Igor Dobrolovskiy practically beats his chest. Though sitting, he puffs it out further still and makes a series of emphatic gestures as he demonstrates his physical skill, “I’m a professional dancer. I’m not the same shape like before, of course. I’m over fifty,” he says through a laugh with that easy charm which is only ever attained by foreign gentlemen of a certain age. “Still, I show class. Like today, I have to move. I have to move my legs and show them.” He gestures again in a sort of seated pirouette, his heavy imperial moustache impressively staying in place.
Igor Dobrolovskiy is the Artistic Director of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada. He co-founded the organization fifteen years ago when he and his wife immigrated to Canada from Ukraine. Since then he’s had remarkable success, having choreographed over sixty pieces, many which have toured internationally.
Dancers from around the world audition for one of nine positions. The current members have come from as far as Japan, Russia and Argentina, and as close as Montreal. On top of their work as professional touring dancers, they also teach ballet to the children and youth of Moncton and work to build pieces that contribute to conversations about important social issues, such as the growing endemic of violent abuse in relationships among youth. They believe that art should be used to create relevant change in the community.
Their current project is a collaboration with Symphony New Brunswick’s smaller orchestral group, Camarata. Upstairs Downstairs: ICEMAN is a new ballet choreographed to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. This particular interpretation of the piece is an interesting commentary on our culture’s evolution; ICEMAN is the story of a man who, after being frozen for centuries, finds himself defrosted and disoriented in an unfamiliar and modern world.
“ICEMAN, it’s abstract, a little bit. He’s surprised at what happens, and what people do, why they do it, and why they have their hand here,” Igor gestures to his ear, making light of the fact that our society has grown accustomed to having our phones glued to our ears. “He’s trying to adopt to this lifestyle.” It’s entirely possible that ICEMAN is what would have happened had Brandon Fraser been chiseled and talented and was discovered by this decade’s Pauly Shore.
“He gets a relationship, and it does not happen. He get a little knowledge, he knows people, he has different relationship. It’s a new experience. He tries to set up a family. It does not happen because people understand each other differently. Three hundred years ago, people speak differently, and have different relationships. Imagine his disappointment. He feels alone. Then he finds cupid—it’s a frozen girl from three hundred years ago. She comes alive, and he feel hopeful.”
Relationships require a great deal of communication—a balance of give and take. One is not more important than the other. Both must view the relationship as greater than the sum of its parts. It isn’t necessarily about being right as much as it is about being together. Live music and ballet are the same way. The romance between motion and sound is a love story for the ages, but not without its own set of potential lovers quarrels. The opportunity to perform with live music is exciting; it adds a breadth to the experience of the performance. It’s also quite challenging. Performing with a live orchestra adds a lot of variables:
“The conductor works with the symphony orchestra. It’s the same notes, but it can be different. You can stretch pauses, and cut pauses. When you work with the ballet you have to adopt it to the way we do it, because a human body cannot get faster like he can move the orchestra. Some scenes you can’t stretch because the dancers do not know what to do with the pause. This has to be matched very well. The orchestra need to feel the dancers, feel what they’re doing and understand.”
Igor paces up and down the aisles of the dark theatre, occasionally peering into the orchestra pit, anxiously overseeing the one and only rehearsal with the orchestra before the world premiere. While recordings can be practiced individually, the idiosyncratic performances of both the orchestra and the ballet company must be precisely married, and the singular rehearsal doesn’t allow for much time.
“I’m responsible for the whole show. It’s a lot of steps for this particular choreography. I couldn’t do less because of the dynamic of the music. And when you are off the beat because somebody stretches the parts, it’s a small shock, people start to panic. It’s not a disaster, but you know a little slower and it makes the section look different. And faster as well. It has to be balanced.”
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is arguably one of the most recognized pieces of classical music. There’s a challenge of doing justice to a piece that audiences are likely familiar with. Like seeing a favourite book reinterpreted as a film; there’s a gamble, but the pay-off of incorporating live music with ballet can be a truly beautiful multi-sensory experience. “If people come to the symphony orchestra, they are dreaming about something, they are having fantasies. But with the ballet, we illustrate this music. Still, people can think something different, but it’s a different experience to listen and see.”
Igor’s admits this his interpretation of the piece is a strange one, “I love Four Season Vivaldi. I love all Vivaldi. But how did Vivaldi design it? It’s four seasons, he just illustrated weather and people. In this ballet Spring is curiosity, discover. The Summer is knowledge. The Fall is experience. The Winter is disappointment. But don’t forget—disappointment is the beginning of curiosity.”
For more information visit www.atlanticballet.ca
Also, as a thank you to our supporters, our complete photoshoot from ICEMAN can be seen on our Patreon account.