|Evan McKie, Principal at the Stuttgart Ballet (Germany)
June 20th. 2012 : meeting Evan McKie
On the occasion of Stuttgart Ballet’s Japan Tour
2012 in early June, Principal dancer Evan McKie kindly accepted our
interview. Mr. McKie danced Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake (Cranko) in Tokyo and Ohtsu during the tour, and he will come back to Japan to guest as the title role in Onegin with the Tokyo Ballet in September. Since we couldn’t have time to meet, this interview was made by e-mail.
Evan McKie in Sleeping Beauty
<Q1> First of all, congratulations on the huge success of Swan Lake. Beautiful performances. I think this is the first time that Cranko’s is presented in Japan. How often does the company perform Swan Lake?
(Evan McKie: ) Thank you. I was very happy to
present my interpretation of Cranko's Siegfried to Japan. This Siegfried
is rich choreographically and has extra storytelling possibilities. We
perform this ballet every 3-4 years and it was my first leading role at
Stuttgart Ballet when I was a demi-soloist.
<Q2> Cranko’s is very dark and hopelessly
tragic. But I was really drawn into the drama. Cranko centered Prince
Siegfried, even Odette/Odile seemed set aside, and it is like a
psychological story of Prince Siegfried. All is revolving around him. He
dies at the end, but the audience doesn’t know if Odette is in love with
him. It’s totally mysterious. What do you think of Prince Siegfried, the
relation with Odette, and Cranko's Swan Lake?
I believe the Cranko version focuses on how
Odette and Siegfried's love is doomed because that makes this fairy-tale
more realistic and even more heartbreaking for an audience. It is
definitely not a sweet and happy ending. I think the audience knows that
Odette loves Siegfried but she is also painfully aware of the
circumstances that prevent them from being together for too long. This
makes their love (and her character) heartbreakingly fragile. The
moments that they share onstage become more precious...they don't want
to let go of each other even though they both know that the
circumstances are unconventional and even dangerous.
<Q3> When was the first time you took this role? Do you think it’s a challenging role?
I first danced Siegfried in about 2004 or 2005 I think. What I love is
being true to the Russian origins of the physical technique of the
ballet while having the chance to be a bit more 'human' in the bits that
Cranko added. The Prince is in all four acts and dances alot. I really
felt it was important to not play to the audience as much as the Prince
might in other versions. For me, that takes away from the
"introspective" characteristic that is the basis for this role in
Cranko's version. This ballet deserves an enormous amount of respect and
nuance. It is not just a "show". My teacher, the late, Pyotr Pestov
used to say Swan Lake can either
be the most effectively beautiful ballet or the least effective ballet
in classical repertoire depending on the quality of who dances it. I
really enjoyed dancing this role.
<Q4> Have you ever danced Prince Siegfried in another version? If not, are you interested in?
I have not but I will soon. I would like to perform the adagio solo in
Nureyev's version so much. Other versions from Ek and Bourne are
probably wonderful to experience too.
Evan McKie in Onegin
<Q5> Now the company is currently touring
Japan after four years. As you know, Japan had the Fukushima nuclear
power plant accident caused by the earthquake and tsunami last year. I
imagine that there should have been some conflicts or struggles to go on
the tour. How did the company decide? What did you think of coming to
I knew I would come from the beginning. Life is
too short to worry too much especially when I heard from fans that they
really 'needed' art in their lives more than ever. Reid (Anderson)
organized a meeting with the whole company and a scientist who
specializes in nuclear disasters and their aftermath. People were not
forced to come on tour but instead they were educated about the reality
of what to expect. A few months later, here we all are in Japan
confirming Stuttgart Ballet's unique relationship with your country.
<Q6> Also, during your stay, we’ve been
actually having several earthquakes, some were not small. It’s too often
for us in fact. But I’m worrying how everybody in the company is doing?
Are you OK?
I am not worried.
<Q7> Let me ask you about yourself. You
joined Stuttgart Ballet in the season 2002/03 as a Corps de Ballet after a
year of apprenticeship and were promoted Principal in 2009/10. Do you
think it was fast or you were ready?
