A short Talk with Igor Milos, Vienna State Ballet: January 11th, 2019
All my followers, know that I try to mention the corps de Ballet in my reviews as much as I can. Yes, the ones that seem sometimes to be forgotten by the critics. The ones that are on stage in every single performance and do not come to „rest“ between them, like some soloists or principals. The ones that have a stage rehearsal in the morning and dance a last „Sylvia“ performance one evening just to be on the première of „Coppélia“ the next (This happened last January 26th and 27th). Yes, the ones that are on stage in every single performance.
In every company there is the strong „supporting cast“, as I call them. Dancers on which we, as an audience can rely on. Dancers on which the Ballet direction can rely on. These steady characters with lots of experience, know-how and extreme versatility mixed with discipline. Yes, versatilty that is sometimes not even recquired from some soloists, specially the ones that have „decided“ to be „just“ on the modern side (and that, to my point of view, are in the wrong Opera House). Sometimes I wonder if a company would not produce more with a less hierarchical form of separating the dancers. As far as I am correctly informed a „Joffrey“ does not divide the company into segments of Corps de Ballet, Demi-soloists, Soloists and Etoíles. Quite an old-fashioned notion, at least for me and my way of thinking. Hierarchy. Dancers should be payed for their efforts, conquers, accordingly to what they perform, accordingly to the way they „grow“ as dancers and develop their Art… But sometimes I seem to forget that we are in Austria and Hierarchy always plays a big role here. Still...
I am now starting a series about these reliable dancers. Dancers with lots of experience… Just some weeks ago I have interviewed brilliant Céline Janou Weder. Now it is time for an interview with Igor Milos and that was long due.
Having observed Mr Milos´work for quite a number of years, I came somehow to know him on stage – even though he always surprises me. During the last weeks, having quite critically observed a number of photos that were made of him (and which he displayed in his internet page) I found that something was „missing“. I am not talking about the complete absence of stylist work and the poor quality of the photos – it is obvious that the person who did this shooting is far from being a professional – but about something much more important that was simply „not there“: The „photographer“ failed to catch Mr Milos´ very own puckish sense of humour, that makes his personality „overflows“ on stage. How can someone overlook this most unique quality?
We met by The Opera and walked together, on a very cold Viennese late afternoon, to a Café/Restaurant nearby. One of those windy afternoons that makes me wonder why I do not spend a longer part of the winter in Rio…
We found a table, sat down, ordered something to drink and started chatting. Very informally. No pressure. Just naturally.
After a while I said „First things first, when did you start working at the Vienna State Opera?“.
„I am with the company since 2002!“ he says „I went directly from Belgrade to Mannheim. One day Renato Zanella visited the school and invited some dancers to come to Vienna and join the company – but for some unknown reasons, it did not work out. I did audition in Salzburg (but I did not want to be in the province) and later I got a private audition in Vienna. This time things worked out just the way I wanted and I got the job!“
„I was just thinking of „The Concert“ and „Peer Gynt“...How do you prepare of yorself for a new role ?“
I could plainly see on his face that he had nice memories about that as he said „Oh, „The Concert“… It was so important to work with the coach who passed to us also some small details of this wonderful Jeromme Robbins´work. But at the very end one always develop one´s own interpretation or version or „vision“. It is, of course, difficult to please everyone and yourself“ he smiles teasingly „On the other hand, the creative process while creating the Hungarian King in „Raymonda“ required more in terms of historical research… “
„Any fond memories about nice times preparing for some new work?“
He sighs and says straight away „How could I forget the working process on Jeromme Robbins' „In the night“? Such a beautiful experience!“
„I have heard that your great uncle… „
„Yes Aurel von Milloss; dancer, choreographer and ballet director was my great uncle. He had a long and very productive career. He was in different companies in Germany, in Milano, in the Opera in Rome and even in your country in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro! From 1963 he was the Ballet director at the Vienna State Opera (Herbert von Karajan brought him to the Vienna State Opera and during this period he worked here with Fonteyn and Nureyev) and then again from 1971 to 1974!“
„Which, in fact, are your favourite roles or ballets up to now?“ I ask.
Without reflecting for one single second, he said quite firmly „Anna Karenina“ (Boris Eifman), „Murmuration“ (Edwaard Liang), „Blowstop“ (Jorma Elo) and „Petite Mort“ (Kylian). Definitely!“
„And if I were a genius in a lamp and would grant you three wishes… which roles would you like to dance?“ He laughs and says „Any wish I want?“ „Sure, go on!!!“
„ First „Bella Figura“ by Kylian, Matthew Bourne´s great „Swan Lake” and anything, just anything from Eifman… „
„Are these your favourite choreographers, Igor?“ „Please add Forsythe to this list!“ he winks!
Turning to a very earnest subject, I say „What is your opinion about the technique „craze“ at the moment (I can only describe it this way…)?“
He sighs and says, nearly bitterly „Hasn´t it all started with Sylvie Guillem? I mean, over extensions and all that? To be honest, I sometimes like the way things developed these days – but there should be a limit to all that!“
„And about acting a role?“
While hearing this question, he becomes quite serious: „Dancing is a language on its own. There is no need for making faces or clowning... It is the body language that counts. No acting is necessary“ This made me think of a choreographer with whom I worked many years ago, Zdenek Hampl, from „Lanterna Magica“. He used to say: „If you act a role in the traditional sense, like „mime“ etc. it becomes „theatre“ and you are a dancer and want to stay one, don’t you?“ This is a principle that I understood in early years and have always believed in. It surprised me to hear it from a dancer from a much younger generation!
„And the Style issue?“, another very important point for me. „Unfortunately „Style“ always ends in the second place! Everyone want technicality and just technicality – why don´t companies try to find the time in order to sit together and speak/talk/discuss about the piece, the time it was conceived, the stylish issues BEFORE rehearsals begin? This would be so important, extremely important in fact“
„And as a final question, which is your forte? Take your time!“
„Oh, Ricardo, no need to take time to answer that: abstract roles are my forte!“
A very rewarding time spent with a dancer whom I consider jovial, funny, witty and that has, as mentioned before, a very puckish sense of humour… A quality which you immediately see on stage. Yes, a very rewarding time because of its serious tone.
Chapeau, dear Igor and Thank you for giving me so much of your time! It was an ENORMOUS pleasure!