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Ralph Fiennes Presents To Berlin Buyers

Ralph Fiennes Presents To Berlin Buyers

Ralph Fiennes Presents Rudolf Nureyev Movie ‘The White Crow’ to Berlin Buyers (EXCLUSIVE)

Ralph Fiennes is in Berlin Thursday to present first footage to buyers from his latest directorial venture, “The White Crow,” which HanWay is selling at the European Film Market. Fiennes spoke to Variety about the project, which centers on the defection to the West of Russian ballet star Rudolf Nureyev in 1961.Fiennes first considered the story as a subject for a movie almost 20 years ago when he read Julie Kavanagh’s biography of the dancer, but the project was driven into production thanks to the work of producer Gabrielle Tana, who also produced Fiennes’ first two films as a director.What drew Fiennes to Nureyev’s story was “the force of a young performer, with a hunger to realize who he is as an artist and a person … the force of his spirit, his determination, that was the thing that really moved me.”

He added: “Nureyev doesn’t really want to come to terms with anything. He is constantly pushing himself, constantly hungry. There’s a line in the film: You have to aim higher, always higher.”

David Hare, the film’s screenwriter, is “very good at writing high-definition, provocative characters,” Fiennes said. “He is very good at writing what you might call impossible people, their temperament and attitude, but you need to sympathize with them as well, and see who they are inside. Also his sense of period and the political context is very acute.”

He added: “I believe David is one of the best writers we have for writing multi-faceted characters, with interior contradictions. In Rudolf Nureyev’s case, [he accurately portrayed] a temperament, an attitude, an ambition, a charm, a vulnerability, an intelligence and an alertness, going hand-in-hand with someone who can be abrasive and quite angry.”

The dance sequences were challenging, Fiennes said, but he was guided by Igor Zelensky, the former principal dancer with the Mariinsky Ballet and now artistic director at the Novosibirsk Theater of Opera and Ballet, and Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.

Casting a young dancer, Oleg Ivenko, with no experience as an actor in front of the camera, in the lead role was also a challenge, Fiennes said, but Ivenko has got “a wonderful talent, a wonderful charisma,” he said. He was joined in the cast by Adele Exarchopoulos, Chulpan Khamatova, Sergei Polunin and Fiennes himself.

Another challenge was that Fiennes “wanted it always to be as authentic as possible,” which led him to seek out such locations as St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum and Mariinsky Theater, and Paris’ Crazy Horse. Interiors for other settings, such as the rehearsal rooms at Paris’ Palais Garnier and Le Bourget Airport, were re-created at studios in Serbia.

Sergei Plays Yuri Soloviev In White Crow

Sergei Plays Yuri Soloviev In White Crow

In the upcoming biopic “White Crow” Sergei Polunin has been cast as Yuri Soloviev.  The Ralph Fiennes film is based on the defection chapter of legendary ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev’s life.  At first, I thought Sergei should play Nureyev.  The physique, the brooding good looks… it seemed like a given.  However, the more I learn about Soloviev, the casting makes more and more sense.

sergei plays yuri soloviev
Rudolf Nureyev

Nureyev’s defection left Soloviev the company’s star

Yuri Soloviev, born in Leningrad in 1940, was in the same class as Nureyev at the famed Vaganova ballet academy.  Soloviev graduated straight into the Kirov (Mariinsky today) ballet company.  In 1961, Soloviev made his debut in the West, first in Paris, then in London and New York.  It was during the Paris engagement that his colleague, Rudolf Nureyev, defected.  Soloviev carried the season on alone as the new male dance superstar.

sergei plays yuri solovkiev
Gabriela Komleva and Yuri Soloviev in “The Leningrad Symphony”

Of his first performances in New York, Walter Terry of The New York Herald Tribune wrote: “His appearances were nothing short of sensational and audiences were invariably screaming bravos.”  Audiences continued screaming bravos through most of his career.  He was brilliant in great classic roles.

sergei plays yuri soloviev
Yuri Soloviev

Soloviev introduced western audiences to the “double assemble”

