Which childhood dreams have you turned into reality?
I am not sure I have dreamt about anything in childhood. The only thing I have been dreaming is to work in the theatre. It has come true. Yes, I don’t work in a concrete theatre at present time, I am connected with theatrical art – that has been implemented.
If to look back to the past, is there anything you would like to change? And do you actually look back?
The trouble is that I am looking back more and more not because of getting older, but because of the fact you usually look back to the past by two reasons. The first one is for realizing what you have achieved, what you have come to in the professional field. The second is personal life, certainly.
I don’t even know if there are things I want to change, because it would mean I regret for something in my life, but this is not true. That’s why looking back is not an effort to change something, but to reconsider your past and this reconsideration must help to move forward.
You are a creative person, but at the same time, it might be said, a businessman.
How many percent of creativity and how many percent of business grasp do you have?
Before the creative part has been prevailing, but with time, I think, I have become more prudent and careful. It doesn’t mean I’ve stopped risking, but I’ve started treating things I work under more deliberately, more thoughtfully, prudently and, maybe, more rationally.
Plus, I’ve become in this sense more a businessman, than a creative person as you say.
Although a balance should be in business I do. I have been always aiming to this balance. If there is no balance, it’s always hard to keep the proper reference-points – you can be carried away by creativity and totally forget that it should have financial support and on the contrary you can be so addicted to finances for not even noticing that you are doing hack-work. Everything is connected with the experience we gain. At first you work for reputation, then the reputation works for you.
Success recipe from Sergei Danilian.
I doubt if there is any success recipe. The only thing I have always supposed that you need to love what you do, to do it honestly and sincerely and to give all of you one hundred percent. There is no place for halfway approach. If I do something I am always doing it the way not to be ashamed of it.
That’s why I am not ashamed of 25-year work in America, of the success we’ve achieved. But at the same time, it would be wrong to rest on success, because it leads nowhere.
It’s a road to stagnation. You need to be self-critical, it can help to find new possibilities for realization of your ideas. When somebody tells he is not interested in what other people think or that he never reads the reviews, he surely dissembles. Of course, everyone is interested in what others think. But what you want to extract from it, that’s important. I have always tried to extract the most useful and important things from everything I do, to move forward. That’s why it’s always significant for me what all they think – artists, creative team, technical team, partners, businessmen, even my family.
You’ve achieved a lot in USA. Do you have a wish to come back to your roots, to the place where you’ve started – to your home and your mother?
I am often coming back, I spend a lot of time in Russia for many reasons. Mostly it’s connected with that my mother is here, and her health is not that perfect. But also, I am watching, I am watching many things that happen not only in the dance world. I saturate myself with those important spiritual senses – Russia is so rich about them.
What is your main quality?
Faithfulness it was until recently. And for quite some time now it is my love towards close people and responsibility, and this also doesn’t exclude faithfulness.
You are proud of?
It would be egoistic to say – I am proud of going away to America, without emigrating from Russia and getting that success. I would not achieve all this if not the people I still have been working with, if not the family who has been always supporting me even if I have made mistakes.
If to speak globally, I am proud of my children, that they are all so different and in spite of their age they are on the way towards realizing their dreams. It seems to me, today is the time when they have possibility to achieve something they have ever dreamt of but couldn’t manage because of the circumstances.
Your state of mind and soul at the moment?
The big interesting season is coming – with Mariinsky Theatre, La Scala, Mikhailovsky Theatre, Bolshoi Theatre and the Royal Ballet from London. That’s why when I am looking forward, I am very excited and inspired. It raises the tonus, it gives forces and a chance to feel that you still can do your work at a high level.
Mother Amalia Danilian
He had a good childhood. He was a very inquisitive child, showing the organizing abilities from the school time. He graduated the music school under the piano and accordion specialization. He was an excellent pupil. When he finished the 10th grade, we moved to Yerevan for he could enter engineering (poly-technique) university. He passed the exams perfectly but still wasn’t happy. He didn’t want to be an engineer! But wanted to devote his life to the Art. He said – “I don’t want to lose five years. I will bring the diploma to you and I will go studying the things I want – from the beginning.” His father didn’t want to agree. But I told – “Fine. If there is such a desire, he will obtain everything in the profession he wants.”
Then he had been serving in the army for two years. He came back and prepared to exams without attending lectures. Even us, we didn’t know about it. He came and said – “I’ve sent the documents to GITIS. I am waiting for their reply.” The reply arrived and after a week he was ready to leave. Sergei has achieved everything in life with his mind and diligence.
