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  • Watch: Dancing 'ugly’ – Former dancer Viviana Durante on how to perform the role of Anastasia

Watch: Dancing 'ugly’ – Former dancer Viviana Durante on how to perform the role of Anastasia

The Italian former Principal shares the secrets of dancing the lead role in Kenneth MacMillan's dramatic ballet.

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

3 November 2016 at 12.47pm | 1 Comment

'When I go past the studios and I look in, I think, "That was us once!",' says Darcey Bussell to fellow former Principal of the Royal Ballet Viviana Durante.

The two danced together in the Company in 1990s, during the time where Durante danced the title role of Kenneth MacMillan’s Anastasia. In this film, screened as part of the live cinema relay on 2 November 2016, the former dancers discuss the challenges of dancing in such a dramatic ballet.

The Italian dancer was coached by Former Principal of the Royal Ballet Lynn Seymour – who MacMillan originally created the role on.

‘She just talked about the role, she never corrected me technically,’ remembers Durante, ‘She wasn’t interested in [technique] so much.’

‘For the third act, she wanted me to rehearse it without pointe shoes to get the grounded feeling that she would have had [and achieve] a more natural way of expressing yourself.’

Anastasia is both technically and dramatically demanding for the lead ballerina – who has to embody two starkly different personas in the work: Anastasia, the Grand Duchess of Imperial Russia and Anna Anderson, a woman who was condemned to a mental asylum after claiming she was the princess years after Anastasia's death.

The two dancers discuss how demanding it is for a ballerina to act out such complexities, without the liberty of words:

‘So many people ask "Are you trained as an actress?" but we’re not,’ says Bussell. ‘The music gives me the story of how I’m supposed to feel, and then I project that over my body'

Durante describes how she encouraged Natalia Osipova to push herself out of her comfort zone, to give a dramatic and 'ugly' performance: ‘It’s a difficult thing for a dancer. It's about giving [a dancer] a lot confidence and feeling of security – and then they can veer off and make mistakes’.

See more films like this by subscribing to the Royal Opera House YouTube channel:

Anastasia runs until 12 November 2016. A limited number of tickets are still available.

The production is given with generous philanthropic support from Hans and Julia Rausing, Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman, Richard and Delia Baker, The Tsukanov Family Foundation, Simon and Virginia Robertson and The Fonteyn Circle.

A number of cinemas around the world will screen the ballet again as an Encore performance. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list.



By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

3 November 2016 at 12.47pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Anastasia, Anna Anderson, by Kenneth Macmillan, Darcey Bussell, Kenneth MacMillan, Lynn Seymour, Royal Ballet, Viviana Durante, YouTube

This article has 1 comment

  1. Claire responded on 6 November 2016 at 5:45pm Reply

    It's lovely to hear these two very remarkable ladies in conversation .

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