Studebaker Theater, Chicago
May 4, 2019. 2pm and 7 PM
Read the Picture this Post (PTP) interview with Alexei Kremnev (AK), one of the Artistic Directors of A&A Ballet, as they prepare for their performance of Sleeping Beauty on May 4 at the Studebaker Theatre.
PTP: Please give our readers a little background about who A&A Ballet is and how it began?
AK: A&A Ballet started in 2016, because in June of that year Anna Reznik and I were laid off from our jobs at the Joffrey Ballet Academy and Studio Company. After a while we started thinking about the city and all the students we had worked with and we decided to create A&A Ballet. It all stemmed from social media. We posted information about our summer intensive and in 2-3 weeks we got about 45 local and national students signed up. The following September we started our Conservatory and Pre-Professional programs.
What can you tell our readers about A&A Ballet’s new studio opening in 2020?
We’ve continued to produce more programs and performances and in January of 2020 we will be in our new facility in the South Loop. We will also begin open classes for adults, and mommy & me classes there as well.
What is your background as a dancer/teacher/choreographer and how do you bring that experience to A&A Ballet?
We started in Moscow at the Bolshoi Ballet and then toured internationally so we bring a variety of international experiences to our teaching. In the United States and especially in smaller studios, you have a mix of students. Not all of our students are looking for a professional career or will have one. At A&A Ballet, our goal is to realize the potential in all of our students and play to their strengths. 95 percent of our dancers won’t become professionals so we are also looking for ways to give them the best experience possible that they can bring with them in their future.
How many dancers are in the upcoming production of Sleeping Beauty, and what are their ages?
There are 90 dancers total in Sleeping Beauty, starting at age 6.
What is the rehearsal/creation process like for you?
We started rehearsing in January. We work on staging the children’s parts first on Saturdays. We used guest performers from the Youth Company for Princess Aurora.
How would you describe your choreography for this version of Sleeping Beauty and how is it different from the original?
Let’s say if you were 11 years old and you came to the theater for the first time, you would have to have something to keep you on the edge of your seat. The most important part is to be able to stay engaged. In terms of our interpretation of this production, it’s a little different because the plot moves much faster. Our goal is to make it really entertaining.
Where do you see A&A Ballet headed in the Chicago Dance scene?
We hope to be a strong educational center in the future. Our focus will still be classical ballet and contemporary dance with a few open class offerings in jazz, hip-hop, Pilates, and yoga. What we hope is that in ten years our current students are coming to our center bringing their children to classes.
It’s interesting when you look at the dance scene in Chicago you have a lot of recreational studios and a few professional companies but there are a huge number of dance students between the ages of 18-22 who have been studying for years and they are looking for a job. They often find themselves in a situation where they don’t have quite enough experience yet for a job, so we provide them with professional and performance opportunities. Then once they have more experience with working in that professional setting, it’s a completely different picture and they are ready to work in a professional company. I think A&A Ballet is a great link to provide opportunities for these young dancers.