In the ballet “The Stone Flower” he whirled round the stage in a step that at the time was virtually new to the West.  The double assemblé seemed humanly impossible to its new audience.  A double assemblé is when the dancer runs, leaps from one leg into the air, assembles (hence the name) his legs tightly together, spins around twice, and lands in a tidy fifth position.  For the record, Sergei has been popping these off since he was a kid in class at the Royal Ballet School.

sergei plays yuri soloviev
‘Yuri Soloviev and Alla Osipenko in “The Stone Flower”

Facially, Soloviev was a very good looking man.  His physique was another matter and here is where the comparisons to Sergei meet a fork in the road.  As described by one reviewer, Soloviev had a “large and even difficult body.”  It was a shape one would have not expected for grace.  The same reporter wrote that “he was a poet who looked like a transmogrified truck driver.”

Soloviev had ups too

Rejoining the Sergei path, one thing that made Soloviev a truly great dancer was his awareness of gravity… or the lack thereof.  Much like Sergei, he “moved into the air like a bird and grinned at the top of his jump” to again quote the aforementioned reporter.  He had the most remarkable elevation of any dancer of his generation.  More than the sheer height of these flights, they were combined with a softness, clarity, and ballon.  His airborne abilities led to his nickname of “Cosmic Yuri,” a nod to Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

sergei plays yuri soloviev
Yuri Soloviev

There seemed to be no technical difficulty he was unable to master completely.  And, again, much like Sergei, Soloviev was a sensitive and gifted actor, a master of understatement and taste.  As Albrecht in “Giselle,” he played the role with a beautiful desperate passion, yet was completely believable as the shy and handsome prince in “The Sleeping Beauty.”

So, as much as I originally wished to see Sergei portray Rudolf Nureyev, it seems Ralph Fiennes may have gotten it right to cast him as “Cosmic Yuri.”   We shall see.

– Pam Boehme Simon

Dance Magazine Article July 3, 2017

Dance Magazine Article July 3, 2017

Everything Sergei Polunin is Working On, Because We Obviously Need to Know

Sergei Polunin has a penchant for unexpectedly bursting into the news.  DANCER, a feature-length documentary, has proved to be a sympathetic portrait of ballet’s favorite bad boy.   He’s been increasingly visible, popping up everywhere from “So You Think You Can Dance?” to Sadler’s Wells. So what’s the international star got next on his dance card?

Teaching a Master Class

Some very lucky ballet students will take a class with Polunin at Danceworks London on July 18. Currently sold out, interested students can add their names to a wait list.) Polunin teams up this spring with the studio for a scholarship to its summer dance program.  The Sergei Polunin Inspiration Scholarship, has since been awarded to two young dancers.

A Featured Role in a Major Hollywood Film

Don’t expect pirouettes. Murder on the Orient Express is a remake of the classic 1974 film based on the 1934 Agatha Christie murder mystery, here starring the venerable Sir Kenneth Branagh. You can glimpse Polunin looking rather haughty in the above trailer, in which his character is identified as “The Count.” He might not be dancing, but it should be pretty amazing to see him acting opposite such a heavy-hitting cast. In theaters this November.

Dancing with Jennifer Lawrence in Another Hollywood Flick

Okay, so do we know for sure that the above post is from rehearsals for Red Sparrow?  The new Soviet-era spy thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence?  No, but we’re fairly sure we’re correct.  Polunin is definitely attached to the film.  Justin Peck is almost definitely choreographing.  And, since Peck and Isabella Boylston posted on Instagram about being in Budapest while filming was happening there, it’s a safe bet that Boylston is Lawrence’s dance double. (Lawrence’s character is an ex-ballerina turned spy; we’re guessing that Polunin is her partner.) So yes, pirouettes are likely in this one. Red Sparrow is currently slated for release March 2018.

Filming One More Movie, This Time with Ralph Fiennes

The White Crow is a dramatization of Rudolf Nureyev’s defection to the West.  Ralph Fiennes is directing. Not sure who Polunin is playing, but he reportedly begins filming this summer.  He stars opposite Russian ballet dancer Oleg Ivenko (Nureyev) and French actress Adele Exarchopoulos (Clara Saint).

Author:   for Dance Magazine Jul 3 2017




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