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American principal dancer David Hallberg plays the lead in Marco Spada in Bolshoi

November 09, 2013, 4:18 UTC+3

Hallberg said he watched footage of Nureyev's performance and learned from it but had no desire to copy it

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© AP Photo/Kathy Willens

MOSCOW, November 9 (Itar-Tass correspondent Svetlana Shkolnikova) The Bolshoi Ballet commenced its 238th season Friday, November 8, with the premiere of "Marco Spada," a reworked production of an 1857 Italian ballet that follows the adventures and romantic affairs of a bandit and his daughter.

French choreographer Pierre Lacotte created the new version from another reconstruction he produced in 1981 for the legendary Soviet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who played the lead of Marco Spada at the Rome Opera Ballet.

The role now belongs to David Hallberg, the Bolshoi's first American principal dancer, who joined the company exactly 50 years after Nureyev defected from Saint Petersburg's Mariinsky Ballet to the West in 1961.

Hallberg said he watched footage of Nureyev's performance and learned from it but had no desire to copy it. The role offered the 6'1" statuesque blonde an opportunity to play against type -- Hallberg is known for portraying princely characters in productions such as "Sleeping Beauty," "Giselle" and "Romeo and Juliet."

"It challenges me," he said. "I feel like I fit the princely roles quite well so it's always nice to be pushed beyond the prince and find something completely different, grounded and full of life."

Despite finding the choreography "absolutely taxing," Hallberg praised Lacotte's reworked footwork and style, calling him "iconic."

Artistic Director Sergei Filin, the man who personally invited Hallberg to the Bolshoi after seeing him perform on a tour in Russia, called Lacotte's "Marco Spada" a "gift" to the renowned ballet company.

The production is grander in scale than his last and features different choreography for each of the main characters, to be played by Yevgenia Obraztsova, Olga Smirnova, Semyon Chudin, Igor Tsvirko, Alexei Loparevich and Andrei Sitnikov. The Bolshoi will hold exclusive rights to the ballet for the next five years.



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