Interviews - Jared, Arthur, Roger

International Artists create a World Class Tour!

August 23, 2019  |  By NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet

Only the Finest for Moscow Ballet and on the Streets of St Petersburg

Stunning St. Petersburg
Stunning St. Petersburg

Svetlana Bedmenko, Arthur Oliver and friend in St Petersburg Cafe
Svetlana Bedmenko, Arthur Oliver and friend in a St. Petersburg Cafe

Prima Ballerina Svetlana Bedmenko warming up at the Mariinsky Theatre
Prima Ballerina Svetlana Bedmenko warming up at the Mariinsky Theatre

Moscow Ballet Costume Designer Arthur Oliver travels to St. Petersburg annually overseeing the creation of his new costume designs for Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker and other ballets. This season he also saw the renowned Hermitage Museum, the glittering Theatres, and dined in cafes along the canal. Arthur was at the Mariinsky’s Le Corsair where he saw au courant Prima Ballerina Svetlana Bednemko perform, later touring the stage for quick selfies with her! He also attended rehearsal with American-born Ballet Star gone Russian Julian McKay. When asking Arthur what the citizens are wearing, he replied, “The Russians are very expressive in their clothes and really fashion forward. Everyone dresses! 0 sweatpants in sight.” In his 10th year visiting, Arthur says, “This city is the artistic capital of the world in Opera, Theatre, and Ballet!”

Moscow Ballet's 2019 Gift of Christmas Nutcracker Tour Poster

Dreaming up the New Moscow Ballet Tour Poster

Poster artist Jared Connor has been designing posters, album covers and more art for many years but never for a ballet company. In a quick interview, he shared that he designed a few shirts for some friends' dance studios but not specifically for ballet. So what inspired him on the poster for Moscow Ballet? He says, “I thought the pastel colors would help in not making any of the elements too overpowering.” Jared originally got into creating art through his love of record covers. But times have changed and now he is making more posters than covers and loves it all. “I have 2 beautiful daughters and a loving wife and I do it all for them and the love of art of all types,” he says.

Creating the Moscow Ballet poster was definitely a very cool experience and ranks high on the charts of his dream jobs. Jared is inspired by many artists. He says it would be hard to list them all but at the top of the list are old masters Dore, Van Mael and Caravaggio. When asked what inspires him, he responds, “I usually throw on a movie and just let it drone on in the background, It takes a long time (to create this style) but I tend to get in the zone and not notice it.” Thank you for your creation Jared!

Unfurling New Flying Creatures in the Great Russian Nutcracker

Moscow Ballet's peacock shows off its tail

Moscow Ballet's newest puppet: The Peacock

Great Russian Nutcracker features birds by South Africa's Roger Titley
Great Russian Nutcracker features birds by South Africa's Roger Titley

Internationally renowned puppeteer Roger Titley is known for the creation of animatronic creatures worldwide including designing the “flying” Dove of Peace puppet exclusively for Moscow Ballet. In 2018 the majestic Firebird was unveiled and this year audiences will see Roger’s stunning Peacock unfurl his beautiful, tall tail feathers in Act II’s Land of Peace and Harmony. Roger works from in Knysna, South Africa creating fantastic life-like and other worldly puppets and creatures.

Which bird or animal that you created for Moscow Ballet is your personal favorite?  

My favorite bird is the Dove of Peace. It was really good to know that these puppets would be used on stage where I could push the softness of the wings. Most of my birds need to be operated outdoors where wind can be a big problem. 

Making the Peacock's tail open up and stand up must have been challenging. How did you figure out how to do it?

I knew that I needed an umbrella action to open the peacock tail. I started by trying to adapt “off the shelf” umbrellas but soon discovered that these did not work. I had to design my own sturdy mechanism based on the umbrella design that would work in the half-round. This took quite a few attempts. I now appreciate just how ingenious and accurate the design of the umbrella mechanism is!

Does it take long to think of the idea for a new bird or to actually create the new bird?

I have made many birds during my career, some extremely realistic for film and documentary, some stylized like the ones I made for Moscow Ballet. So birds come quite easily to me. The challenge is to find the character and features of the particular bird that I am making. Those movements and looks that people will recognize as unique to this particular avian.

What is his next new project?

At the moment the team and I are preparing for a circus show in Germany where, rather than use real animals, they would like to represent animals using the puppets.

Thanks so much! My Pleasure, Roger

See them for yourself in the Gift of Christmas tour this year! Find a performance near you,