This day I would love to wish him the main things – health, wellbeing in his work and family life. I love him so much. What does a mother want? She always wants that quietness for her son, for he is able to cope with the most difficult missions and goals. He is clever. He has never depended from anybody. And I believe there is a lot of interesting things waiting for him in his life!
General Director of the Bolshoi Theatre
The time runs promptly. A few decades passed by, but it seems to me as it was yesterday, and a student from the GITIS production department Sergei Danilian came to the Theatre Union, where I worked. We were holding the Student Theatre Festival and Sereja started trying his forces to practice.
Today Sergei Danilian is the man who carried out many wonderful projects. Sergei Danilian is the recognized master. The word “producer” is often mentioned by people who don’t have connection with it, but Sergei Danilian is the real producer in the modern world. He is not only an organizer of numerous tours, for me Sergei is interesting first of all as a man who carried out a big line of art projects – starting from the idea to the final implementation and release. Today we can confidently say, Sergei is the producer.
I am sending my sincere congratulation on his anniversary wishing many many new interesting things in the theatre field to be created with Sergei’s talent and organizing abilities.
Artistic Director of St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet
I know Sergei Danilian for more than twenty years. I remember how we have been starting our partnership. How we travelled along the USA, trying to organize the first American tour for our company. I think, those assays have pulled us together and built the basics for our good professional and personal friendship, that has been lasting to the present day.
In 1998 Sergei and Gayane Danilian organized our theatre’s visit to New York. It was the first time when the name of the Eifman Ballet sounded loudly over the American audience. After this triumphal and historical tour, the new period of company’s life has begun. We started to perform at the prestigious stages in New York, LA, Chicago, Boston, Toronto and other cities of USA and Canada. Owing to the partnership with Ardani Artists for last years the theatre has performed 15 premieres in North America and conquered the devoted audience from the local ballet lovers. Certainly, the Sergei’s highest professionalism, his special energy and pure love for dance let the American audience discover that modern choreographic Russian art created by our theatre.
From all my heart I congratulate Sergei with his anniversary. I would like to wish him wellbeing, endless creative power, health and success in carrying out that noble important mission – to present and popularize abroad the varieties of Russian ballet at the highest level.
Prima ballerina with the Mariinsky Theatre, the founder and art director of the festival CONTEXT
I am grateful to my destiny that has connected us at our common artistic path!
Remembering our first meeting in 1996: The Divine Award at the Bolshoi Theatre stage – the Award that you had founded. And I was its first owner, absolutely unexpectedly for me.
Soon our acquaintance has turned into partnership and then into friendship. When I realized that I also wanted creative development outside the theatre walls, we started to discuss the ideas for solo projects. That’s how Beauty in Motion, Dialogues, and then On the Edge appeared. We made together these projects and they would always stay as bright occasions in the history of dance, which were highly appreciated with the professional awards and people’s love.
We put our heart and soul into every program. I have been always admiring your talent to unite artists, choreographers, composers and designers.
I am very grateful to you for you have never told “no, this is impossible” to my ideas and proposals. I have always appreciated it highly. Being an impresario, a manager, you have never lost humanity, delicacy, responsiveness, always staying on the same wave with an artist, surrounding him with attention and support, trying to embody his creative impulses and thoughts. It was always important for you to make a dancer feel himself special, to guard his inspiration and power, because we always had given a lot of work and energy to our projects. You risked together with us, because nobody could forecast either the project would get success among the audience or not, but you were always confident in the right way you’d chosen and came through it with us till the end. I am grateful for your braveness.
I have grown up with our projects professionally and personally. They gave me discoveries and even revelations in dance. I hope our creative tandem has also left a noticeable trace in ballet history.
I am wishing you never to stop, to find new talents among dancers and choreographers. To continue this inner lighting of the artists, giving them a push for development, a possibility for aplomb, and to feel themselves and their abilities deeper and wider.
Sergei, please stay my associate, the manner you are always with me.
We got acquainted with Sergei when he invited me to create the costumes for Mauro Bigonzetti’s ballet called Cinque. First time we met each other in Rome, choreographer’s home city. That was Sergei who discovered to me The Eternal City, who showed it to me from the unknown side, who made me fall in love with Rome. After Italy, we had a meeting in LA, where rehearsals took place, and in California after long talks and reflections I had an insight in an ordinary café – I sketched on a tissue those leather tutus, that would become famous in future.
After Cinque Sergei invited me to work under the Kings of Dance. One day I flew to New York where the costumes were produced by my sketches. And again, Sergei showed me the city from unexpected perspective. That was cool!
Finally, the recent experience is wonderful ballet called The Dreamers, the premiere took place in Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.
