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Evan McKie, Principal at the Stuttgart Ballet (Germany)

japanese translation  日本語の翻訳

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.

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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.

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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 Japan?

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?

Not enough!

<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.

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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 fan-circle.

<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 Paris sometimes?

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
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