Decades ago Viki Bromberg Psihoyos learned directly from George Balanchine and now teaches the technique to ballet dancers herself. After her career as a dancer, Viki studied journalism and was also a part of the documentary film team. As she says, it’s almost a full circle and now she is back in ballet and growing. The most exciting for her in Ballet Summer School Estonia is to see improvement of dancers. She enjoys the crossing of ideas as participants from different countries enrich each other.
It is your second time here in Ballet Summer School Estonia. What brings you back?
Last year was a success and I loved it. When I was leaving I told I would hope to come back. Sergei Upkin, artistic director, and Galina Rohumaa, CEO, seemed to be very happy with me. They are both professionals and so there are many things we don’t need to discuss. We know the work, we know how to behave in studio, we know the courtesy, respect each other. And we share it with participants.
Also, I love being around here. People in the United States ask me where Estonia is, I am happy to explain and introduce the history. It is a wonderful spirit here and I love the story about the singing revolution. The country used art, singing songs! There’s a feeling of art everywhere.
Have you noticed any changes in that one year?
The main difference I see, the course has grown and more countries participate. We have Cuba, Australia, Japan, and of course Northern America, Europe, Russia. It is like the United Nations getting together. They are learning from each other several things on how to be a dancer. It is a wonderful cross of ideas.
Just this morning I was on the phone talking about the program with a teacher from Chicago. People get more and more interested in it. And this opera house! And the gala! Every school has a final show but this in the opera house with costumes and lighting and everything is a higher level! It is a very special opportunity here. Only in large cities like New York or Paris you can find something like that.
On the other hand, getting ready for performance in three weeks is a kind of mission of possible. How do you do it?
Well, I do as Balanchine would do. He uses what he has. It is like you are going to your kitchen wanting to make something to eat and you use what you have.
It is a great comparison!
We always talk about food because dancers are always enjoying food J
Now you know participants already better. Who will get on the stage?
This is challenging. I can be prepared so much that I decide what they are wearing, what music I use, but I don’t know the dancers. We had an audition on the first day and everything changed. I watched them in the class and they looked okay. Then I tried some steps on them but not everyone gets it. They come from different training. Maybe they just don’t understand me, or they are accustomed to work slowly and I work quickly.
But today I had this beautiful French dancer and she said goodbye. This is rare. She was my lead ballerina. I loved watching her move. She made her choice. And for me, I even can’t go to my room and cry. We make a show here! This is the first week but towards the end, it will go crazy because of the performance. There will be changes, but professionalism really counts here.
Will the gala be successful?
Of course! It gets very exciting towards the end and energy gets crazy as we get close to the performance. I make sure that they are able to do it, and challenging them, but not ridiculously. We are doing what is reasonable, step by step. I am flexible.
What are your expectations for the summer school as a whole?
I have already seen improvements, in a few days. This is fun. They are young and curious. And those who really listen and watch and try steps in the back, I see from day to day the improvement. That is very exciting for me. When they go home, their teacher will see they are holding their back and, wow, they can do three turns now! And they feel good and proud when they come back home.
What I love about this program – it has students all around the world. As a teacher, I find very interesting to see different ways of moving. They have learned what they have been told by their teacher, or what they have not been told. I am here to help them improve.
How have been your days in Estonia?
It’s magnificent. I live here in Opera Guesthouse, beautiful view! After rehearsals, I go out to eat in some wonderful restaurant. I love the cuisine here! It’s a kind of Neo Nordic thing. I don’t like a heavy meal. I don’t eat meat, but I love fish. I have had wonderful and interesting chefs’ ideas around.
What is your next stop?
Since I speak French, I go to teach in Paris in October. I like to travel. I came to Estonia through Stockholm and spent three days there. So when I got here I had no jetlag and got to work right away.