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Swans on the South Bank.

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I am after information again, from anyone with a better memory than mine!! I expect readers will recall a South Bank show, some years ago, featuring Irek Mukhamedov's production of Swan Lake with - I think - the Polish Ballet. I remember writing to the producers at the time, saying how much I enjoyed the programme but was told that the ballet was not available as an entire recording. I remember the excerpts being stunning, Irek's choreography was beautiful as was the ballerina. It was all pared down to the story, the music and wonderful dancing, not in a minimalist way, but without all the clutter and over the topness of other productions.  I would love to see it again somehow, and to know the name of the ballerina. Can anyone help with this? Thanks in advance. 

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I've looked through my old videos and found a South Bank Show on Irek Mukhamedov, transmitted in January 2003. There is a segment on a  Swan Lake Act IV pas de deux that Irek choreographed for Polish Ballet. However only this one pas de deux is shown (in rehearsal and in performance).  If this the excerpt you're referring to, the dancers were Irina Surniewa and Slawomir Wozniak.


Edited to add that, despite the name of Irina Surniewa appearing in the credits at the end of the programme, it produces no results in a google search.

Edited by Bluebird
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Thank you Bluebird. It is the programme I was referring to!  As you say, the ballerina's name produces no google results. I tried it as soon as I read your reply, before you edited it!  I also tried the Polish National Ballet website but again, nothing.  I am intrigued now. She must be somewhere!


Meunier, I wonder, having seen the production in Warsaw, does the  name Irina Surniewa mean anything to you?

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I’ve done a little more research and have discovered that Slawomir Woźniak has a wife called Irena who used to dance with him at the Warsaw National Opera House. Maybe  Surniewa  is her maiden name?  Her first name could just have been misspelled in the credits.  They are both on the faculty of the Master Ballet Academy in Phoenix, Arizona.


On the other hand, the dancer in the South Bank Show has dark hair and according to the picture on Irena Woźniak’s biography, she has blond hair.  She could,of course, have changed her hair colour. Maybe Meunier knows the dancers and can provide further information?


Here are their biographies from the website of the Master Ballet Academy:



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Irena is a Polish name.

Irina is a Russian name. And the surname sounds Russian - Irina Surneva (this would be the traditional Latin transcription of her Russian name).


I remember that Irina Surneva used to be the Principal ballerina of the Imperial Russian Ballet headed by Gediminas Taranda.

It looks that she was dancing very recently. Here is a clip of her performance at the 

“Ballet gala: Stars Only” on 11 February 2012:


Irina Surneva & Andrey Pyatakha - Feeling you
Choreography: Andrey Pyatakha . Music: John Williams "Shindler's list"


This website presents her as the Honoured Artist of Russia and informs that she runs a dance studio attached to the Kharkov (Kharkiv, Ukraine) State Opera and Ballet Theatre: http://vk.com/club30147268

On all photos she has dark hair: http://www.surneva.ru/


Quite a lot about her can be found by googling - Irina Surneva:


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Just wanted to note that I know three Russians who are called Irena and they pronounce it Ir -eh -na and not Ir - ee- na, so I don't think it's just their spelling. 


I think, Dance*is*life, we are right here with both pronunciation and spelling of Irina Surneva's name.


The name Irena is popular in Poland. Among numerous Irenas one can recall the wonderful Irena Sendler (Sendlerowa, 1910–2008), the Polish resistance worker who saved Jewish children during the Nazi occupation.


But! Millions of Russian women are called Irina (pronounced EEREÉNa). Among them some famous ones: Grand Duchess Irina Romanov (Yussupov by marriage), mezzo-soprano Irina Arkhipova, poet Irina Ratushinskaya, three times Olympic champion figure skater Irina Rodnina, ballerinas Irina Baronova, Irina Kolpakova, Irina Kolesnikova, Irina Dvorovenko, many  Russian actresses, etc. Trust me, neither of them is called ‘Irehna’.


It can happen that some Russian parents might choose to call their baby girl a la polonaise Irena but I haven’t met one yet. However, I know a Russian lady Irina in London who prefers to introduce herself as Irena, which is easier for foreigners to grasp. Nothing wrong is here of course. She remains Ireena among the Russians.

Edited for typo.

Edited by Amelia
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