A great event for our ballet company
After a long, long-lasting effort of the choreographer Resmi Malko, finally in Tirana came Mrs. Nanette Glushak. After Malko contacted the Balanchine Trust with the invitation of the Albanian National Opera and Ballet Theater they sent Mrs Glushak to teach our company dancers.
Opusalb magazine had the chance to meet her and had a warm conversation.
For our readers, we would like to mention that Mrs Nanette Glushak, of Russian origin, was born in America. She has been dancing with the New York City Ballet wen she was 16 years old, chosen by George Balanchine. In 1971, She joined American Ballet Theatre and became First Soloist 2 years later. She has danced with Mihail Baryshnikov, (chosen by himself), with Nureyev and many others.
In 1987, Ms. Glushak joined George Balanchine’s Trust and since then she has been teaching and working Balanchine ballets with different companies: the Dutch National Ballet, Royal English Ballet, Swedish Royal Ballet, the Royal Ballet of Flanders, the Bavarian National Ballet, the Ballet of Stuttgart, La Scala, State Ballet of Berlin, Ballet Marinsky, Rome Opera Ballet, National Ballet of Turkey, Ballet of Tokyo, and many more.
That’s enough to understand the importance of her arrival in our country and especially for our Ballet Company.
Our conversation with her was of a rare special one like meeting with great people. It was as honest, as a cultured communication of beautiful ideas, being expressed in the unique universal language of the art, of her art.
Find following our conversation:
Opusalb – Mrs. Nanette, what about the working conditions of our Ballet Company
how did you find it?
Nanette Glushak– The conditions this company works are not what they should be, although I know that your Theater is being under construction. I have heard that at the time of choreographer Agron Aliaj the conditions and the ballet level was much better. I talked to the Opera Director and i said: You want Balanchine, but you have no ballet shoes, we are in 2019 even if you have a company or not, you need decent salaries, shoes for the dancers, and halls to dance. If you want a classically based company, the pointe shoes must be provided by the Opera House.
Nanette goes on speaking on the importance of the idea and on the demand for our company to connect with the Trust Balanchine, which is not only the most distinguished contemporary ballet repertoire (which actually links the modern ballet with classical legacy), but also the most important organization of the most well-known choreographers in America, Europe and beyond. Balanchine is actually one of the most advanced ballet school today.
Opusalb – To us, you voice is very important to put the attention of politics toward the art in general and to ballet in particular.
Nanette Glushak – I’m trying. Your company needs a company director, so a person in charge of this responsibility for the ballet, a good and a real teacher, that’s the first thing to do. It’s like in music, you know. My mother and grandfather were famous violinists and teachers. I know that teaching is the essence of a good artist. My family is Russian, but there is no one left anymore. They are all dead. So I know what it is. However, I tell you that I am in love with most of them, women especially. All women are good and have learned very fast but I think some of the men are unacceptable. Speaking with sympathy for some of the ballerina Nanette expressed her love and passion for their work. By her words, she began to paint the portrait of Marlon Dino who came to work with her, and also of Eno Peçi and some other ballet dancers all over Europe, coming from our ballet school.
Opusalb What about your goal to be in contact with our Company?
Nanette Glushak – I came here (from Balanchine Trust) to teach this Company and it was my idea that after training, we’ll do a little thing from Balanchine. I taught a few small sections of Balanchine ballets. We will make the video. I’ve seen pretty much change compared to two weeks ago especially to the women in style, they are faster. We will take this video and will send to New York City Ballet and they are who decide. I think there have been cases that I have been strict and have dismissed from the Company all who did not respond to the requirements”. Is it a kind of example of non compromising with the art that this wise and kind lady was suggesting to us?
Opusalb– I think the Opera Theater has done a great job by bringing you here.
