Thursday, August 20, 2015

Spotlight On...Kyra Robinov and Tibor Zonai

Name: Kyra Robinov and Tibor Zonai


TZ: Kecskemet, Hungary

KR: BA Tisch Film & TV; MFA Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program
TR: I’m an autodidactic composer and musician

Favorite Credits: 
KR: Being a mom. Producer/Host of "The Ballet Beat", a radio program that profiled personalities in the dance world. And, of course, working with Tibor on To Dance.

Why theater?: 
KR: It’s dramatic! It’s collaborative! It’s never dull.
TZ: Because the theater is a very intimate place where actors and the audience are very close to each other. There is a palpable magic during a good performance.

Tell us about TO DANCE - The Musical
KR: This show has been a long time in coming. But it’s been worth the wait. At first, we couldn’t get the rights from Mr. Panov. The the original composer left the project. After the Berlin Wall came down and Gorbachev brought Perestroika to the Soviet Union, TO DANCE lost much of its relevance. Now, with Putin bringing about a new cold war and anti-Semitism rampant around the globe, along with the ever timeless quest for freedom of artistic expression, the story is once again important. A new composer and the increased public interest in ballet has also infused our project with new energy. Tibor and I are so excited to be a part of the NY Fringe Festival, a true sign that our story still resonates today.
TZ: TO DANCE, set in Leningrad, Russia and NYC between the 1950‘s and 1970‘s, tells the story of Valery Panov, a Russian Jewish ballet dancer with the Kirov Ballet. Valery refuses to conform to the rigid restrictions of the USSR, so the power wants to bump him. TO DANCE illustrates Valery’s harrowing struggle for artistic freedom through a combination of comedy and drama, song and dance.

What inspired you to write TO DANCE - The Musical
KR: I have a Russian and a ballet background and when I was looking for a subject for my graduate musical theatre thesis, I had just finished reading Valery Panov’s autobiography. I was struck by the inherent drama in his life. The fact that here was a talented star who, because he wasn’t a quiet cog in a perfect machine and had his career destroyed as a result of this, I could see it all onstage ~ the conflict, the passion, the dancing, the humor and the Russian Ballet setting.
TZ: It was very honourable to work on a play which was inspired by a legendary contemporary artist. I was not very familiar with the ballet world before, so the challenge was particularly exciting because a new door opened for me during the work.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: 
KR: I love all kinds of theatre, opera, ballet. Especially personal stories that evoke intriguing characters and real situations. I’m inspired by anyone who dares to try to create something new.
TZ: I definitely prefer musicals. Music can bring magic into the air. I am inspired by every good idea which has an effect on my soul. A good singer can inspire me, too.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: 
KR: Bartlett Sher, Kelly O’Hara, Tony Yazbek, Misty Copeland.
TZ: My big dream would be to work with my favorite authors: Stephen Schwarz, Lynn Ahrens or Glenn Slater.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: 
KR: An American in Paris. The King and I. Skylight. Fun Home.
TZ: Of course To Dance The Musical!

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: 
KR: Annette Bening in "I LOVE MY LIFE"
TZ: Perhaps Greg Kinnear could play me, and it would be called "The Guy Who Came From Far Away"

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: 
TZ: The premiere of My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: 
KR: Wednesday matinees.

TZ: The Sopranos. I spent so many lie-awake nights with watching those episodes, one by one.

What’s up next?: 
KR: Something very different. Also, I’d like to complete the historical novel and travel memoir I’ve been writing.
TZ: I hope I can find a lyricist/librettist partner to make the English version of my musical, Victor Hugo's "The Man Who Laughs!"

For more on TO DANCE, visit