I Don't Have Any Nostalgia For Princes Charming - Interview With Tiberiu Almosnino

Vivia Săndulescu: Tell me, Tiberiu Almosnino, how many years have you been serving the opera?Tiberiu Almosnino: I graduated from the Choreography High School in Bucharest in 1981, and the same year I was hired at the Romanian Opera, following a contest. So… VS: If you were to weigh what the Romanian ballet won and what it lost over that period of time, how would the balance be tilted?TA: Well, here there are a lot of things to talk about. Ballet, as a show form, has regressed in our country because it has brought nothing new. Maybe this sounds far-fetched or even paradoxical. Let me explain. Classical dancing is like an exact science, it's math, it's technical precision and a physical ideal. No concessions are admitted, because you get the result wrong. From this point of view, the Romanian choreography school has a major fault. If from the viewpoint of the technical performance evolution in dancing can be compared to athletic records – but that's doesn't happen here, unfortunately – then novelty should come in sumptuous productions. The director's conception suffers a lot, as we add to our old shows, which have gathered a lot of dust, some makeup that is either too pale, or too shiny. The lack of ideas, of taste, and of money is obvious. In turn, the contemporary dance has suffered changes. From stylizing the autochthonous folklore, people moved on to assuming Western influences. Both in ballet and in contemporary dancing, they use more video tapes than their own imaginations. But the emulation produced by the Romanian contemporary dance can't be contested, even if it is still a child growing up. VS: How would you characterize a dancer?TA: As far as I'm concerned, a dancer is a person belonging to culture, I'd dare call them intellectuals, they are sensitive receivers of the real and the unreal. I believe Maurice Béjart's definition of dancing is insufficient. I don't believe dancing is a sport plus something else, something indefinite, rather, I think it's an art related to sport because of the physical effort. Such a characterization of dancing, which is surprising and even minimizing to me, only brings grist to the mill of those who do nothing but sport on stage, expressly ignoring that plus, the essential. VS: Do you have any nostalgia for prince characters? Would you have liked to be Prince Charming all the time?TA: In classical ballet princes are impersonal characters, with a minimum of inner conflict. I prefer characters that require acting; I feel them closer to me. I don't have any nostalgia for Princes Charming. VS: You've had lots of leading ladies, colleagues, soloists, and first soloists. Did you have any opportunity to dance with your wife?TA: Yes. Although this may sound like a mere anecdote, I'll take great pleasure in telling the story of our encounter on stage, which turned into a relationship combining our professions with our personal lives. I was new in the theater, with curly hair falling on my shoulders, Maestro Vasile Marcu noticed me quickly, and he nicknamed me "young Tarzan," slightly maliciously. My wife didn't have a leading man, so she asked: "Who's Jane?" Maestro Marcu answered her simply: "You are." VS: Gigi Căciuleanu said in a recent interview, paraphrasing Maurice Béjart, that the 21st century will be the century of dance.TA: I might be wrong, but I feel people are programmed strictly, along precise directions. And social progress is channeled toward technological development, so art will find its place in extremely elevated or extremely snobbish circles. I'd like the 21st century to be the century of art in general, of kindness, of honor, and honesty. Unfortunately, art and the artists themselves lack all this, as they've raised compromise to the highest rank in their lives. Whether we want it or not, art is formative, and badly guided it can dramatically distort the very society it speaks to. VS: Recently, your institution got a new management. Does this mean to you "change" or "change in continuity"?TA: As long as the change at the top of the Opera management does not produce any effects, we can talk about continuity. Personally, I don't agree to having contests, I'd have preferred appointments. That would have involved the ministry in charge of us, creating obligations for the appointee as well. Changing attitudes takes a long time, it would've been beneficial to change certain people. From the political point of view, the change clamored in the election campaign, if it is left to contests, will hurl us to chance, I believe. Even more seriously, I think the ministry is trying to wash its hands by not assuming any decision to appoint people. The Opera is a cultural institution of national interest, with a great international impact. If Mr. Răzvan Cernat makes essential changes in the bushy management staffing scheme, if he makes the difference between opportunists and professionals, then the change will be visible. Anyway, time is on his side. VS: What roles or ballets would you like to dance in?TA: Unfortunately, my artistic future is the same as my present. If anybody had asked me about my projects four years ago, well, I didn't have many, but they were precise. When a dancer who is not so young anymore is deprived of important premieres and debuts for such a long time, disappointment, and even fear can set in. I have projects now, too, but I don't want to talk about them, because I've reached the conclusion that, unfortunately, the current context is not favorable to me, so they might remain dreams, nothing more. I'd like people to understand that the art of dancing is art first and foremost, that every appearance on stage is a unique moment when you are more than a performer, you are a creator, on an equal footing. VS: How do you see the future of ballet?TA: You can't talk about dancing separately. It can't be dissociated from other arts, as it can't be dissociated from the life of the society. If dance continues to be needed, it will endure and develop within the natural logic of things. I can't tell where to because people who are sure of everything and never doubt anything make me angry. I believe that the classical ballet will for the most part give up the canons corseting it, favoring neo-classical dancing, seeking a more poignant expression of human feelings, and doing away with that slight "coldness" of classic dancing, which is ascribed to it by the conventionalism of movements. Contemporary dancing is so diverse in terms of choreographic expressions, with so many influences from other arts, that we can't talk about a unique line of development for it. Only one example here. Along a certain direction, we can talk about certain hermetic ways of revealing ideas by limiting the choreographic languages to the minimum, which leads to a much more intuitive perception, based on senses, if you don't have the necessary decoding mechanisms. Come to think of it, the artist's vocation is always to be one step ahead, because he is only appreciated by posterity, and less so by contemporaries, who are always more obedient.

by Vivia Săndulescu