National Ballet soloist Jevgeni Grib stages his first major production

Jevgeni Grib, principal dancer of the Estonian National Opera and choreographer, directed and staged his first full-length ballet, "Ash White," to music by Edward Elgar and Gustav Holst. The production inspired by E. T. A. Hoffmann's "The Sandman" premieres at the Vanemuine Theater on October 14.

Siret Campbell, a librettist and dramaturge rarely seen on the Estonian ballet stage, composed an original libretto for Yevgeny Grib's "Ash White," who is the stage director and choreographer of the new production.

Jevgeni Grib, the principal dancer of the Estonian National Ballet, has previously staged the short, mythology-inspired, ballet "Metamorphoses." In "Ash White," Grib once again explores the profound themes of life, death and ultimate uncertainty. His new production is based on the 1815 short story "The Sandman" ("Der Sandmann") by E. T. A. Hoffmann, and is set to music by Edward Elgar and Gustav Holst.

Grib's adaptation retains themes that resonate with contemporary audiences: depression and anxiety, and all of their accompanying psychological aspects.

"Personality is made up of worries that have grown out of our past experiences. The dance language of 'Ash White' has seizures in it. These refer to memory images, which can be redeemed merely by a few words, moments, or music. We deal with our inner world in unique ways and sometimes it is necessary to survive through hard times, to reach a dead end with no escape. But there is always a way out," Grib explained the story.

The story of "Ash White" centers on Aale, whose father died in a fire when she was a child. When her firefighter boyfriend dies the same way years later, loneliness and traumatic memories pull Aale further and further from the outside world. The events unfold in a compelling black-and-white atmosphere where the living and the dead merge. The play raises the issue of whether it is possible to overcome childhood memories and anxieties that continue to haunt us in adulthood.

Risto Joost, music director and principal conductor of the Vanemuine Theater, had an idea to create a ballet with music by Gustav Holst and Edward Elgar. "The opportunity to perform with the Vanemuine Symphony Orchestra is a double blessing," Grib said. The production features Holst's "The Planets" and Elgar's "Enigma Variations."

The cast of "Ash White" includes Raminta Rudžionyte-Jordan, Caroline Maquignon, Yukiko Yanagi, Gus Upchurch, Bradley Howell, Benjamin Newman, Maria Engel, Georgia Toni Hyrkäs, Alexandra Heidi Foyen, Alexander Germain Drew, William Halton, Bleiddian Bazzard, Alain Divoux and Gerardo Avelar. Vocal soloists Maria Listra, Pauline Vähi and Grete Oolberg.

Jevgeni Grib's production team includes dramaturg Siret Campbell, music director Risto Joost, artist Kristjan Suits, costume designer Liisi Eesmaa and lighting designer Priidu Adlas (Estonian Drama Theater).


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Editor: Karmen Rebane, Kristina Kersa

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