On 15 February the Lithuanian cultural community was informed about the awarding of National Culture and Art Prizes by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. Martynas Rimeikis, artistic director of the ballet company of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre (LNOBT), is among the twelve laureates of this year.
Martynas Rimeikis graduated from the Ballet Department of the M. K. Čiurlionis School of Arts in 1999 and in that same year became a soloist with the Ballet Company of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 2007 he won the Švyturiai Award as Ballet Hope of the Year, and in 2011 won the Švyturiai Award as the Best Male Ballet Soloist of the Year. Various tours have taken him to United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Poland, etc. At the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre he was the performer of most principal roles, including Espada (Don Quixote), Yorgos (Zorba the Greek), Hilarion (Giselle), Chekist (Red Giselle), Othello (Desdemona), Franz, the Count (The Blue Danube), Žygimantas Augustas (Barbora Radvilaitė), Nathanael (Coppelia), Gurn (La Sylphide), King Mark, Rivalen (Tristan and Isolde), Čiurlionis (Čiurlionis), Don Jose (Carmen) and others.
A few years ago LNOBT‘s project Creative Impulse, initiated by LNOBT’s Artistic Director of Ballet Krzysztof Pastor, turned into a stepping-stone for M. Rimeikis as a choreographer. Here he expressed himself as a talented composer of dance movement and a sensitive director of choreographic miniatures. His first composition was Waiting for Godot, presented during the first Creative Impulse in 2012, and his Journey followed a year later. M. Rimeikis’ other creations for this project were Adagio for Strings (2014) and Alone (2016). Modern dance compositions created by M. Rimeikis for the pupils of the Ballet Department of the National M. K. Čiurlionis’ School of Arts have been performed in international ballet competitions and were bestowed various awards.
In 2014 M. Rimeikis was invited to one of the biggest dance events in the world, an international dance fair Internationale Tanzmesse NRW, where he presented his miniature Waiting for Godot. In 2015 he presented ballet Everywhere We Weren’t (after the music of Max Richter), which was included in a triple bill of one-act ballets Bolero+ at the LNOBT and received the Golden Cross of the Stage award for best choreography.
In 2017 M. Rimeikis presented his first full-length ballet Der Prozess at the LNOBT. The work received theatre’s Event of the Year prize and also won two Golden Cross of the Stage awards for both the choreographer and composer Mindaugas Urbaitis. Der Prozess was the first Lithuanian production to be broadcast on Mezzo TV, and his ballet Eglė the Queen of Grass Snakes, staged at the Klaipėda State Musical Theatre, became the second. In 2019 M. Rimeikis' ballet Days, Minutes won the Golden Cross of the Stage. In December 2020, the premiere of the ballet triptych BER, which included M. Rimeikis' ballet Blind Words, took place at the St. Moniuška Grand Theatre in Poznan. In 2021 M. Rimeikis presented his premiere of The Rite of Spring at the LNOBT.
On the occasion of the prestigious award, we asked the artistic director of LNOBT’s ballet company to answer a few questions.
It's common to say after receiving an award: "It's not just me, it is the merit of the whole team". Would you apply this wording to the recent prize of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania?
Without a doubt. A choreographer on one’s own, without the support of the company and the management team of the theatre would not be able to achieve anything. Therefore, I consider it not as my personal achievement, but as a recognition of the talent of LNOBT’s ballet company and, at the same time, the entire team of the theatre.
Each award is also an obligation for the future. How do you imagine LNOBT’s Ballet Company in the coming years? What are the upcoming dance premieres, in addition to the "Harlequin’s Millions" that is already being prepared? Will the "Creative Impulse" be held this summer, when the performers will be left without the big stage due to the reconstruction of the building?
I would name the continuous professional development of the dancers of our ballet company as the main goal – I will continue to focus on this. I am fascinated by the great dedication and interest in the profession within young people who join the company. Therefore, I would see the LNOBT ballet company as growing and having beautiful prospects in the future. During this year's summer festival, we plan to present an exclusive, festive Ballet Gala concert, during which (in addition to our company’s dancers) famous foreign masters of ballet shall also perform. The performances of "Creative Impulse" will also take place, wherever and however – the ballet artists taking care of this event will decide. Since the theatre will be closed for the audience due to reconstruction already in the spring, they will look for the space that best suits their ideas and will probably pleasantly surprise not only the audience, but also me.
Your most recent production, "Lamb of God" by Feliksas Bajoras, united the entire team of the LNOBT: ballet, chorus, orchestra, opera soloists worked hand in hand, as well as everyone whose duty it was to accompany this national work until the long-awaited confrontation with the audience. It must be painful for you to see how the team's unity has been slowly disintegrating in recent weeks...
The production of "Lamb of God" was truly special, because it is a production about us, Lithuanians, about the upheavals we have experienced throughout the history. Therefore, during the entire creative process, a special concentration of all theatre services for a common goal was felt. But I don't feel any particular division at the moment: on the contrary, I see the team's unification and the bold expression of its opinion, which would make everyone happy in a democratic environment. It is sad that this opinion is ignored, writing everything down to one man's ambitions and his inability to accept defeat. But this is not true. I respect the opinion of the majority of LNOBT’s team and I would expect the same from the government representatives, who should answer the questions raised by the team.