1., 2., 4., 7. … 19., 1562. cast staged for productions of The Czech National Ballet in Praha
These numbers do not indicate different levels of quality – on the contrary, they confirm that the quality is always guaranteed – it is unchangeable and has reached the highest possible level. With every single production.
Every production of the Czech National Ballet is staged in several casts – each leading role as well as each minor part is performed by more than one dancer. What does that mean exactly?
From various interviews with Alexey Afanasiev, ballet master of the Czech National Ballet.
During the preparations of the premiere of a new ballet a cast is created by the choreographer or ballet masters. For the main roles there are usually three different casts, sometimes four. All of the dancers involved rehearse their roles attentively so that they master it both technically and artistically. Such preparations take two months or even less and so the authors of the piece concentrate mainly on the casts that they designated as first and second. The third, fourth (whatever the number) casts also take part in the rehearsals and try to do their best.
After the opening nights where the first and second casts excel there comes a time for the ballet masters who begin to devote themselves to the supporting dancers. They work hard with them so that they are fully prepared to perform their roles and offer a flawless interpretation once the first and second casts did their job during the premiere nights. This means that the casts designated as third and fourth appear on stage later, not during the opening series. However, they must be fully trained and ready to “steal the show” later.
The following season when the production is still on, the artistic director does not designate the casts as first, second or third anymore and so there is no given hierarchy of the dancers. Thus, the casting of the roles depends on the overall programme of the company and aims at retaining the highest quality of all the shows in repertoire.