A human Spartacus of today

THE LOOSE trilogy of original ballet works bringing epic historical characters to the Slovak National Theatre (SND) this season has come to a close. The last such character, Spartacus, joined his "colleagues" Rasputin and Caligula on May 7.
A team similar to the one that worked on the ballet Rasputin, led by the young and well-established director and choreographer Ján Ďurovčík, met again.


"I AM not just Spartacus; I'm a man."

THE LOOSE trilogy of original ballet works bringing epic historical characters to the Slovak National Theatre (SND) this season has come to a close. The last such character, Spartacus, joined his "colleagues" Rasputin and Caligula on May 7.

A team similar to the one that worked on the ballet Rasputin, led by the young and well-established director and choreographer Ján Ďurovčík, met again. Following the original musical score written by Aram Khachaturian and based on motifs of the Roman empire, they present the revolting legend Spartacus as a man: a man who not only fights and kills, but also suffers and loves.

"From the start we wanted to make the ballet about people, not about larger-than-life characters," said Ďurovčík. "We wanted [Spartacus] to be about a man who is unmistakably driven by what he wants to achieve, but who is primarily a man."

The choreographer and director, who also arranged the work's libretto, emphasises the virtuosity of male dancing, mainly during the mass scenes.

"A visitor who comes to the performance expects the men to do incredible things. So wherever I might do this ballet, I have to use the theatrical cliché of male virtuosity. Strength must dominate," he said.

Ďurovčík did not attempt a recapitulation of the Roman period. Cooperating with Boris Kudlička and Alexandra Grusková, the modern set- and costume-designing duo responsible for re-invigorating the theatre's ballet repertoire, he set the story in an uncertain period, a time they named "neo-antique".


SOMETHING for the ladies: the power of men.
photo: Courtesy of SND

The term points to the roots of the designers' ideas. The monumentality of Rome and its antique symbols are reflected in modern times, following a logical path designed by the creators.

"What was crucial to us was the acting of the characters, the acting of people in any period - how they fight against injustice and how they follow their goals," Ďurovčík said.

The national theatre first staged Spartacus in 1981, directed and choreographed by Otar Taktakishvili. Another production, in 1998, was choreographed by the Slovak Jozef Sabovčík and featured Jozef Dolinský, Jr in the role of Spartacus. He is reprising his role in Ďurovčík's version.

The next performances of Ďurovčík's Spartacus take place on May 12 and June 12.


photo: Courtesy of SND

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