Andrey Batalov: ‘My lessons take an unorthodox approach’
Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre’s playbill for the nearest future features The Swan Lake and several Nutcracker performances. The troupe’s soloists playing male characters in these shows will be training for their roles under the guidance of Andrey Batalov. The Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation joined our tutor team towards the end of last season. In this interview, he shares his opinions on danseurs’ must-have qualities, reveals how his rehearsals are run, and explains why he thinks Leonid Yacobson was a genius.
Andrey, in the ballet world, you are renowned as a virtuoso performer with a stunning dance technique. You have often been compared to Nijinsky, Baryshnikov, and Julio Bocca, who would refer himself as a dragon in battle. When you rehearse with your students, do you focus on the elements that you are particularly skilled in, or is your teaching scope wider?
A danseur must have a complex set of qualities, but the one I emphasise above all is endurance. In this respect, my lessons take a bit of an unorthodox approach. Generally, the most important aspects of male roles in ballet are high-quality leaps and pirouettes. But ballerinas do need to master this technique as well.
You might be in need of some endurance yourself: after all, you are combining your intensely packed work schedule with getting a tertiary degree in education at the Russian Ballet Academy...
Thankfully, I have plenty of endurance by nature, as a Taurus born in the Year of the Tiger. Challenges only make me stronger, and my motto is to never give up and keep moving forward, no matter the cost.
In terms of professional interests, you are a bit of a Swiss knife: both a teacher and head of the Andrey Batalov Classical Ballet Theatre. Do you stage your own productions?
My theatrical venture has temporarily shut down due to certain events in the country. And the pandemic messed up all my plans. However, back when the theatre was still active, I did try my hand at directorial work, adjusting some scenes in our shows to meet my preferences. But I don’t have any full-fledged productions in my portfolio so far.