A short talk with Irina Tsymbal - Principal Vienna State Ballet: April 26th, 2018
We met at the Café in which I usually do my interviews. But it was crowded and noisy. Not really the place in which an interview with lovely Irina Tsymbal should take place… We decided to walk back to the Opera and sit in another Café. And this was not only a good idea but gave me the chance to walk along with this gifted artist and realize – just by paying attention to her movements on the street – her low profile, her way of respecting other passers-by, her gentility and gracefulness… A Lady – in the most literal sense!
Somehow Miss Tsymbal reminds me of a flower… Yes, but not of a flower in vase standing still. She reminds me of those films that showed us flowers growing fast. Taking the full energy of the floor to bring it to the bloom. Necessary are healthy conditions, like a good earth, air, water...
You do not know what I mean? Watch this Video...
Now... Do you know what I mean? ;-)
Her Baroness Vetsera (in McMillan’s “Mayerling”) is exactly like this. Her use of the “floor” (in order to gain on energy) is one of the most amazing that I have ever seen. A work of Art. Not only in this role but in everything she “gives” us on stage. Beautiful foot work to project energy, poetry, imagination and intelligence into the space…
“Irina, let’s talk about “your” Vetsera… and when you first got into this character!”
“Ricardo, it was quite a while ago and it was not here in Vienna, like many believe. My “first” Vetsera was performed in Hungary and I had the big luck to be coached by Lynn Seymour (Editor’s note: Canadian Dancer, Seymour was first cast in “Mayerling” in its première in 1978 to David Wall’s crown Prince Rudolph). Wow, what a Lady! Velvets, brooches and hairstyle… and high heels. She showed me extremely important things – not only technically but the smallest pin-pointed details like, for example, how Vetsera should walk on stage. I was still a very young girl and she taught me how to show a sort of “sexuality”, which is required for this role and was surely one of the motives to their, Mary’s and Rudolph’s, relationship. It was an amazing experience, working with such a great artist, such a great woman. I felt like a sponge, soaking up everything she said and showed… “ she sighs.
Miss Tsymbal has this kind of glance that reveals so much of her soul. She mostly looks down, recollecting memories und making use of her power of remembrance, quite involuntarily and spontaneously. Fascinating how her eyes show all this. Exactly like in the "flowers' video" above.
“I must confess, Irina, that I am not such a “big fan” of “Mayerling”. I find it sometimes too long and too much knowledge of history is required to be able to understand the ballet – not really “ballet language”! YOU were the only reason why I went to the Opera to so many performances. How else did you prepare for this most fascinating role?”
She smiles a sort of Scarlett O’Hara’s or better said, a Devonshire cat’s smile and says: “I spent so many hours researching the time in which she lived, looking at her photographs, studying her looks, even the way she made up her eyes. It is fascinating to have the chance to be able to portray such a character!”
“Do you watch videos of other performers?” I ask quickly.
“Sometimes” she said in a way that made me fully understand her awareness to other more important things in creating a role. Beautiful.
“Vetsera is a very complex role. You have to accept the person and not change her. That is the way she was. On my way on trying to understand her I found out that she accepted so many things, too many things because she was passionate about Rudolph, a feeling that is sometimes stronger than love… “
While talking to her, I feel all of a sudden very lucky to be doing this job: I can not only interview wonderful personalities, have a glimpse into their "souls" and give my readers lots of joy, but I can also learn so much.
This gifted dancer (that is quite interested in historical dance, by the way) that pays extremely attention to the meaning of every single movement, is at that precise moment of a career that is so special. That moment in which an artist has gained the experience that makes her work be filled with an aroma, a perfume of maturity but still mixed with the power of youth.
“Which are the most challenging roles in your opinion?”
Without hesitating for one second she answers: “Giselle” and “Swan Lake”
“Style?” I ask to this most careful of dancers that pays such a big attention to details. “I thank my teacher, Galina Sinelnikova, for the hours spent with me. Style. When I think how many hours we have worked on my first “Giselle”. Necks, head inclinations, hands, very "little" but such important details… Such a shame for young dancers that nowadays there seems to be no time anymore for that” she says sadly. And she is right. More than right!
“And music Irina? What is your relation to it? I must explain why I ask you this: I am always fascinated by your “phrasing”, it’s like watching in movement what a lovely Julie Andrews did to her songs, if you’ll excuse me the comparison... I do not like to compare artists, really"
“Every time I start working on a new project, I first download the music and keep hearing and hearing to it until it becomes “natural” to me, a part of “my system”. I was taught by Miss Sinelnikova how to visualize my movements ON the score. Really on the written notes. An unusual but very interesting - and affective - way of understanding what you are doing”
Miss Tsymbal, who has just finished a row of performances in “The Concert” (or "the perils of everybody") and brought the Vienna State Opera down with her timing, wit, beauty and charm – watch my reviews from last April 16th and May 3rd - has recently toured Japan where she danced with Ballet director Manuel Legris, performing together the pas de deux from "Sylvia" (John Neumeier) and "Le Rendez Vous" (Roland Petit).
“Le Rendez Vous” will be seen again in Vienna this year, during the next “Nureyev Gala” on June 29th.
Something to look forward to!
Thank you for such a pleasant time filled with delicacy!