My name is Kalena Tano, and I am a dancer at Southern California Ballet. In 2017, I have the chance to compete at the Cecchetti International Classical Ballet Competition from July 31 to August 5 in Florence, Italy for multiple scholarships and contracts to various professional companies as well as a $5,000 grand prize, among other smaller prizes. This competition only happens every 4 years, so this is really my only chance to compete. But before I compete, I have to make my way to Florence. The budget breaks itself down (approximately) as follows:
Choreography: I have decided to choreograph my contemporary solo myself in order to save the $300-600 it would have cost me to hire a choreographer. For my classical piece, I will be performing the Queen of the Dryads variation from Don Quixote as selected for me by my amazing artistic director. (Clips from this variation can be seen in my video)
Costumes: $1,000 (yep.)
Airfare: $1,000 per person for a round trip
Hotel: $1,000 (about $150 per night for around 7 nights)
Food and other daily needs: $700 ($100/day)
Other expenses along the way: $300
This adds up to $5,000, so that is what I set my goal to be. Keep in mind that this goal includes myself only, and adding on family members like my mom, dad, or sister would be about another $2,000 per person. But for now, I would be more than grateful to get to the competition by myself. Throughout this summer I have been teaching a couple hours a week at my studio to make some money and during the year I’ll be teaching as well, but unfortunately due to the vigorous hours of my training (nearly 20 hours per week year-round), I don’t have much spare time to dedicate to working to save money on top of pushing myself academically in school (my current cumulative GPA is a 4.2). You may notice I’ll be putting the majority of my monthly paychecks from the studio into this campaign as well.
This competition means a chance to represent both my studio, Southern California Ballet, as well as the United States as a country, since I would be on the Cecchetti USA team at the competition. This competition could also be my “in” to the professional world, which is extremely important to me especially right now since I am entering my senior year of high school and will soon be moving on to college or, if I’m lucky, a professional company. This competition would help me greatly to get my name out just before I’m forced to jump the SCB nest and learn to fly on my own.
To anyone who considers donating, I thank you so much for your support. There is nothing that dance has taught me more than that the people who are willing to support you in life are those who you must cherish and never take for granted. Like in life, support in dance is something special, and I truly appreciate any support I am fortunate enough to receive from my friends and family, whether that support is financial or emotional.
A rare 2001 interview: Tsiskaridze cannot afford to flop
By Natalya Kolesova (Moscow News).
In Roland Petit’s new staging of the ballet “Queen of Spades” Hermann will be danced by the youngest People’s Artist of Russia.
Nikolai Tsiskaridze, the Bolshoi’s 27-year-old leading man, has already done “The Nutcracker,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Swan Lake,” “Romeo and Juliet,” several Balanchine ballets, and has been awarded every conceivable ballet prize.
What was your first meeting with Roland Petit like?
The first thing Petit did was ask to be shown a dancer whose name was Nikolai and whose surname was an absolute tongue twister. But the stage world has subtleties of its own. He was told that I had not come to the class, though every morning of the last nine seasons I could be found in Marina Semyonova’s class. He saw me accidentally when I was hurrying to get made up before a rehearsal of “Swan Lake” choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich, and asked why I didn’t attend classes. The misunderstanding soon cleared up. Petit watched the run-through, said flattering things to me, and after the rehearsal made up his mind to cast me as Hermann.
Are you happy with the rehearsals?
Unfortunately, I have had no experience of working directly with a ballet master - I have never yet had an original production done specially for me. With the exception of Goleizovsky’s “Narcissus,” I know no other movement style besides the classical. I don’t like talking about a work before it’s finished; the forthcoming production has already been hyped out of proportion, and should it flop, I’ll be the Aunt Sally.
What do you think about Petit’s idea of the old Duchess and Hermann bound by some sort of improper love-hate?
