Alexander Daev is the ballet master for the Moscow Festival Ballet, one of the world’s premier touring ballet companies. The company will perform “Romeo and Juliet” at the RiverCenter’s Bill Heard Theatre on Saturday.
As ballet master, Daev sets up the group’s rehearsal schedule, makes sure the choreography works and coaches dancers in new roles. He also plays the role of Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin.
“Romeo and Juliet” is based on the William Shakespeare play about two teenagers from feuding families who meet and fall in love. The music is by Tchaikovsky.
This company has been together since 1989, when artistic director Sergei Radchenko defected from the Bolshoi Ballet, where he was a star.
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Daev has been with the company for 10 years.
Right now, there are 34 dancers on tour. Most are Russian, but there are a few from Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine and Japan.
The company is scheduled for 200 performances this year. Daev says it’s a good thing the dancers love to travel.
“We love being on the road. We are used to traveling. We have a great American team. America is a beautiful country. American people appreciate and love the ballet. We are warmly received everywhere we go.”
The only downside to so much travel, Daev said, is limited baggage.
“We dress in layers as we change climates frequently. We come with less and enjoy shopping, so we return to Russia with more luggage.”
To stay in shape, the dancers take part in classes and rehearsals for three to four hours every day and avoid eating fattening food.
Instead of stopping at the various fast-food eateries across the country, the dancers frequent grocery stores and buy “good food.”
“We eat lots of fruit, and Russians love soup,” Daev said.
Daev’s favorite role is Basil in “Don Quixote,” which is his favorite ballet.
His favorite phrase in English is “Don’t worry, be happy.”