Japanese ballet version of La Dame aux Camelias


The New National Theatre Ballet Company (otherwise known as NNTB), part of Japan’s New National Theatre Tokyo (NNTT) performing arts center — see below, is setting off on the 2nd foreign tour in its history. In Japan, the Russian school of classical ballet is greatly revered and one of the main bearers of its traditions is, of course, the Bolshoi Ballet. And the fact it is the Bolshoi Theatre who will be playing host to New National Theatre Ballet causes the Japanese dancers to prepare for the tour with particular care, all the more so as appearing with them will be Svetlana Zakharova — Bolshoi Theatre prima ballerina and, at the same time, NNTB principal guest artist.

The New National Theatre Tokyo (NNTT), it opened on 10 October 1997, is Japan’s first and foremost national center for the performing arts including opera, ballet, contemporary dance and drama. This magnificent building has three performance facilities at its disposal: Opera House, a large-scale theatre for opera and ballet productions, plus Play House and The Pit which host dramatic theatre productions as well as works by contemporary dance companies. Moreover, the NNTT (the center’s president is Atsuko Toyama) is more than a collection of performance facilities available for rental, it is also a rehearsal base, i.e., real theatre home for its opera, ballet and drama companies, each of which have their own schools in the building.
In 2006, NNT Ballet School students demonstrated the high level of their skills at The International Ballet Academy Festival — Proteges, which took place at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington.

The NNTB’s first foreign tour in fact was at the Kennedy Center. This was in 2008 and the Company presented Glazunov’s Raymonda, a production — based on motifs of Marius Petipa choreography — by Asami Maki, the artistic director of NNTB and the well-known choreographer and teacher. Our balletomanes will remember Asami Maki was a jury member of Benois de la danse-2008; at the time, an excerpt from her ballet La Dame aux camelias was shown at the Bolshoi Theatre New Stage. Our audiences will now have a chance to see the full version of the ballet.

La Dame aux camelias,
to music by Berlioz, was created by Asami Maki in 2007 to mark the tenth anniversary of the opening of NNTT and the foundation of its Ballet Company.The main roles at the premiere of the ballet were danced by Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Matvienko. The latter duet will appear twice during the NNTB September 2009 season at the Bolshoi Theatre’s New Stage: they will dance the Russian premiere of the full version of La Dame aux camelias on 18 and 20 September. On 19 September, the Japanese artists, Jun Horiguchi and Ryujui Yamamoto will perform the lead roles. The NNTB collaborates with world famous choreographers, set designers, conductors and composers. In its repertoire, apart from a wide selection of ’staple’ items of the world ballet heritage in classical and NNTB productions — such as Giselle, La Sylphide, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Raymonda, there are also many 20th century ballets: Frederick Ashton’s production of Prokofiev’s Cinderella, Delibes’ Coppelia in Roland Petit’s production, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and Manon to music by Jules Massenet in a production by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, the ballets of George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Nacho Duato, as well as original ballets created specially for the Company.

Among the world ballet stars who have appeared with NNTB are: Bolshoi Ballet soloists Svetlana Zakharova and Andrei Uvarov (NNTB principal guest artists), as well as Diana Vishneva and Denis Matvienko (Maryinsky Theatre), Lucia Lacarra (Bavarian State Ballet), Alina Cojocaru, Tamara Rojo, Carlos Acosta (Royal Ballet, London), Jose Manuel Carreno and many others.