Classic ballet 'The Legend of Love' comes to Dubai

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Classic ballet 'The Legend of Love' comes to Dubai
© Provided by Khaleej Times Classic ballet ‘The Legend of Love’ comes to Dubai

Ballet enthusiasts in the UAE can look forward to a timeless masterpiece by renowned Russian choreographer Yuri Grigorovich, The Legend of Love, scheduled for two performances at Dubai Opera on October 27 and 28.

A 50-year-old composition with philosophical overtones, The Legend of Love – based on an ancient Persian legend – continues to enthral contemporary audiences around the world with its elegant pas de deux and corps de ballet scenes.

The Legend of Love portrays the epic tale of an ultimately tragic love triangle between Queen Mekhmene, her sister Shirin and the handsome young Ferkhad.

The Dubai Opera shows mark the first Middle East performances by Astana Ballet Theatre of this classic by playwright Nazim Hikmet and music composers Arif Melikov and Simon Virsaladze.

The Astana Ballet Theatre was founded in 2012 in Kazakhstan and since its launch has added local and international multi-genre performances to its repertoire. It embodies a signature ballet style that combines the classical with modern dance trends.

We spoke to three of the principal dancers from The Legend of Love who expressed their delight at bringing this renowned ballet to Dubai.

Farkhad Buriyev, Soloist – dances as Ferkhad

Buriyev graduated from Almaty Choreographic School in 2006 and has a ballet repertoire that includes Swan Lake (Siegfried), Romeo and Juliet (Romeo, Paris) and Anna Karenina (Vronsky).

How do you feel about Astana Ballet bringing The Legend of Love to Dubai?

This is a big step; we’re excited to premiere not just the ballet company but Yuri Grigorovich’s The Legend of Love recital.

We’ve been touring the world reviving Kazakhstan’s ballet culture; our theatre is slowly establishing itself and gaining recognition on the global stage. I hope Astana Ballet Theatre will soon become as renowned as other long-standing global theatres.

Have you performed in Dubai before?

This is our very first trip to the city, which makes it so much more memorable. Performing at Dubai Opera for a diverse, multi-cultural audience is a special milestone.

The Legend of Love is both beautiful and tragic. When did you first hear this story and what are your thoughts about the character you play on stage of the lover Ferkhad?

The Legend of Love has been a major part of my life; my parents have celebrated and embodied this ballet to a point that they named me after Ferkhad, the main character, so that I would grow strong and powerful like him.

This ballet is close to my heart and every time I’m on stage, it is that memory I live through during my performance.

You have participated in many famous productions like Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet and more. As a dancer what has been your favourite part so far and why?

I have performed over 30 roles in national, classical and modern ballets during my career. So, it is quite difficult to single out one or two favourites; as a soloist I have had so many memorable roles. Diverse storylines and demands are unique to each production; I do prefer classical and playful ballets rather than abstract modern choreography.

Whatever the recital, it’s important that I bring my characters to life. Performing the choreography is one thing but living the character is the fulfilment of my performances.

What are the challenges and rewards of performing live on stage? What do you do to inspire yourself just before a performance?

As soon as I get on stage, I embrace my character and leave myself behind the curtains. This gets me into my role completely, and my performance comes to life. Ballet and many forms of dance are usually live, dancers are taken to task in these types of events.

Perfection is the pressure because there’s no room for error, so it’s important to be prepared physically as well as mentally with stamina to improvise when the need arises.

Standing ovations, cheers and the bravos are the biggest thrills; these rewards are unexplainable. Each performance brings a different type of energy.

Aynur Abilgazina, Soloist – dances as the Queen

She graduated from Almaty Choreographic School in 2003 and also trained as a choregrapher. Her repertoire includes Anna Karenina (Kity) and Scheherazade (Zobeida).

How do you feel about Astana Ballet bringing The Legend of Love to Dubai?

For me personally, every tour and performance in any city in the world is exciting. As a leading soloist, I have a huge responsibility to present the heritage of Kazakhstan’s culture, theatre and art through my performance.

I’m proud to bring Astana Ballet Theatre to an international audience and represent our theatre and country on a world stage.

Have you performed in Dubai before?

