Dwight Rhoden – my aim is to tell the tale without changing the storyline.

У Родена есть его балетная труппа в Америке — Complexions Contemporary Ballet, которая за 20 лет существования несколько раз объехала с гастролями земной шар, а в прошлом году впервые выступила в Украине

Photo by: Aleksandr Medvedev


American choreographer Dwight Rhoden, who is currently producing THE GREAT GATSBY ballet in Kiev, in which Ukrainians, Russians and Americans collaborate together told NV about his theatre in the time of war.

The American Dwight Rhoden, who is acclaimed as one of the most sought out contemporary dance choreographers in the world, will stay in Ukraine for two months.

Rhoden came to Ukrainian capital to produce the ballet based on F.S.Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby”, together with the ballet star Denis Matvienko performing the main role.

Author of the music for the ballet based on one of the greatest pieces of American literature, is a Ukrainian composer Konstantin Meladze. Meanwhile Rhoden has started selecting dancers from Russia, Ukraine and the USA.

He has his own ballet troupe in the US as well – Complexions Contemporary Ballet, which in 20 years of its existence has toured across the world a few times, and last year they performed in Ukraine for the first time.

Also Rhoden choreographed dances for shows of worldwide known artists, such as the American R’n’B singer Prince and his fellow American Lenny Kravitz. Choreographer has worked on a few projects of the largest circus in the world – Cirque du Soleil.

Now his work records include THE GREAT GATSBY and Kiev.

— Were you afraid to travel to Kiev?

— Honestly, I was. Of course, I had concerns, and asked [producer of the project] Alyona Matvienko if it was safe here, and she said: absolutely. I trust her.

I came to Kiev in the beginning of December for filming of the music video for the ballet, when the demonstrations in Maydan were only beginning. I could understand that the situation was escalating. After that first encounter with political circumstances in Ukraine, I’ve followed the news regularly. But the American news still have their own peculiarities, and I wasn’t sure if they were truthful and accurate enough.

— Why did you decide to take part in THE GREAT GATSBY ballet?

— Firstly, because of Denis [Matvienko], who I have known for a long time. He is an excellent artist, I have choreographed for he and his wife Anastasia before. When I came to Kiev with my Complexions troupe last spring I met Alyona. We discussed various ideas, and the proposition of turning Jay Gatsby’s story into a ballet seemed intriguing.

— How is this production relevant to Ukrainian and Russian audience?

— Well, I think for Ukraine and Russia it is more relevant than for anyone else. It is a timeless story about loneliness and heartbreak. This side of the human nature is always interesting to be explored.

Besides, it is a contemporary story because 1920’s were a really economically unstable period, a crazy time when people were fighting for their own independence. Women started smoking then for the first time and received the right to vote. It was also a time of excess.

— While working on the ballet do you plan to experiment at all or will you focus on clear choreography and commercial success?

— I think the choreography will be clear, as my goal is to tell a tale without changing the storyline. Although, dance is of abstract nature, it has no words, only music, movement and design. Hopefully, the movement will be innovative, but the story will remain unchanged.

— How many dancers will you take into the project?

— The quarter ballet will have ten men and women, plus eight soloists. Apart from Denis, the lead dancers have not been confirmed yet.

— Are there any difficulties in preparation of the ballet, taking into account a development of military conflict between Ukraine and Russia?

— I don’t live here so I don’t really know. But I have friends in Ukraine and in Russia, and I’m realizing what is happening. The thing is, when people come to theatre they leave everything else behind its walls.

There comes a moment when they simply enjoy the art, music, dance. I believe that art can establish connections between people. It is a healing, in a sense.


Author: Oksana Mamchenkova