John Cranko became acquainted with Alexander Pushkin’s verse-novel Eugene Onegin when he choreographed the dances for Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky’s opera of the same name in 1952. He created his own distinctive version of Pushkin’s work in 1965 for the Stuttgart Ballet. Onegin displays all of Cranko’s genius as a narrative choreographer – within a tight dramatic structure, Cranko creates finely drawn characters who are changed by the conflicts that they face.
Onegin and Tatiana’s relationship is depicted in intense duets, such as the letter-writing scene, when the youthful Tatiana dances a dream pas de deux with her longed-for lover. The role of Tatiana offers a ballerina many challenges – the development of a bookish country girl into a sophisticated woman at the pinnacle of St Petersburg society requires dramatic sensibility and technical finesse. Cranko’s choreography incorporates an eclectic range of dance forms, including folk, modern, ballroom and acrobatic, and is accompanied by Kurt-Heinz Stolze’s soaring arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s music.
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