike the latter, where the Ballet had to adjust the number of dancers in certain scenes of the performance, the upcoming project bypasses the limits. The troupe has been completed with dancers from Tirana and Sofia, and recently auditions were held for young and professional dancers.
The mosaic of scenes from the show "The Nutcracker" has started to take shape. The ensemble of dancers has been fully engaged, while those selected from the auditions are expected to join them. From the scenes in which it was worked, a harmonious spirit and very attractive play was observed. The choreography seems to be challenging and delicate, requiring precise movements.
When choreographer Ilir Kerni invites the dancers to perform certain pieces, some of them seem like a done deal. As it follows their playing, it invites them to follow the rhythm of the music, to submit to the feelings of the melodies. He often gets up from the chair where he sits in front of them and illustrates the correct movements. It demands perfection. Sometimes it brings the dancers' performance back to the starting point. And choreographer Kerni himself has made this clear.
"This show is either done properly, or it is not done," he said emphatically, in a conversation for TIME in the AMC hall on the Pristina-Mitrovica road, during rehearsal breaks.
According to the choreographer from Albania, who has collaborated with the National Ballet of Kosovo for other shows over the years, such as the ballets "Sylphida", "Diploma Ball" and "Killing Love", the space of the National Theater of Kosovo now houses temporary in the Amphitheater, it was cramped and in bad conditions.
"Obviously an opera and ballet theater will have to be built one day, I hope it will happen. However, this environment is very suitable for work. Quite different from the small hall he had in the Theater and with not very good conditions. In this regard, these conditions are very good", said Kerni, who, in staging the show with the BKK, worked in the Ballet Hall in the TKK building in Druk, awaiting the start of the renovation and restoration.
Although the show itself is so, it is made even more magnificent by accompanying it with music on the spot.
The Kosovo Philharmonic will join the Ballet, when it will accompany the two acts and three scenes of "The Nutcracker" with Tchaikovsky's music. The show, according to Kern, comes even more complete in this form.
"This project is really big, on a scale that includes the Kosovo Philharmonic for the first time, so we will have a full show and we can say without fear that the metropolis of Kosovo, Prishtina, will have the show that is from the performed over the Christmas period across Europe and beyond. I am very happy to be a part of this gigantic project, I would say, because it includes several companies: the Ballet, the Philharmonic, there is scenography, costumes and others", he said, while evaluating the premiere date of the show as historic for the Ballet institution. .
According to the director of the Ballet, Sinan Kajtazi, this cooperation of the two institutions "certainly gives an extraordinary value to this performance and will make this project even more magnificent".
"The Nutcracker" is one of the greatest performances of the world classical repertoire. That the show that is being prepared is in high demand is confirmed by the show's director, Kerni. According to him, the dancers are hardworking, disciplined and talented. He does not distinguish their work when it comes to leading roles.
There are less than four weeks of rehearsals left and the roles are still not completely defined. Dancers are performing for other roles as well. However, some of them are known to have been entrusted with the lives of Jeta Musolli, Fatmir Sman and Fisnik Sman.
The latter will play Herr Drosselmeyer, Klara's uncle, a role played by ballerina Jeta Musolli.
"My role is the role of Clara's uncle, although we have several roles that we are learning and then we will define. He is a kind of illusionist, a magician, who in a way is also the narrator of the play. All the time he is explaining the scenes to the audience. It is a very interesting and beautiful role for the audience", said the dancer Fisnik Smani during the rehearsal break.
That this show requires a large space is shown when in some scenes the dances include large steps, spins and dynamic play. The number of dancers as far as it is now known that the Ballet will work in the show and others in the future, is another matter.
The dancer Smani said that this time they have space to make the correct movements as on stage in front of the public.
"The conditions are much better. We have the space to just show it, to do the movements exactly as we should do them on stage. Then we had a very big change from the hall to the stage, now we are completely free. Except we think about our role and do it in the premiere and in the rerun", he said while adding that the good conditions affect the ease of the work process.