Nanette Glushak – Well, I am very patient and I really teach. There is something that cannot be learned that is musicality. That it is one of the most difficult things to be learned. And to think Music was one of the most important elements of Balanchine, William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián, etc. What happens in the classroom is definitely the reflection of what will happen on stage. These two weeks have been very intense for the Company. Then Nanette talks about Balanchine. “Balanchine was Russian, he came from Russia and what he did was that he made everything faster, bigger and longer, that’s what he did. Balanchine said that the last phrase of music is already the beginning of the next phrase.So instead of doing like this … do it like that … And so on…the musicality is the first to be taught at the ballet school.
Opusalb: Do you think these are elements are missing from the subject or are absent from the school?
Nanette Glushak – Now I think so, the school is the base, what I learned from Marlon who is a great dancer. There are many Albanian men in the big companies in Europe which are very good. There is another Albanian man who i do not remember the name in Monaco as well.
Opusalb – Do you know the Albanian dancer and choreographer Eno Peçi and in your opinion what is the direction of the ballet today?
Nanette Glushak – Yes, of course I know Eno. Eno is a wonderful dancer and artist.
Training needs to be evolved what’s been going on years ago, is not happening anymore. You cannot do the Russian ballet of the 50’s. Even in Mariinsky, they have evolved tremendously in recent years as we know they have a great and respectful tradition.
And then Nanette goes on telling about her experiences: “I went to Astana, in Kazakhstan two years ago. They had never done Balanchine, Forsythe; they maybe even didn’t know them at all, except that from You Tube the mentality was old.
After a couple of weeks, they made Balanchine and they sent a video, they made” Serenade “(one of the famous works of Balanchine with the music of Tchaikovsky) and look, there it worked. I taught there for 2 weeks, as I did here in Tirana, and the result was amazing. They are now performing Balanchine ballets.
Opusalb: There would of great interest for our readers to find out about great dancers with whom you danced, such as Balanchine, Nureyev and others.
Nanette Glushak – They were great. They are incomparable, they were also great choreographs and there were even the greatest dancers of the time, I danced with them, and they were all different from each other.
Opusalb – What about Nureyev, was the one the greatest, or whom do you prefer most?
Nanette Glushak – Nureyev is another story. When i was very young, i was still a student, the Royal Company came with” La Corsaire “show. We had never seen something like that. Later there were others who surpassed him, and he danced too long. He should have stopped earlier. It was hard to work with him. If you were intelligent it was ok to him, but if he saw you were a bit slow, he was rough. I’m telling you a story. We had a premiere of Raymonda and when the curtain was closed and we were still like this, standing he came from where he was and said, “you were terrible you assholes!”
Opusalb: What about Baryshnikov?
Nanette Glushak – He was great. They were both great, he first came to us, and we had never seen preparation like that and he had such a charisma. When he asked me what i thought, I said, “We have to work.” He was too Russian. Balanchine told “I Want Jazz”. They were two diamonds. And after that Baryshnikov did everything, he jazz, Broadway, movies. He was awesome. It was bad that he did not pass it on. I think he did not teach because he could do everything.I also danced with Erik Bruhn, I learned a lot from him. He was a great dancer, we made “La Sylphide” he was very stylish, he helped the young and all these people worked very hard. You need to know that we, in our company, were making 100 days of show in a year, we started the season with Metropolitan and every day was a different program. For example, on Monday, we were doing “Giselle” made “Swan Lake” on Tuesday, we had a mixed show on Wednesday and we did this for 11 week. We had a week off and then went to on tour for another 12 weeks. Every day it was a different program. Every day we were teaching and every day we were with music and of course we were tired. This is my message for your company. I think if they do not get a real director, a real ballet master, a decent salary, shoes for the dancers, gift and not to buy, take a physiotherapist at least once a week to have a piano and pianist talented and other necessary conditions that ballet requires, nothing will change. ” In the eyes of this magnificent and brilliant woman it was felt the love for her work, for her art, and the sadness of the situation of our company.
Interview by Entela Binjaku