OF THE LITHUANIAN NATIONAL OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE
Krzysztof Pastor, Artistic Director of Ballet
Rūta Butvilienė, Deputy Artistic Director of Ballet
Jolanta Davolytė, Ballet Coordinator
Irena Baradokienė, Inspector of Ballet
Voldemaras Chlebinskas, Ballet Artist - Consultant
Skaidra Siparienė, Assistant to Ballet Master
Danielius Kiršys, Assistant to Ballet Master
Laurynas Navickas, Assistant to Ballet Master
The court ballet in Lithuania was started in the 16th century. At the same time dance was encouraged at school theatres too (e.g. at the Vilnius College founded in 1570, which in 1579 was reorganized into the Vilnius University, at the Kraziai College and the Kaunas College, founded in the 17th century). Latin school drama, which survived more than 200 years, united all the branches of the arts. Traditional plots as well as taken from Lithuanian history were danced then.
On September 4, 1636 drama musicale "Il ratto di Helena" by playwright Virgilio Puccitellia and unknown composer was staged at the court theatre in Vilnius. The court theatre of Lithuania's Grand Duke and Poland's King Ladislaus Vaza, which had already performed in both capitals Warsaw and Vilnius, produced the premiere. There were 20 dancers in the theatre.
The ballet became particularly popular in the middle of the 18th century. Dramas, called ballets, were produced at the Vilnius University. The nobles of Lithuania supported ballet troupes and ballet schools, directed by Italian and French ballet masters. Then there were 10 theatres at the courts working for longer or shorter period of time. They survived up to the beginning of the 19th century. At the public town theatres, founded in Vilnius and Klaipeda in 1785, ballet has little developed. However, during the 19th century the ballet in Lithuania was extremely enriched by the guest performances of French, Italian, later Russian ballet troupes.
Ballet in Lithuania truly revived in the autumn of 1920, when Lithuanian Opera and Ballet Theatre was founded (it was opened on December 31, 1920 with the premiere of opera "La traviata" by Verdi). On December 4, 1925 the Ballet Troupe of the Theatre showed its first full evening with Leo Delibes' "Coppélia" (up to then the troupe has danced only in the opera productions). Later, ballets by Adolphe Adam, Riccardo Drigo, P. L. Hertel, Poitr Tchaikovsky, Ludwig Minkus, Aleksandr Glazunov, Igor Stravinsky, Georges Auric, etc., by Lithuanian composers Jurgis Karnavicius, Juozas Gruodis, Vytautas Bacevicius, Balys Dvarionas, Juozas Pakalnis, and ballets with music by Frederic Chopin, Robert Shumann, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Eric Satie, Francis Poulenc, etc. have been produced. In 1935 Lithuanian Ballet guest performed in Monte Carlo (10 performances) and in London at Alhambra Theatre (32 performances). Material changes took place in the summer of 1944, when the Red Army once again occupied Lithuania. A lot of theatre artists, half of the ballet troupe among them, emigrated to the West. The ballet studio of the theatre has stopped its work (only in 1952 the Department of Choreography was founded at the Vilnius Art School, which is the present Vilnius Ballet School).
During the season (September – June) the company is usually participating in 15-20 different productions and dances around 10 performances a month. Aside from 2 premieres that are presented during one season, members of the company are also participating in opera productions.
The repertoire of LNOBT’s ballet company encompasses productions of different choreographic styles. It includes pearls of the classical repertoire, such as A. Adam’s “Giselle” (choreographer O. Vinogradov), P. Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”, “The Sleeping Beauty”, L. A. Minkus’ “La Bayadere” after M. Petipa’s choreography, S. Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” with choreography by K. Pastor, also works by Boris Eifman -“The Red Giselle”, L. Delibes “Coppelia” (libretto and production design by M. Chemiakin, chor. K. Simonov), A. Melanjin's “The Blue Danube” after J. Strauss’ music. The company is also performing in M. Corder's "Snow Queen", Lithuanian choreographer Anželika Cholina’s ballet “Barbora Radvilaitė” and “Tristan and Isolde”, a production created by the company’s artistic director of ballet Krzysztof Pastor after R. Wagner’s music. It also cultivates the tradition of staging national works - such examples include E. Balsys' "Eglė the Queen of Grass Snakes" (chor. George Williamson) and "Čiurlionis" by G. Kuprevičius, choreographed by Martynas Rimeikis.
Ballet company of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre has earned wide international recognition as a troupe that displays the highest level of professionalism. It achieved enormous success with the world tour of “Romeo and Juliet” together with M. Rostropovich – with him as conductor, the company performed in Germany, France, Egypt, Greece, USA, Italy, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom. The company also presented its pieces of classical repertoire in theUK, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Germanyand elsewhere.
In 2015 the ballet company celebrated its 90th Anniversary. “To dedicate an entire week for the celebration of the 90th Anniversary of Ballet, to prepare five different programmes and finally to organize a spectacular Stars of Ballet Gala – such goals are truly risky. The wonderful National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Vilnius bravely took up all of them, and kept their promise beautifully. The stars of Vilnius’ ballet were equal with the world stars of ballet, shining with brave technique and artistry.” (Margarita Médina, “Dance” 2015 December, France).