"The Nutcracker is one of the most beautiful ballets and is performed all over the world during the holidays. It is a ballet that requires a lot of responsibility, normally the space we have now has greatly facilitated our work to put it on stage. We have a lot of responsibility for the roles we take, for the show we will do. I believe that like all over the world, the public in Kosovo will have the opportunity to see 'The Nutcracker' for the first time", Smani said further.
The "1 October" hall was the Ballet's choice for the premiere of the show.
The director of the National Ballet of Kosovo, Sinan Kajtazi, said that they were informed that due to the renovations there, they had to think about another alternative.
"Initially we reserved the '1 Tetori' hall to show the ballet 'The Nutcracker', but recently we were informed by the management of the '1 Tetori' sports hall that due to the postponement of renovations in the hall until the end of December , we will be unable to use it for the 16th and 17th. Therefore we are forced to look for another alternative space, which will meet the needs of this big project. We considered that the AMC hall can offer the necessary conditions for the realization of 'The Nutcracker'", said director Kajtazi.
For ballerina Aulonë Nuhiu, moving to a bigger hall was more than necessary. According to her, "at least the aspect of the stage is one less thing".
"One of the main reasons we came to this facility is the space. It is known that dancers always need a big hall and a big stage. It is very good that we started here, to acclimatize to a bigger space, as it is a very big show and requires a lot of dancers. I think that we will also have the stage in these dimensions of this hall. It is very good for us that at least these months we have our own place where we can hold the rehearsals", she said.
In the show, the ballerina Nuhiu plays the role of Karla's friend and the Arab dancer who comes as a role in the second act.
"In this show, we are Karla's four friends, it is a classic show, I also play the role of Arab, she is one of the characters in the second act, together with my colleague Leonora. Two very good roles that we are all really enjoying and enjoying these rehearsals. We started quite early, so we still have time to prepare", said Nuhiu.
"The Nutcracker", apart from the conditions, has also challenged the institution in terms of the number of members of the ensemble. In addition to those invited, there is a need for other professional dancers and small ones. All this goes back to the long-standing initiative for the establishment of the ballet school promised by several governments. It has been more than seven years since the facility was promised and a decade since the submission of the request of the former director of the Ballet, the now deceased Ahmet Brahimaj. In April of this year, the Ballet took its own steps with the alarm that there are fewer and fewer young dancers. At that time, free ballet classes were organized led by professional dancers Jeta Musolli and Fatmir Smani.
The 1892 Nutcracker by Russian Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is set on Christmas night in Nuremberg, Germany. Decorations are placed there, it is celebrated, gifts are given, and on the other side are the mysterious figures. When the decorations are removed, only one toy remains: a carved wooden nut. Everything then develops around her. The toy is broken and fixed. It is supervised by Klara, who is passionate about the toy, and "conflicts" take place to protect or destroy it. "The Nutcracker" suite by the composer Tchaikovsky will be the second time that the Kosovo Philharmonic performs alongside the BKK. The orchestra also accompanied with music the performance "Halili and Hajrija" by Tish Dalia last year, when the half century of the National Ballet of Kosovo was marked.
The manager of the Kosovo Philharmonic, Dardan Selimaj, said that this cooperation encouraged them to continue with "The Nutcracker".
"Since it was a successful collaboration, we thought to continue it - but this time with a more ambitious production, the staging of the ballet 'Nutcracker' by Tchaikovsky. This is an important step for performing arts in Kosovo. We have chosen December and the dates on the eve of the end of the year holidays, a practice that is usually followed for staging this title in world capitals", said Selimaj.
"The Nutcracker" was first premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia. The play's original story was part of a collection of fairy tales written by German romantic writer ETA Hoffman, published in Berlin in 1816. French screenwriter Alexandre Dumas wrote a French version in 1844. Less than half a century later, Tchaykovsky made that narrative the foundation of a ballet first choreographed by French-Russian Marius Petipa. To this day, "The Nutcracker" is one of the most popular ballets in the world. With him, the National Ballet of Kosovo is doubly challenged for a major project without a home of its own, even for rehearsals.
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