Theatre | A Festival of Russian Ballet | Ken Longworth

CLASS ACT: Sergey Kheylik, one of the stars of the Imperial Russian Ballet Company, will perform in Newcastle next month.
CLASS ACT: Sergey Kheylik, one of the stars of the Imperial Russian Ballet Company, will perform in Newcastle next month.

WHEN Sergey Kheylik was a child in the Russian city Voronezh he had a passion for popular singers, especially Michael Jackson. But, when he was 10, his mother enrolled him, against his will, in ballet classes.

Why did she do that?

“To keep me off the streets,” he said, with a laugh.

So it’s not surprising that while Kheylik has won many awards for his ballet prowess and worked with ballet companies around the world he is still a fan of rock music. He made his first visit to Australia in 2010, as a member of the show Rock the Ballet, staged by Bad Boys of Dance, with a fusion of classic ballet technique, musical theatre, hip hop, and acrobatics, performed to the music of Michael Jackson, Queen, U2, Prince, Coldplay and other pop singers.

Kheylik has mainly performed with classical ballet companies around the world, and, with his on- and off-stage partner, Irena Gharibyan, is one of the 40 dancers and support staff who will tour Australia in October and November in the Imperial Russian Ballet Company’s A Festival of Russian Ballet, with Newcastle’s Civic Theatre as their first venue on October 4.

While the dance routines in the show are largely from classical ballets, Kheylik and Gharibyan perform two duets for which he has done the choreography. One is a four-minute dance he developed called Runaway, which uses contemporary electronic dance music, with the segment aimed at younger audience members. It’s about young people running away from society. The other is from the classical ballet, Le Corsaire, and has a dashing young pirate wooing a beautiful woman he has encountered on an island. It is a 10-minute piece.

The two routines are part of the show’s third act, which features highlights from ballets including Giselle and Swan Lake and lively numbers such as Can Can Surprise. Act I has routines from Don Quixote, in which the title character travels around Spain seeking adventure and romance, and Act II is Bolero, with music composer Maurice Ravel wrote at the request of a Russian ballerina for a dance work looking at people’s attempts to move from darkness to light. 

While Sergey Kheylik began his dance career as a teenager with a Korean ballet company and has been a guest performer with ballet companies around the world, he and Irena Gharibyan live in Los Angeles. He teaches ballet master classes and is co-director of a Las Vegas-based company, Electric Contemporary Ballet. He has also danced in Las Vegas with a Cirque du Soleil company there.

The Civic Theatre Festival of Russian Ballet performance on October 4 is at 8pm. Ticket prices range from $61.20 to $96.85. Bookings: 4929 1977.