I really like in Sergei his skill to load people with his ideas and to transfer for them a part of his wild energy. At the same time, I am happy that he trusts me as to an artist, that’s why it is a great pleasure to work with him. He is a very creative person who looks at the world with the fresh clear eyes and who can see the beauty in details. This is valuable.
Principal of the Vaganova Ballet Academy
We got acquainted in 1990s when the Ardani Artist had been just creating. Lots of bright memories have been collected for this time, starting from the Kings of Dance and continuing with other projects. Many ideas for the Kings we discussed with Sergei and his wife Gayane. I have always admired Sergei’s professionalism, his ability to listen and to hear and to embody the things he hears into practice.
I appreciate his professional qualities – the way how keeping his professional interest (and the real producer can’t deal without it) he manages to create wonderful projects, putting in the new breath into the promotion of ballet art.
I appreciate his personal qualities… The Caucasus connects us. And in spite of we have grown up in different parts of it, we often hear each other without saying a word.
I wish him health and strengths. Otherwise the rest is senseless.
General Director of the Bakhrushin State Museum
Our Alma Mater is GITIS – the university of theatrical art under the name of A. Lunacharsky. Sergei’s professional formation was going in front of our classmates’ eyes. He started in legendary Lenkom, and to be accepted to the theatre meant the same as to get to the premiere league at that time. Then Sergei left for freelance, and chose one of the most difficult roads – to be a freelance producer. Owing to his creative braveness and producer’s talent the young troupe of the New Opera under the guidance of Evgeny Kolobov performed in Carnegie Hall in New York in 1994, I was a director of the theatre that time.
Sergei Danilian possesses all the necessary set of professional theatre figure qualities – from the wide and thorough education in performing arts to the firm business grasp. He brilliantly masters the technology of theatre business, he is a reliable partner and the most important is that he loves theatre people.
I think the anniversary will not influence Sergei, he has not a danger of star disease above him. Sereja, I sincerely wish you health, the same creative agitation and successful realization of your new projects that you create so talentedly.
The Director of St.Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music & Diaghilev P.S. Festival
Sergei is a professional, he knows theatre not from the shining facade, but from inside. He knows the theatre history, the theatre management. Of course, many people know these things, but Sergei has brilliant abilities, that let him to be a great producer – among them, intuition, care, passion. Sergei is brave, but not desperate. For personal features he is very reliable, a man of word and it is very important! He will never promise if he can’t do it.
And one more important quality, Sergei is generous.
I wish Sergei on his anniversary “Keep moving”!
It is hard to believe that Sergei Danilian who is rushing, burning with energy and gushing with the ideas is turning 60. This soviet man is totally self-made in a manner of natural born American. He made himself and the Ardani Artists, the agency that held such powerful international projects as the King of the Dance series, the exclusive benefit performances of Diana Vishneva, charming girls’ party called Reflections, American triumphs of Boris Eifman and many others. I wish lots of remarkable things ahead, I wish politics would not prevent art, and the sponsors would stand in a line and the best artists would dream to get under the safe wing of Ardani Artists.
Principal Guest Artist and Choreographer
Sergei and I have had several projects together. The first one was Kings of the Dance, which year after year, he tried to make the show more creative and different than the time before. He would give us a platform not to only be dancers but choreographers, musicians and friends who support each other. There is nothing that artists need more!
His professionalism is undeniable and when you see the product on stage, it makes you emotional because you see all the work he had to do to make that show happen. I applaud his quest for continuing to search for art to be presented in different places after all these years.
I wish him a very happy Anniversary and thank you for giving me a voice to express myself in so many different ways as a person and artist.
Vice president of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts
When I first saw Boris Eifman’s Red Giselle, I knew at once that we should bring his company to the Center. I called Sergei and told him I was determined to present the Eifman Ballet on our stage and to set a time and date to meet with Boris.
From the upstairs lobby at Segerstrom Hall, I recall watching three gentlemen walking down Town Center Drive in front of our hall — It was Sergei, Boris, and their production manager. They loved our stage of course, so we made a quick deal. And thus, started our long relationship.
Sergei has been a great partner to Segerstrom Center on many dance projects over the years. There are no others like Sergei — he is unique in the world of dance, almost like the impresarios of an earlier era. We at the Center congratulate him on his anniversary — applaud his passion for dance and his amazing ideas and concepts. We are so proud of all of our collaborations with him, and we wish him continued success always. A toast to our partner in this special anniversary!
