Prima ballerina Daria Klimentová talks to Georgina Butler about pirates, perfect partners and pointe shoes ahead of English National Ballet’s return to Milton Keynes Theatre.
The latest thrilling production from English National Ballet sails into the new city next week and principal dancer Daria Klimentová promises audiences adventure, excitement and impressive dancing in a ballet she grew up admiring.
Following a sell-out season last year, the UK’s leading touring ballet company returns to Milton Keynes Theatre with the premiere of Le Corsaire (The Pirate) on Thursday 17 October.
ENB is the first UK company to perform the complete work (under the guidance of artistic director and principal dancer Tamara Rojo) and Daria is keen to stress that this is a swashbuckling ballet for everyone.
Having joined ENB in 1996, Daria was awarded the title of Best Female Dancer of the Year for 2012 by the Dance Critics Circle last year and the talented prima ballerina is also a highly respected dance teacher/director and photographer.
She said: “I have seen changes at ENB over the years, of course, and with Tamara joining as artistic director comes exciting opportunities for new repertoire.
“The aim has always been, and still is, to bring ballet to everyone.
“Classical ballets - story ballets - will always be popular but it is very important to bring different stories to the public.”
Le Corsaire is based on the poem The Corsair written by Lord Byron and the tale transports the audience from Turkish bazaars to hidden caves, with plenty of love, betrayal, disguise and conspiracy along the way.
More than 60 dancers will be accompanied by a live symphony orchestra for ENB’s reimagining of the 19th Century classic, which culminates with the spectacle of a shipwreck.
It is an epic story of love between Conrad, a dashing pirate, and Medora, the beautiful harem girl who is rescued from slavery by her sword-wielding lover.
Daria has danced all the mainstream major classical roles but until now she could only dream of dancing Medora.
“I am thrilled that we are bringing Le Corsaire to towns and cities in the UK.
“Tamara wanted to bring something different and this ballet is still very classical – which I personally like best – but it is just not very well known.
“There are only so many times you can see Sleeping Beauty – I grew up watching Le Corsaire in Prague and have always loved it.
“The role of Medora is something I didn’t think I would be lucky enough to do at this point in my career – I am very privileged to be able to dance it with ENB.
“Rehearsals have allowed me to discover Medora – she is very flirtatious and the audience will see that as soon as she is onstage.
“She has lots of variations and is quite classical – which is very me, I like Swan Lake and the other ‘tutu-ballets’ – but she offers excitement as she flirts with all the men, even though her heart is for Conrad.”
Unfortunately, Daria is recovering from an injury and will not be dancing the role in Milton Keynes but her present dance partner Vadim Muntagirov will take to the stage as Conrad in the evening performance on Saturday 19 October.
The pas de deux from Le Corsaire was made famous by Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev and the ballet showcases some of the most bravura male dancing in the repertoire.
Daria explains that for ENB’s take on the ballet (based on the version by American Ballet Theatre) extra choreography has been added for the female dancers.
“Normally the classics are very female focused but Le Corsaire gives the men lots of variations – there are lots of somersaults and plenty of flying through the air.”
While the male members of the company will demonstrate their athleticism with virtuoso turns, leaps and jumps, the female dancers will be on their toes, feet encased in pointe shoes, performing seemingly impossible feats of ballet technique.
Daria wears Russian shoes and, although she orders ten pairs a month, she will generally get through five pairs each month, depending on the intensity of rehearsals.
She said: “The audience will enjoy the selection of variations for the male dancers, but we still have all the classical dancing en pointe and the beautiful pas de deux.
“Vadim is my Nureyev and I am inspired by him and the other dancers around me every day.
“Le Corsaire is the perfect ballet to experience all the beauty of classical technique and see a different side to ballet – our beautiful girls and hunky men bring the harem and pirate crew to life.”
The magical world of pirates and sumptuous Turkish palaces will be translated to the stage with sets designed by legendary Hollywood film designer Bob Ringwood and a pirate ship will also grace the stage.
Daria adds: “I still have not seen the ship as it is being built just in time for the first show in Milton Keynes but it will be a spectacular sight and the shipwreck is going to be very dramatic.
“All the family will enjoy the show.
“Everyone, but especially children - both boys and girls - will find the production exciting, as pirates fight onstage and the music and movement tells the story.
“No one should be scared to watch something new, all you need to know is that it is about a handsome pirate and his love for his girl – just come and watch and enjoy.”
ENB’s Le Corsaire runs at Milton Keynes Theatre from 17 – 19 October, call 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes to book.