Judith Turos: I Only Dance Parts I Believe In

If to the ordinary Romanian ballet aficionado the name Judith Turos doesn't ring a bell, to the German press she is die Turos, just like Italians say la Fracci. Born in Baia Mare, she attended the Choreography High School in Cluj and graduated from the Moscow Ballet Academy, Judith Turos "only danced one summer" in the late Oleg Danovski's company, freshly established in 1978, originally under the patronage of Fantasio Theater. After the second summer, she pursued her calling, settling in Munich, where before long she became danseuse étoile of Bayerische Staatsballett. She has been the authoritative favorite of both the audiences and critics from the German-speaking space ever since, while her immense repertoire includes work with the most important choreographers of the time (Neumeier, Van Manen, Youri Varnos, etc.)Recently, she returned to Romania for a short period of time, invited to restage Giselle at the ODBT, after a five-year absence of the performance – an opportunity to meet again, remember, and set up new projects. How was your comeback to the company you left so long ago?It will be exactly twenty years this winter. I felt incredibly well with my former colleagues; my stay here was a sheer delight. It is wonderful to be loved and admired without jealousy or envy.How can a performance be resumed in which you never played? The Constanţa premiere took place in 1984.I had no problem; I knew they staged here the original choreographies, slightly modified by the maestro Oleg Danovski; in the ensemble passages, I relied on the dancers' memory, and I also had a video recording at my disposal. I intervened mostly in the dramaturgic passages; I recreated the pantomime, as it was outdated and lacking in naturalness. In the Maestro's time, accuracy prevailed, they were perfectly tamed, but they did not know why they were making some moves. The choreographer is also a stage director, and he has to speak a lot to make you understand the meaning of the gesture. For instance, in the pas de deux the riskiest moments are the linking ones, the steps between the elements of studied technique; there one can easily 'slip out' of the personage. Felicia Şerbănescu and Cristian Tarcea understood me and I was very content.It seems to me that, at times, you were grumbling during the show…It happens to me to be dissatisfied, because I'm eager to solve too much, but one cannot do all in just two weeks, and the stage equipment did not enable me to get the stage effects I wanted. Oddly enough, the most difficult are the pantomime roles (Hans, the Mother), not the heroic ones.Why do audiences still come to see Giselle?I wonder too. I noticed that people would rather go to see what they already know, especially in ballet. In order to frequent something new, a certain interval must elapse, as was the case of neo-classicism. As money outweighs art in a transition country such as Romania today, I was surprised to see such a large audience. Besides, Giselle has always been my favorite ballet, that is why I chose it for my collaboration with ODBT: it is the very embodiment of Romanticism. You recently attended pedagogy courses. Did you feel the need to reorient?It was not me, but my director, who opened my eyes and persuaded me that I had to be well-grounded, although I knew that even without those courses I would be a ballet maestro after quitting ballet. I had then a period of intense overwork that induced some health problems. Professionally though, it came in handy, I can already perceive the change.What comes next?I stick to my repertoire, as programmed by the management of my theater. My performances will grow to be more rare, and I give up some roles, as the younger generation gradually fills in for me. If it were up to me, I would attempt to combine the possibilities of the company with the wishes of the audience. Many choreographers, however, keep the music and title of a ballet, while denaturing its meanings. I never dance parts that I don't believe in and that don't suit me, and it's too late to change my mentality.How do you make artistic preferences get along in your family?We respect each other's tastes. My husband has had an unusual evolution: after ten years as a ballet dancer with the ensemble, he began to study singing rather late in his life, as he has a beautiful innate voice. Now he sings in a Munich theater, and he is an appreciated tenor. Lanssa is 10 years old and she will not hear about ballet. She inherited her father's quick understanding of things, but she doesn't like physical effort, she's more pragmatic.Do you have any plans in connection with ODBT?Mrs. Munteanu, the Director, has plans with me, but it all depends on the agendas of our respective theaters. I hope we'll see each other again next summer, but nothing is certain yet. Why Giselle now, although the ballet is not included in the traditional autumn-winter tour of the company, which is usually designed to suit the requirements of the impresario? Because the title had been missing from the theater's playbills for several years, and any respectable Ballet Theater keeps it on stage. Because the managerial policy of Director Ana Maria Munteanu incorporates an extension of the artistic and genre capabilities of the company, alternating contemporary dance with neo-classical and classical academic ballets. And because it is the ballet closest to Judith Turos' heart, who danced – in time and in several versions – both main female parts, Giselle and Myrtha.July 2000, Constanţa, the stage of the Unions' Culture Club. From the old guard, only a few willis remained one can count on the fingers of a single hand. Production is the same (the sets and costumes are well preserved), the choreography is, by and large, well-known. The performers change from time to time: Felicia Şerbănescu made her comeback with a more mature Giselle, fragile and childish in Act I, lyrical but resolute in Act II; Cristian Tarcea's approach to the role of Albrecht is progressive: he gets to live his part, becoming natural and relaxed little by little. Aliss Tarcea and Costel Georgescu radiate the happiness when dancing together of the earthly couple of lovers; Vindora Haivas' aplomb comes as a surprise, as it is her first major role (Myrtha); Daniel Precup reveals yet latent dramatic resources. There are still a few mismatches between gestures and music, the perfection of the line is no longer the chief obsession, Giselle's girl friends in Act I are too numerous, while the willis ensemble is airy enough. But there is a gain in coherence, the gestures are no longer overdone to be perceived, schematism and gratuitousness have disappeared, and all in all the company responded well to the challenge, if we take into account the short period of rehearsal and the low age average of the group. Was it just an experiment? It was a crystallization, necessary sooner or later, and the recovery of a past and future success.

by Vivia Săndulescu