For the latest episode of our “Locker Room Talk” series, the Communications Crew tested the multi-tasking skills (and patience) of Festival Ballet Providence (FBP) Resident Choreographer Viktor Plotnikov: We decked out the men’s locker room in Halloween decor, set up a pumpkin carving station, and handed the choreographer a tiny plastic knife and a trick-or-treating bucket of questions sourced from all of you! There is not nearly enough time for all of Viktor’s creative genius in one short video, so we’ve transcribed the rest of the interview here for you. Let’s see how he made out…
How is choreographing movement for a broom different than making steps for a human character?
Well, bringing the broom to life was actually a big challenge. First of all, the Broom’s movement resembles a lot of human characteristics. When it meets the Widow’s son, the Broom tries to behave like a kid. So, the choreography has to have elasticity to show that the Broom is alive. But the choreography also has to represent the rigidity of an object as well as the agility of what this broom can do, and I think that’s the magic.
Would you rather get a pumpkin spice latte or go apple picking?
I love apples. I grew up picking apples- we had a garden with an apple tree there. I haven’t gone apple picking in a long time. That would be a treat.
[Carves a hole in top of pumpkin]
How did you find FBP and why did you want to choreograph for them?
In Boston I was trying my hand in choreography with little pieces in different workshops. Misha came to see these workshops and one day just called me. He wanted me to choreograph a big piece- Carmen- and I almost fell on the floor. I got so nervous.
That was in 2003. I started working with the company then and that’s how it went. So really Misha found me and gave me the opportunity to do a bigger work here. It went rather well, I think.
If two witches watched two watches, which witch would watch which watch?
I would say that the first witch would have to watch the watch of the second witch. And yeah, like that. So the witch would have to watch the watch of the witch which watched the watch of the witch before that witch. [Laughs]
[To the crew] Guys, this is so much fun! I’m definitely going to buy myself one of these kits.
What was it like working with Chris Van Allsburg, Aleksandra Vrebalov and Eugene Lee?
That’s an awesome question. All of them are so inspiring. Chris Van Allsburg was so fantastic. He’s like a little kid. He was so inspired. So alive!
Eugene Lee was so fast. He presented the whole structure of the sets as a mock up in a small box, like a miniature stage. That was a lot of fun, to look inside and sort of walk through.
Working with Aleksandra was my first time actually working with a composer. It was really cool, because we could collaborate so much. If I needed a section to be a certain length, she was able to accommodate that. It was really awesome.
The whole process was really inspiring. It was a lot of teamwork and collaboration.
[Turning his gaze back to the pumpkin] Guys, I’m going to cut my hand off!
Uh oh. Let’s talk inspiration. Where do you get your inspiration from?
From space! [Laughs] I think inspiration sits within us all the time, it just has to be activated. Sometimes you already have the story cooking in your head, so you get excited. Sometimes you have a piece of music already, so then you have a base to create from. It’s all about being inspired in a different way.
[Viktor turns around his half-carved pumpkin]
Look, look, look, look, look, you see? [Laughs] It’s not that clean, but it’s coming along.
How do you feel when you see your choreography being performed on stage?
I used to panic for the final element, until I learned that then it’s in the hands of the dancers. When it goes on stage, the dancers are responsible for it. It’s still stressful, but not too much.
Was “The Widow’s Broom” the first storybook ballet that you choreographed?
No. Well, there was Carmen, then…yeah it’s the second. [Laughs] Ta-da!
Have you choreographed any other story ballets since?
Yes, Cinderella. And Romeo & Juliet coming up at First State Ballet Theater in Delaware this March.
Which of your ballets are you most proud of?
I think the one I did for one of the workshops way back in Boston. It’s called “State of Mind”. I like that piece the best not because of the movement, but because the idea was bold. I was not afraid. Later, I guess all choreographers do this, we end up sticking to what we know to a certain degree. But choreographing “State of Mind”, I was really experimenting with what I could do.
I’m more interested in the work itself in the studio. The process is much more interesting than the final result. For me, I don’t have that excitement once its over. When the last step is created in the studio, that’s when I give birth to my baby.
[Revealing his finished pumpkin to us] Here! That was the last question and it’s done. [Imitating a ghost] Ooooh!
To see “The Widow’s Broom” on stage, click here for tickets or call (401) 421-ARTS.
This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.