Just for the record: Sergey Ignatiev - Ballet Master Vienna State Ballet - Jan. 19th, 2018
It is Friday, January 19th and I am late. Quite late in fact… I arrive at the Vienna State Opera’s Stage Door at the very last minute and meet Sergey Ignatiev: we had arranged some days before that I would watch his class and then interview him in the Canteen.
I was really looking forward to this meeting – knowing and admiring his work just from videos that I had seen in the Internet, I felt that this meeting would inspire me to further research, thoughts, ideas. I could not have been more right.
Sergey Ignatiev was born in Russia and got his initial training at the Bolshoi ballet school in Moscow under Alexander Prokovieff. At the age of sixteen he already received his first engagement in Classical ballet Companies in Moscow. Solo performances in Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Don Quixote, Giselle etc. followed. After his engagement at the Saxon State Opera, the Semper Opera Dresden (ballet director: Vladimir Derevianko), Heinz Spoerli hired him in 1995 for the Ballett Deutsche Oper am Rhein. Youri Vamos renewed his contract when he took over the direction of the ballet. At the Ballett Deutsche Oper am Rhein he had solo performances in choreographies of Erich Walters, Hans van Manen, Matz Ek, Nils Christe, John Neumeier, Jiri Kylian, Heinz Spoerli, Antony Tudor, Youri Vamos, Jochen Ulrich and other important choreographers. As a guest dancer he did performances with different ballet companies in the United States, China, Russia, Japan, Finland, Portugal, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Italy and Germany in the course of galas, festivals and tours. 2007 Sergey started teaching. His first steps as a teacher were at the Dance Academy Münster. He then got engaged as guest master trainer at different theatres and ballet companies like the Ballet Leipzig, Wiesbaden, Düsseldorf/Duisburg and Vienna among others. Since 2010 Sergey Ignatiev is working under the leadership of ballet director Manuel Legris for the Vienna State Ballet.
His classes are extremely musical and this is a fascinating fact. He prepares them very carefully accordingly to the requirements of the rehearsal schedule, to the requirements of the day. Like building up the stamina in order to get a better performance out of the dancers that mirrors their full-capacity on specific days and especially on those of general rehearsals, difficult perfomances. On the other hand, during “after Première days” he is gentle and smooth with the fatigued bodies of the Dancers. Just like after “Swan Lake” or “The Nutcracker”. I like that: understanding. Care.
“Dear Sergey, you had a very successful career as a dancer – but you started teaching very early, haven't you?” I say.
“Yes, its was 2007 while a still was dancing. It was in Münster and the great Joyce Cuoco talked me into it... A great moment. A turning point in my life. In 2010 I joined the Vienna State Ballet under the direction of Manuel Legris. Sometimes I cannot believe that nearly 8 years have already passed...”
“Do you change your class everyday, accordingly to the necessities of the day (stage rehearsals etc.)?”
“Yes and no. You see, my classes contain all the necessary “ingredients” for the day. They are prepared in advance – I don't prepare the dancers only for the center, only to give a performance during class. I prepare them for the stage, for specific performances – and you have to let them “breathe”. You have to work gently with them, with their bodies and, sometimes, with their exhaustion!”
“Have you choreographed before? Would that interest you?”
He smiles pleasantly and says “Do you remember the beginning of the last Gala in “Volkstheater” last year? The one dedicated to Igor Zapravdin and his 25 years at the Vienna State Opera? The one that was organized by Kirill Kourlaev and Olga Esina? Yes? And do you remember the start of the evening, the bars, the class? That was my work. I did it but it is, as people say, not “my cup of tea”. I honestly have no choreographic ambitions...”
And then he adds earnestly “ To give classes, to rehearse and to coach: These are my real ambitions... in fact to give my experience, thoughts and knowledge further.”
“Would you like to talk about future plans?”
Quiet and sincerely – as if his soul would be sustaining a long “balance” - he answers simply and in exactly the same way he is and talks. A person without any “airs”: “I want to stay in the Ballet World”.
The thing that one suddenly realizes while talking to him is that he loves what he does. And this "giving love" to what you do is the true measure of an artist.
Thank you, Mr. Ignatiev for your precious time and for the pleasure of watching your class (I cannot resist and include a video here. One that was made of Nikisha Fogo and Greig Matthews - now at the Joffrey in Chicago - last year! Pure musicality!).