All of my roles happened as a natural
progression. When I was young I was already very hungry to tackle the
bigger parts and do them my way. I fantasized about how I could make
certain roles come alive.
<Q8> Did you participate in the Japan tour of 2005 when Manuel Legris guested in Onegin in Tokyo? What about the tour in 2002?
I participated with Manuel, yes. I was understudy
for Lensky then and dancing Paris in Romeo and Juliet. Manuel was
especially helpful and kind to me on that tour.
<Q9> How many times have you come to Japan?
<Q10> Do you have any favourite place or area in Japan?
Omotesando in Tokyo because it is quiet and
elegant. Once we went to a fantastic restaurant there but i forget what
it was called. I'm still trying to find it again! I like Kyoto too and
always find new places in Shibuya, Tokyo. I went to a place in Shibuya
that doesn't have a name but is represented by a picture of just a white
bear. It was cozy.
<Q11> I have read somewhere that you like photographing. Do you still take photos? I would love to see them.
I take them all the time. I do mostly abstract
portraits and will have my second exhibit within the next year,
hopefully. I would actually like to compile a book soon.
<Q12> Do you cook?
Yes! But I also eat out ALOT.
<Q13> You are tall and have beautiful line. Are your parents also tall and have beautiful line?
My brother and father are both tall and lean. My mother is cute like a button!
<Q14> You will come back to Japan to guest with the Tokyo Ballet in September, and it’s Onegin.
You have answered in the last Dansomanie interview that Onegin is one
of your favourite roles. About your guest appearance with the Tokyo
Ballet, NBS confirmed that there was a strong recommendation of Mr. Reid
Anderson. Did you hear about that?
That means so much to me because he has seen
every Onegin in the world... a couple of which are very good! Also, it
is a grand gesture to allow me to leave the company in Stuttgart so
often for guesting opportunities in this role and others. I have missed
some great chances in Stuttgart because I felt it was so important to
dance for other audiences too. There is a delicate balance.
Evan McKie in Le Poème de l'extase
<Q15> This will be the first time to work with the Tokyo Ballet. Are you excited?
It will be my first time performing with a
Japanese company and with a Japanese ballerina. I have a very good
feeling about it. My Lensky will be Marijn Rademaker which was not
planned but ended up being an added bonus. We have our own chemistry and
both share a common respect for our roles and for our Japanese
<Q16> When do you start rehearsing?
During the World Ballet Festival.
<Q17> Japanese ballet fans are looking
forward to seeing your Onegin. Dansomanie readers all know about your
sensational success in Paris last December. Do you recall those days in
All the time. I talk with Aurélie and other
friends there often. It's funny because Myriam and Joshua were my Olga
and Lensky and they have since been promoted to Etoile! They were so
sweet with me. That company and audience embraced me with such love and
respect that is not always common for them. The experience was such a
test of spirit given the time constraint though. But Reid Anderson
believed in me tremendously and Brigitte Lefèvre took a huge leap by
actually requesting that Aurélie and I do the opening night after so
little rehearsal. She and Reid are both such risk-takers. I love that.
<Q18> The last question. Let me ask you
about the next season. Do you already know which ballet you will be in?
Which is that you are most excited? And any guest appearance scheduled
besides Onegin with the Tokyo Ballet? Galas?
Some lovely galas, yes. But I will continue my
relationship with the National Ballet of Canada and also perform in
South Korea again as a guest artist. I will be with Stuttgart ballet in
Moscow, Shanghai and Beijing too. I’m also very excited that one of my
main supporters, Marcia Haydee, has invited me to dance Paquita with her
own company in Chile. Other exciting things are in the works but not
finalized yet. It's funny because I have no idea what I will be dancing
in my home of Stuttgart yet! But I always love to be surprised! My whole
career has been marked with spontaneity.
Evan McKie - Interview by Mizuko Hirokawa
Interview done via e-mail on June 20th. 2012 - Evan McKie © 2012, Dansomanie