A raked (or inclined) theatre stage is built on an angle that slopes upward and away from the front the stage, away from the audience. It improves the view, supports the illusion and help make choreographic designs clear. Raked stages are nowadays usually with a rake of 5 degrees or less. There are far more common today in Europe, with its deep theatrical traditions in the Middle ages. Almost all American stages have flat floors, except the Philadelphia Academy of Music and a few Broadway productions f.e. the version of the musical Billy Elliot.
Visiting professional dancers have been known to experience vertigo when they first set foot on raked stages. Balance is completely different. It takes a good deal of adjustment during the first few days on a raked stage, especially when turning. Even the risk of injury increases by three times for dancers on raked stages.
You are an outstanding dancer and artist who is looking for new challenges. What inspires you?
I really believe in the art form of ballet and dance. Aesthetically, dramatically, physically, culturally it has so much to offer, so what drives me is the desire to tap into as much of its potential as possible and to share it with people, get others inspired from it and with that to appreciate it.
How dancers motivate themselves in the time of covid-19.
I’m creating a small series for my blog to give my favourite dancers the opportunity to talk about their experiences, motivation and daily routines nowadays. As you all know, it must be so tough for dancers to train hard every single day in isolation and stay in top shape, not knowing when the next performance is going to be.
Statement of Ksenia Ovsyanick, principal dancer with StaatsballetT Berlin
„I found that the biggest shock for me was that suddenly for us as artists the ground was taken out of under our feet. Without being able to perform we can not share our work, we can not inspire with our work the way we normally do anymore. And that desire to stay creative and relevant was my main motivation to look for all the new ways I could still be an artist. I jumped into every project I could think of.
From creating videos, collaborating with other dancers, composers, artists, singers, choreographers. It has really pushed me to develop in the directions I didn’t expect before. From learning to film, to edit, to create music and sound, to manage projects, collaborate in new and unexpected ways as a dancer or choreographer. It became incredibly important for me to search for and find ways to show how dance as an art form can be versatile and relevant and important to our culture.
I have to say eventually the training part also started catching up with me. And as the time went by, the harder it had become mentally to keep pushing myself. The biggest mental challenge was to realise that I cannot possibly keep the shape that I could have in the normal environment. Once I had accepted it though, it allowed me to look at it from a fresh perspective and realise I can choose to use this time differently. Rather than desperately trying to hang on to what I normally used to do and eventually give up completely for the lack of visible result, I can use this time to do things I didn’t have time for before. And I mean not only outside of ballet but also within. There are always areas of our technique that need improvement but we just don’t have time to prioritize working on it. Whether it is port de bras, feet, extension, arabesque, turns, alignment – now is a really good chance to zoom in on that particular area that you could improve.
By now there are so many online resources available to help with development of any area you want. You can follow classes of signature companies and dancers from around the world [i.e. go to Mariinsky classes to work on you port de bras, cuban classes to work on your turns and so on]. Im incredibly grateful to the ballet community for stepping up and offering so much support online! So I would say the key for me was to develop trust in myself that once back in full swing, with a bit of extra hard work we all will be able to get back all the stamina and strength and technique we hadn’t been able to practice in current environment. And meanwhile focus on developing specific areas of your techniques, that would allow you to be better dancer later. Plus focusing on that area also inevitably forces you to do some kind of training – as a result keeping your work and coordination going.
But as I said earlier, it is the lack of artistic output that became the most important question for me to resolve. And my way was exploring all the new ways I could bring dance to the audience. And it has become a very interesting year that got me to develop and push my abilities in the areas I didn’t think I could before. Im currently finishing working on a creation with Itzik Galili. The process we have started back in April, and hopefully coming to fruition shortly, but something that truly pushed my boundaries, my interpretive skills, learning to speak, to act and dance at the same time – completely out of comfort zone.
At Staatsballett we were lucky enough to get back on stage for 2 months at the end of August. It was a very special experience reminding all of us involved including the audience about the power of a live performance. The auditorium was only quarter full, audience seating with big gaps between each other, with feeling like they are alone there, yet these first shows back were emotionally charged on the stage and in auditorium more than ever. Inspiring, yet somewhere sad, but mostly genuinely happy to have that emotional connection through dance. The power we should make sure to remind the world the performing arts have!
I wish everyone out there in the dance field to stay strong, persistent and creative. Let’s make sure to remind the world that what we do is important and inspiring, so that as soon as opportunity allows performing world can thrive more than ever before!”
Born 1989 in Tihvin, Russia Nationality: British/Belarusian Berlin Staatsballett 2016 – today English National Ballet — 2008-2016
Open University BA (honours) Business and Economics studies 2011-2017 English National Ballet School 2005-2008 Belorussian State Ballet College 1999-2005
Outstanding classical performance, National Dance Award 2012 Benois de la Danse 2013 best female dancer nomination Prizewinner at the Beijing International Ballet Competition 2006 Prizewinner at the Prix de Lausanne 2007 Silver Medal at the International Ballet Competition in Harkov, Ukraine 2004
Principal ballerina with Staatsballett Berlin, russian-born Ksenia started her training in Belorussian State Ballet College, followed by winning a scholarship at Prix de Lausanne to come to English National Ballet School. Her career started with English National Ballet and over the years she performed on the stages around the world including: Opera National de Paris Palais Garner, Royal Opera House Muscat, Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Royal Albert Hall London, Buckingham Palace, participated in gala performances in China, Singapore, India, Russia, Chile Greece, Sweden, Spain, Italy, France, Denmark, Latvia, Belarus among others, as well as participated in Closing ceremony of Olympics in London 2012.
At the age of 20 she danced her first Giselle and was nominated for English National Ballet’s Emerging dancer award. In march 2012 Ksenia had a title role of Firebird choreographed on her in the world premiere of “Firebird” by George Williamson, which brought her the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for an outstanding performance.
In 2013 Ms Ovsyanick was nominated for “Prix Benois de la Danse” best female dancer award and in 2018 she won “Dance Open“ international Ballet Award in St. Petersburg.
Ksenia created roles together with current choreographers such as Nacho Duato, Liam Scarlett, George Williamson, Alexej Ratmansky, Itzik Galilli, Yabin Wang and performed ballets by Kenneth Macmillan, John Cranko, Jiri Kylian, George Balanchine, Serge Lifar and Wayne Eagling among others.
In 2016 she joined Staatsballett Berlin as Principal Ballerina, performing leading roles in Nacho Duato’s Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, the title role in ballet Erde created on her by Duato, as well as Rubies and Diamonds in Balanchine’s Jewels, Giselle, Onegin, Don Quixote, La Bayadere and others.
In season 2019/2020 also a Permanent Guest Principal Dancer with Polish National Ballet.