Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares bring South American passion to the Royal Ballet – and their own romance.
Music: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky | Choreography: Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov | Production: Anthony Dowell | Conductor: Boris Gruzin
Cast: Royal Ballet with Marianela Nuñez & Thiago Soares
Approx duration: 140 mins
Screening at Palace Nova Eastend Cinema in stunning High Definition this weekend!
April 2, 3 & 4
Screening Times Friday 11:30am | Saturday 1.00pm | Sunday 1:00pm
“What a terrific performance it was! Stupendous!” – The Telegraph (UK)
A sumptuous treat for audiences. Anthony Dowell’s romantic, Fabergé-inspired production of one of the most loved of all classical ballets. Swan Lake has that magical combination of Tchaikovsky’s music, a compelling story of tragic romance and choreography that allows the very best dancers to show just how mesmerising they can be.
The magic of Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares…
Article by Nadine Meisner – The Sunday Times (UK)
Audiences love a ballet partnership: Fonteyn and Nureyev, Sibley and Dowell… Permanent ballet partnerships are, the cliché goes, made in heaven. And they are so romantic. In the more fervent imaginations of some fans, the emotional heat generated on stage spills over into prurient possibilities off; hence the continuing fascination over whether Fonteyn and Nureyev were, or were not, more than just friends. So we can all relax before Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares (pronounced Tee-ago Soares). They are the Royal Ballet’s youngest principals, South America’s brightest couple, with a physical contrast that makes them visually striking – he a dark, dramatic Latin, she an outgoing blonde. And they are not only a dance partnership but a confirmed off-stage item. While they are dancing the opulent Tchaikovskian symmetries of Diamonds, the finale of the Balanchine Jewels programme, on Tuesday, they will have on their mental back burner plans for a wedding next summer. And when they are making further partnering debuts in Balanchine’s Tzigane (February) and Romeo and Juliet (May), they will probably consider their performances as a blessed relief from wedding-party logistics.
As nuptials go, theirs will be especially complicated, with three celebrations: one in London, for friends; one in Rio de Janeiro, for Soares’s family; and one in Buenos Aires, for Nuñez’s – “Or else,” Nuñez says, “my father will…” She makes a slicing gesture across her throat. She was born in Buenos Aires 25 years ago, the youngest, and only girl, of four children. This being so, she was dressed in pink, started ballet aged three and was doted on by everyone. At five, she declared that she wanted to be a ballerina, and eventually went to the school at the Colon theatre – Argentina may be the land of tango, but the Colon’s ballet troupe is the best in South America. She was just 14, and had not finished her training, when the Argentinian ballet star Maximiliano Guerra invited her to dance with him. As a result, she was taken into the Colon ballet, dancing main roles with Guerra as well as performing in the corps de ballet.
Then, at 15, she was accepted by the Royal Ballet, spending a year at the Royal Ballet School to conform to the British school-leaving age. She remembers her audition while the Royal Ballet was on tour in California, which was all the more daunting for being bizarre. She danced a solo from Don Quixote – without music, and watched not only by Monica Mason, now the company’s director, but by the then director Anthony Dowell, dressed in drag, ready for his performance as the wicked fairy Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty.
Soares joined the Royal Ballet in 2002, aged 21, and was thrown in at the deep end. His first role was, of all things, Carabosse; the following night, he was also the prince, replacing an indisposed Jonathan Cope. His route into the company was more circuitous than Nuñez’s – “more exciting”, as she puts it. He originally trained in circus skills, encouraged by parents who wanted to keep him out of mischief. He was also dancing with hip-hop groups; being an acrobat, he could do more tricks than the others. He was almost 16 when he started ballet, encouraged by a friend. (“No!” he had originally said, laughing.) Two years later, he was at the Paris International Dance Competition, an important showcase, where he won a silver medal. Three years later, he won the gold medal at the Moscow International Competition, joining an illustrious line that includes Mikhail Baryshnikov.
After that, everybody wanted him. He spent six months as an apprentice with the Kirov Ballet and eight with theMoscow State Ballet as a principal before returning to the Municipal Theatre in Rio de Janeiro, where he had already been a dancer, to dance Romeo. When he arrived at the Royal Ballet, he stood out less for his technique, which was still a bit rough, than for his vivid presence. We saw some-onetall and dark, with strongly defined outlines and a way of engaging fully with the action on stage.
It must be a South American thing, this outgoing enthusiasm. Our meeting place – a Royal Opera House hospitality suite – pulses with energy. We argue about being a foreigner in London, about the newer, less starry generation of Royal Ballet dancers. Nuñez is explaining that Argentine training is good, but teachers tend just to make you get out there and dance. “There is no careful method; on the other hand, you get to try everything very young. I was doing fouettés [a series of whiplash spins on one leg] when I was just 10, which means I wasn’t scared of anything.” She feels she learnt her expressiveness and refinement at the Royal Ballet. “You become an artist here,” she says.
She must have been a fast learner, because critics enthused about her as soon as she started appearing in featured roles. It’s not just that she’s blonde and pretty, but that she uses her lively intelligence. When you watch her, you sense an underlying dramatic warmth. And although she has a bravura technique well able to deliver, she prefers the difficult nuances of half-tones over flat, gaudy colours.
The pair have partnered each other in most of the classics: Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Coppélia, La Bayadère, The Nutcracker. Does it not cause problems, being together 24 hours a day? She says: “We do fight a little in rehearsal, but that’s normal.” He says: “We complement each other; it takes two to tango. And when things work, when you hit the goal with the person you love, it’s amazing. Equally, if something is not perfect, we both immediately sense it and try to find a remedy.”
They were a ballet duo before becoming a romantic one. What makes their stage partnership work? He says: “It took some time, but now we really understand each other and our timings. She has the ability always to do well, which pushes me to keep up. Also, you know, in partnerships it can be tricky, because one partner might suit a role and the other not. But so far we’ve been lucky.” She says: “He’s an incredible partner, so I don’t have to worry about a thing.”
What does she think of him as a dancer? “His acting skills are unbelievable, which has helped me a lot. Sometimes he has a better eye than I do; he sees things, I don’t know how.” What does he think of her? “Say something nice!” Nuñez warns. Soares obliges: “She is somebody who has been changing so much, and I hope it will stay like that. She always has a view of a role that is fresh and new – a first-time feeling – that makes work interesting every day.” Ah, to be in love.
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