Theatre critic, journalist, Sergei Danilian’s classmate
1980, Moscow Olympic Games, but we, the entrants to the theatre studies GITIS department have our own Olympic Games – we are rushing, knowing that thirty persons pretend on one position. And there are only fifteen positions. There are crowds of alike boys and girls, desperate and exited, in the university corridors, but suddenly medium high, well physically built guy wearing striped shirt appears at the door way. It was first impression!
The guy caught everyone’s eye on him – he weared this T-shirt, that was telling about his recent serving in the army – he attracted with his calmness, carefulness, he looked like walking through the thin ice. The ordinary Moscow boys and girl, we didn’t know that was the way to walk for people who faced their dreams. We became classmates.
Sergei was four years older than me, we had only the school behind while he had the whole life, where a wish to be occupied with the Theatre was formed as a goal and personal need. He went to the theatre every evening trying to catch up, he swallowed books, he was mad about talks and discussions. He lived in student hostel sharing room with four people – we often came there, it was interesting and much more cheerful than in Moscow flats. After the second grade Sergei surprised us – he left for the parallel newly created production department. Afterwards there were lots of such turns, and we were not surprised anymore – even after he moved to America. That’s his style – not to be scared of starting from the beginning, to risk and then see how it goes. He is a rare visionary.
A rare one because he can embody his fantasies. He has changed a striped T-shirt to the expensive costumes, the Californian tan suites him much, as the popularity and success do, but for me he is always that Moscow student. And when I meet him, recently more often, I tell him – “You are still the same!” And theses are not the cliché words for the old friends, this is true. Sergei is young, that’s why he hasn’t lost the ability to be surprised. He is never a monologue, he still consists of the variety of questions, and he is looking for the answers. He is full with the ideas, plans, dreams and they will all come true. It can’t be another way.
Writer, journalist, musicologist
I’ve had a great success to be your and Gaya’s friend for more than thirty years! It is owing to you the colorful world of the St. Petersburg ballet was opened for me, for the Russian historian living in New York, in all its splendor and variety!
I was a witness for Boris Eifman (who was from my native Leningrad Conservatory) triumph in New York. This unforgettable success was directed by You, Sergei!
Owing to you, I saw the Kings of the Dance – Nikolai Tsiskaridze, Denis Matvienko, Ivan Vasiliev, I got acquainted with new interesting choreographers – Vladimir Varnava and Maxim Petrov. These were unforgettable meetings and emotions.
Thank you for this, Impresario! Long live!
Prima ballerina with the Bolshoi Theatre
We got acquainted with Sergei seventeen years ago, during my first tour with the Bolshoi in America. But I have a feeling, I have known him for all my life. Later Sergei invited me to participate in Reflections project. That was fascinating work, I always remember it with warmth. Sergei is one of the people you always find with the common themes. It’s easy to work with him, because he knows how it must be, he builds the clear goals. It is obvious with half-a-word for the professionals. Besides his professional qualities, Sergei always manages to create special warm home-like atmosphere during the work period. All the dancers are surrounded with attention and care. And, of course, I want to wish Sergei on this festive day strong health, inspiration, and success for all his new projects.
It’s nice to remember our acquaintance in Mariinsky, and then it has been obvious that you are a brave man, who is able to see and to accept a lot before the others do. The time when I haven’t even joined the ballet world you have already influenced the changings of the landscape and you are continuing to do it.
Thank you for trust, for generosity, for support often to be father-like.
Thank you for friendship.
Wishing you love and peace at home and to intersect more often with the people close to your soul and creativity.
With my open heart, Vladimir Varnava.
Ballet critic, writer
Sergei is the person of the historical value, also for the Russian ballet history of the end of XXth – beginning of XXIst centuries. He has no equals in the Impresario’s league. I always wait anxiously for his projects. I simply admire and love him tenderly – he is a chevalier, brave, honest, generous. He enjoys the life so fully. But the most important that he is real. I wish all of us to see what he is dreaming about and planning on his anniversary.
Editor-in-chief, La Personne Ballet Magazine
Sergei is like a magician, he gives people the possibility for realization and self-expression. It’s not that simple to earn his attention, he is a great professional and he demands the same from the people he works with. Watching Sergei during the working process, you get stroke by the sparks in his eyes, by the flame he is burning with in his projects.
I suppose it to be a huge luck to work with Sergei, it is always a fascinating journey, wise advices and lots of creativity.
I wish Sergei to burn brighter, to inspire and to be inspired and to create new fantastic projects, that will strike the audience’s imagination.
Alisa and La Personne Team!
Creators: Alisa Asalnova, Karina Zhitkova, Ekaterina Bornovitskaya, Diana Klochko & Nika Kostina.
Special thanks to Marina Rinaldi for dress.