Its opponents must have forgotten Pushkin’s story and remember only the opera libretto. I’d advise all such censurers to reread Pushkin before attending the first night, preferably an annotated edition. Pushkin never wrote about any love between Liza and Hermann. “Queen of Spades” is an ironical piece; it is no accident that the story ends with that wonderful phrase about Liza getting married and taking in a poor relation to bring up. As for the Duchess-Hermann relationship, it is a confrontation, like with Carmen and Jose.
Petit originally staged “Queen of Spades” for Mikhail Baryshnikov who thought the “romance” between the Duchess and Hermann an un-Russian idea, and so the choreographer had to make concessions. Do you feel at all influenced by your predecessor?
Absolutely not. Before tackling a new part, I make a thorough background study, looking at notes, reading, but never copying. A copy would always be worse than something of your own. I can’t say I was aching to do “Queen of Spades.” I have always wanted to dance John Cranco’s “Eugene Onegin.” This is generally my favorite book. But the fates had other plans for me, so I am getting ready to perform Hermann. And a very good thing, too.
Roland Petit took an unconscionably long time choosing the female lead. He said that if Maya Plisetskaya were twenty years younger he wouldn’t think twice. So who will be your partner?
At the moment the part is being rehearsed by Ilze Liepa. Extremely interesting. The director wanted a personality, someone who would rivet attention.
What is it like to be a Bolshoi lead? As distinct from other companies?
The worst thing that can happen to one is to live in a time of change. I am sorry to say that my colleagues and I had the misfortune to do just that. The very notion of a Bolshoi artiste has been meaningless since the Soviet Union disintegrated. Our profession has gone down in status dramatically; we are trying to struggle, we insist on respect. In nine years we have seen six artistic directors, some of the newer ones don’t even know who’s who in the theatre, who’s worth what. Everything is going to the dogs, the company is getting poorer and poorer. Our demands go unheeded. I’d like to see some official ignore Maya Plisetskaya in her day, or Vladimir Vasilyev. For some reason, each new manager starts with the opera. Though the Bolshoi Theater is primarily known in the world as the Bolshoi Ballet. In foreign companies the mentality is different, and the forms of work are different. Everything is in the contract. And they get more money, naturally, and there are various privileges, and a chance to take out state loans guaranteed by your place of employment.
Do you often dance outside the Bolshoi company?
Typically, these are small tour teams formed for the sake of making some money, to keep you fed and clothed, to pay for a redecoration job at home, etc. Dancing in St. Pete is a delightful experience for me. I loathe dancing concert numbers, it’s a punishment. A full-size performance is easier.
You are an outgoing person, a good mixer, you do not shun television or social functions. Is it your natural style or a tiresome necessity?
Such things are conditioned by one’s family. My parents had me rather late in life, and I saw only grownups around me at home. My mother was a teacher of physics; all my relatives are university professors. Mother’s second cousin was Tengiz Abuladze, the brilliant Georgian film director who made “Penance.” Among the people who came to our place were quite a few A-list celebrities, both Georgian and Russian. It must have been the free and natural manner of conduct learned in childhood that formed my style. Still, I do not enjoy social functions. I hate shaving. I don’t give a damn how I look.
Even before a performance?
Ah, that is a sacred day. Imagine, I was titled Merited Artist of Russia at 23. I cannot afford to flop. I save energy for the performance, always take a nap in the daytime, go to St. Nicholas’ church round the corner, and pray for my loved ones. None of them are living, so there is no one to share with me my success. And my mother paid with her life to see me join the Bolshoi troupe. She fretted so that it drained her strength.
Wouldn’t you like to get beyond the Bolshoi?
I don’t intend to leave Moscow, I love this city. I am glad I am on good terms with the Mariinsky Theater. When I was rehearsing for the Mariinsky London tour, I spent countless nights on the train shuttling between Moscow and St. Pete, because I had to dance in Bolshoi productions here and rehearse over there.
What does a ballet dancer do in the rare spare time?
I read various books, depending on my mood, now Bulgakov, now Dostoyevsky. I collect fairy tales, my favorite is Andersen. I listen to music, both opera and pop, say, Maria Callas and Alla Pugacheva. Some people think I am crazy. But it is possible to like both, isn’t it?