This is our first performance in the Middle East and it’s a great time to bring two of our great ballet recitals – The Legend of Love and Sultan Baybars – to Dubai. At the time of Expo 2020, I hope we are able to enthral residents and visitors as we premiere here.

The story of The Legend of Love is both beautiful and tragic. When did you first hear this story and what are your thoughts about the character you play on stage of the Queen?

Being a dancer, I was exposed to The Legend of Love ballet and the legendary choreographer Yuri Grigorovich at an early age. Ballet is a big part of our culture; we get to experience theatre and know the many ballet classics.

Mekhmene Banu, the Queen, is close to me not only for her strength of character and spirit, but she is full of love, hope, devotion and compassion for those dear to her. Her sacrifice shows her unconditional love, no matter the pain from disappointment.

You have participated in many famous productions. As a dancer what has been your favourite part so far and why?

I treasured my role as Mekhmene Banu in The Legend of Love and some of my other favourites are Carmen, Zarema and Salome. These roles are diverse and very demanding and allowed me to push myself further and develop each character to deliver what is required.

While the parts are important, every dancer will tell you it’s each story and plot that is of great significance. Ballerinas have the task of emotional narration expressed through movements and facial expressions, so it’s critical to embody the role completely. I use my own life experiences as a way to bring these characters to life.

What are the challenges and rewards of performing live on stage? What do you do to inspire yourself just before a performance?

A live performance is an exchange of energy between the audience and the performers on stage. Such an exchange occurs once and cannot be repeated or experienced twice the same way.

That’s the beauty of live performances. Usually, I go out to ease my mind and do things that inspire me before every performance. I read or listen to music and spend time outdoors, I find this takes the stress out as well.

Tatyana Ten, Soloist – dances as ShirIn, sister to the Queen

Tatyana graduated from the Almaty Choreographic School in 2003 and has had leading roles in productions like Raymonda, Swan Lake (Odie) and Giselle.

How do you feel about Astana Ballet bringing The Legend of Love to Dubai?

We are all looking forward to our Dubai tour; we’ve been travelling a lot over the last few years, but this is our first time in the Middle East, so we are very excited about our performance in the city.

Grigorovich’s legendary ballet, The Legend of Love, has been performed by many stars and for more than one generation. I hope Dubai will enjoy our performance and appreciate this classic recital.

Have you performed in Dubai before?

This will be my first performance in Dubai. Astana Ballet Theatre is also coming to the city for the first time with The Legend of Love. Dubai Opera is a perfect venue for such a wonderful ballet, and we are absolutely thrilled at such an opportunity.

The story of The Legend of Love is both beautiful and tragic. When did you first hear this story and what are your thoughts about the character you play on stage of the Queen’s sister Shirin?

I learned about The Legend of Love ballet when I was still studying at the Almaty Choreographic School. My heroine is Shirin, lighthearted and direct; her sister sacrificed her beauty for her salvation; Shirin’s heart is torn between the love for her sister and that for Ferkhad.

Knowing her sister is also in love with him, she cannot hide her feelings and tries to run away with her lover. There are no positive or negative characters in this tragic story; each of them carries the burden of their own story.

You have participated in many famous productions. As a dancer what has been your favourite part so far and why?

As a performer with a lengthy repertoire, it’s always difficult to pick one as my favourite. Each dance is expected to deliver a certain narration and distinguished technical routine.

Some performances are more temperamental, some more lyrical and others more romantic; I like both temperament and romanticism, therefore choosing a particular role is always difficult.

What are the challenges and rewards of performing live on stage? What do you do to inspire yourself just before a performance?

When I’m on stage, my character takes over and everything else become a blur. It’s about embracing my role and telling my story, making sure the audience can feel my emotions as well. This is a challenge and a reward; dancing in front of an audience and projecting any narration is always exciting.

You worry about every detail, every move, but all that is forgotten when you hear the applause and encore as you bow. There’s nothing like the vibrant energy of the appreciative audience – it’s a worthy reward for any artist.


The Legend of Love ballet

Venue: Dubai Opera

Dates: October 26 and 27


The Astana Ballet Theatre will also perform another ballet called Sultan Baybars on October 29 and 30.


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