A short Talk to Erik Murzagaliyev, Soloist at the Bavarian State Ballet: Jan.26th, 2018
Short Biography: Born in Almaty, Kazakhstan, shortly after midnight, on November 7th, 1991. After doing sports gymnastics for three years and attempting and sometimes winning local youth and kids' tournaments, he decided to leave big sports and was accepted into the National Ballet School at the age of 9. He graduated 8 years later with "Les Sylphydes" and Balanchine's “Tchaikowsky Pas de deux” in one evening. Which is quiet a challenge for a 17 year old.
After a few auditions he joined the „Bavarian State Ballet“ where he has been ever since.
It is Friday, 3:30 pm and I am sitting in the corner of “Cotidiano Café” in Munich/Schwabing. He walks in, just coming from rehearsals for “Onegin” in which he is going to give his début next Friday in tittle role. We greet each other warmly and having never met personally before, I am quite surprised at the first moment by his height (188cm) but I quickly remember his Crassus to Prisca Zeisel’s Phrygia… Yes, of course he had to be that tall!
After having ordered some (for me unknown) Russian tea brand (strangely called “Vladimir”), we begin our talk and he tells me that this is already his eighth Season with the Bavarian State Ballet…
“Erik, which were in fact your favourite roles until now, up to this moment of your career?” I ask.
Without hesitating he smiles and says “That is for me quite an easy question answer… Exactly in this order: Solor (La Bayadère, editor’s note), Thybald in Cranko’s version of “Romeo and Juliet” and Crassus (Spartacus, editor’s note)”
I catch myself wondering for a while why these three… I wonder about the vitality, not only physically but also dramatically, the “reading” of the character, so to say… They have many things in common. A nearly visceral quality unites them. About his fascinating Crassus (and to be very honest I am not a fan of “Spartacus” as a ballet), I have already written in March 2017…
“About your next Première as “Onegin”… who’s coaching you in this most subtle role that inspired a whole sequel of Russian characters which are very like him?”
“I am very lucky to be coached by Filip Barankiewicz , artistic director of the Czech National Ballet, that has worked a lot with the “Stuttgart Ballet” and knows many of the ultimate Cranko’s male roles like his little finger”.
Erik Murzagaliyev also gave life to “Karenin” (Anna’s husband, “Anna Karenina”, editor’s note). A very difficult character, in my opinion, sometimes even “gloomy”. While I think about this I keep looking at this very athletic 26 year-old that combines two qualities that are quite hard to find (together) in the dancers of our present times: physical vitality and spirituality… He is very “spiritual” in his approach to Art (we did not only talk about Ballet). Am I right?
I venture another question and ask him about his creative process, adding that this might be a difficult question to answer and that he could take his time. “Not at all, Ricardo, not at all” he says smiling – but this time his eyes are shining. This seems to be a very familiar theme to him. One that he has spent lots of time thinking of. “We are very lucky to have such literary material (he is referring to “Onegin” and “Anna Karenina, I guessed), such material written by geniuses (“Oh”, I think, “I was nearly forgetting Shakespeare’s Thybald”) and how lucky I am that I can read Pushkin and Tolstoy in their original language. “That is my way of researching characters. I read! And I must add that I strictly avoid watching videos! Sometimes, even if you don’t know, even if you are aware of it, you start copying them. That is nearly inevitable!!
We talk further and discuss on “historical” (or ballets with a plot) and “abstract” ones. He says “Telling a story is an important point”. I do not believe that he quite convinced of my theory (and opinion) that even abstract ballets “tell a story – or many of them” because, in my point of view, feelings can be described as “stories”.
But, to make a long story short, I am once again more than convinced that you can only be an artist if you have a rich, inner life, if you have the humility to admit that the learning process never finishes and that only intelligent dancers have the gift of turning into dance, material that they find outside of the dance world. Mr. Murzagaliyev is for me a living proof of this.
Thank you for a most enjoyable, challenging, pleasant conversation and afternoon! It is getting quite difficult to find partners to “philosophize” about dance the way we did! God bless!
attitude / www.attitude-devant.com