We speak to Reneta Yuliy, Sofia Ballet general manager, about the production
Swan Lake is one of the classic ballets still regularly performed today. Why do you think it has captivated audiences for so many years? It’s a very hard ballet to get right. There are lots of technical challenges. It’s considered to be one of the greatest ballets of all time, and it remains better known that a lot of the classical ballets because it hypnotises the audience. The people still watch and love it today, it still has the same effect as the day it was written. Everyone should see it at least once in their lifetime. Do you remember the first time you saw it? Not exactly, although when I was young I went to the opera all the time, I watched all the productions, and I remember Swan Lake being one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. What made it special was the combination of the dancing and the music: it creates a very special atmosphere. It’s like magic – there’s no other word for it.
How do you think it compares to Tchaikovsky’s other works? It’s a little better, I think. All three of his ballets [The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake] are brilliant, real masterpieces, but Swan Lake is the most dramatic. It brings out a real ferocity in the performers, which everybody in the world can understand. What are you trying to achieve with this production? It’s a very theatrical performance, a little different from the ‘real’ Swan Lake. We asked our dancers to make it more relevant to them and it helps put the emotion back in. We want to take the audience on a journey. There are two different interpretations of the story: one ends in death, and in the other there is magical triumph – we’ve gone for the second one, the happy one.
How did the company’s performance in Dubai go down last year? Last year we brought a Grand Ballet Gala to Dubai – a smaller production with nine soloists – but it was very well received. The shows sold out, and the audience was very interested in what they were watching. I really like Dubai. I’ve been here four times in four years and every time I come back, the city has changed.
How did you become involved in ballet? I started as an opera singer, but I decided some years ago to start a ballet company: Sofia Ballet is the first classical ballet company in Bulgaria. It’s exciting. When the performance is good, the audience is lost, and the whole world is good.
So what will you bring us next time? That’s tricky – I’d suggest The Nutcracker. I think that would go down well in Dubai.