Тоni Rаnđеlоvić, Ballet Manager and Аnа Đurić, Prima Ballerina of the Serbian National Theatre: Ballet must work in order to live!

It is quite obvious that we are eagerly waiting for this situation with the Covid-19 virus pandemic to end and we hope that it will end painlessly for all of us so that we can continue with our work. We have planned two premieres, one in Novi Sad and the other in St. Polten and then, we will go on a big world tour.

Despite the state of emergency and the epidemic because of which we are self-isolating, we will continue to share stories and news about developments in the political, diplomatic, economic and cultural scene in Serbia and the region. We will interview and record the statements from selected persons from the world of economics and diplomacy, as well as public figures. We talked to Toni Ranđelović, Ballet Manager of the Serbian National Theatre (SNT), and Аnа Đurić, Prima Ballerina of the SNT. They told us about their plans after the pandemic and the projects they are working on right now.

Тоni Rаnđеlоvić, Ballet Manger of the Serbian National Theatre (SNT)

1. This year, the Ballet of the Serbian National Theatre celebrates the 70th anniversary of its foundation. Several jubilee events have been planned. What have you managed to do so far and what remains to be done in that respect?

This year, we are going to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the SNT Ballet. This is a big jubilee and for such a big jubilee, we have also planned great events. Namely, a major event took place on the very day when the Ballet was founded on 7th March 2020. On that occasion, we opened an exhibition of ballet photographs of our artists from all our performances during the last 20 years. After that nice celebratory exhibition, the Ballet played its performance that premiered last season. This was Ferdinand Herold’s “The Wayward Daughter” (La Fille Mal Garde). The central event was intended to take place on 28th March 2020, which is the day of the Serbian National Theatre, accompanied by a ceremonial academy, awards to all our members employed in the SNT and the premiere of the ballet “The Legend of Ohrid “ by Stevan Hristić, our most famous composer. Unfortunately, we were not able to realise this magnificent event because we were prevented by a well-known situation of a universal pandemic and the Theatre had to suspend all activities until further notice.

2. The ensemble of the comic ballet “The Wayward Daughter” by Louis Joseph Ferdinand Herold has won the SNT’s Annual Commendation. In addition, the SNT’s Annual Award is given to three dancers and to the scenographer. What has marked this ballet season in addition to the ballet “The Wayward Daughter”?

The Wayward Daughter” is our latest ballet performance and I can say that it is at the very top of ballet performances that we have in our repertoire regarding the quality. Beautiful choreography, decor, costumes, light effects and, above all, divine artists. We have a very good cast, both for the premiere and for the replay (second cast). The performance has received the award for the best show of the season, which it absolutely deserves. Also, for the scenography, Sasa Senkovic (scenographer) has created a very unique set design so far unseen in performances around the world, when it comes to any other performance of “The Wayward Daughter”. This could not be unnoticed, as well as, the bravura dancing of ballet artists themselves: Аnа Đurić (Lise), Milan Ivan (Colas), Samuel Bishop (Widow Simone) who received the SNT’s Annual Awards for Best Performed Role, as well as the SNT’s Annual Commendation to Igor Tauber for the role of Alain. There are no doubts that our ongoing repertoire that is taking place in parallel has marked the season along with the premiere of “The Wayward Daughter”. This is confirmed by sold out tickets and satisfied audience.

3. What are future plans of the SNT Ballet?

It is quite obvious that we are eagerly waiting for this situation with the Covid-19 virus pandemic to end and we hope that it will end painlessly for all of us so that we can continue with our work. Ballet must work in order to live! First of all, we have to perform our already finished premiere of “The Legend of Ohrid” by Stevan Hristić and then, we go to the next premiere that has also been planned as the part of the jubilee. This is the “Coppelia” by Leo Delibes. And then, we will enter into the year 2021 when Novi Sad is proudly going to be the European Capital of Culture. The SNT Ballet will have a very prominent place with reference to that because a co-production with the “Europe Ballet” from St. Polten (Austria) will be implemented. The ballet “Madame Butterfly” will be the first performance in the world in the choreography by the famous choreographer Peter Breuer. We have planned two premieres, one in Novi Sad and the other in St. Polten and then, we will go on a big world tour.

Аnа Đurić, Prima Ballerina of the Serbian National Theatre

1. In the Ballet of the Serbian National Theatre and as the Prima Ballerina of the Ballet you play almost all main roles. How demanding is that and how much responsibility is that for you?

You cannot become a prima ballerina without hard work and sacrifice and for that reason, it is very demanding. Although every member of the ensemble is responsible, principal dancers are the most important in the performance and their responsibility is the highest. Principal dancers have to be role models to other members of the ensemble not only by their work but also by their behaviour and treatment of other dancers, particularly young ones.

2. Although rehearsals for the Stevan Hristić’s Ballet “The Legend of Ohrid” are suspended at present due to the state of emergency, we can say that this is now a performance you are working on. The choreography is set by Vladimir Logunov and you interpret the role of Biljana. To what extent does the choreography affect the formation of the character and do you have the opportunity to somehow develop the character of Biljana in new circumstances?

It is a great challenge to do the performance of “The Legend of Ohrid” because so far this wonderful legend has not come to life on our stages. Vladimir Logunov is a top choreographer of exceptional musicality who is comfortable to work with because he understands dancers and gives them freedom of expression. In “The Legend of Ohrid” I have two roles, Biljana and Biserka. Both are demanding in their own way. It is not easy to move from one character to another. Yes … and now that we are in the state of emergency, I am working on these roles to the extent allowed by the situation. I am trying to imagine these two characters and to find adequate emotions. I hope that when all this is over, we are going to have another successful premiere.

3. Your career is full of progress and you have the sympathy of both the audience and the critics. Would you accept an offer from abroad if you receive it?

I will accept to perform as a guest dancer but I will never accept a permanent engagement. The reason is simple, at the SNT I feel comfortable, I constantly move forward, I have good working conditions and understanding and the pedagogue Oksana Storozhuk is my supporter, helper and the wind in my back. When you have all that, you are fulfilled, satisfied and you do not need to go abroad.

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