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Everything posted by Duck

  1. As someone who also writes about performances outside the UK, I can only echo this view. While discussions about these performances tend to be limited as - in all likelihood - not that many other forum members will have seen the same performance or run, I definitely sense that the interest in what is happening elsewhere is there.
  2. As I moved between countries a few times, the below list is hugely influenced by company’s repertoires at the time e.g., works that were last shown at the Royal Opera House before 2006, I will in all likelihood not have seen; the same principle applies to other locations. I am thus coming from a perspective of “works that are something special” rather than works that have already been lost/ are running the risk of being lost. I am avoiding a discussion as to which choreographers are more important than others and am thus keeping all nominations to a maximum of 5 works per choreographer. MacMillan – Romeo & Juliet, Mayerling, Concerto, Song of the Earth, Requiem, Gloria Cranko – Romeo & Juliet, Onegin, Initials R.M.B.E., Brouillards, Concerto for Flute & Harp Robbins – Dances at a Gathering, The Concert, Glass Pieces, En Sol Ashton – Rhapsody, Monotones I/II Balanchine – Jewels, Symphony in C, The Four Temperaments Tetley – Sacre du Printemps, Voluntaries Bintley – Carmina Burana, Still Life at the Penguin Café Forsythe – In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Herman Schmerman Duet Bausch – Sacre du Printemps Jooss – The Green Table Scholz – Air!, The Creation Petit – L’Arlesienne Bejart – Bolero, Songs of a Wayfarer, 9th Symphony, Le Presbytere, Seven Greek Dances Lander – Etudes Kylian – Falling Angels, Sinfonietta van Manen – Kammerballett Childs – Four Elements Bruce – Rooster Neumeier - Nijinsky As for those works that should be revived on a regular basis … many more.
  3. Profoundly sad news. Sincere condolences to family, friends, moderators & others who mourn him.
  4. Thanks, Sim, I think your post sums it up perfectly! All in all, the season was superb; my hope for upcoming seasons would be to spread out the "highs" right across the season rather than basically covering it all in the space of 6-8 weeks ...
  5. A late addition to this thread as the season here has only just ended. It was very much a season in two halves, with Sep 2018 through to March 2019 encompassing all the lows & “so-sos” as well as works that were fine, except for two works that I’ve put into the list of highs. So the list of highs in chronological order Stuttgart Ballet, Triple bill “Shades of White” – Cranko/ Concerto for Flute & Harp, Balanchine/ Symphony in C … musicality, serenity, joy & exuberance Keersmaker – a video screening of an extract from Fase … this was a completely unexpected bonus as I went to a Long Night of Minimal Music, didn’t expect any dance to be on the programme, and much to my surprise & delight, it did include this video Stuttgart Ballet – Triple bill “Break-through”: Clug/ Patterns in ¾ … creative, funny, great music Stuttgart Ballet – Triple bill “Breath-taking”: Galili/ Hikarizatto, Inger/ Out of Breath, Khan/ Kaash … energetic, thought-provoking, inducing a trance-like status, and moreover a triple bill that I really enjoyed from start to finish Stuttgart Ballet – Young Choreographer’s Evening: Roach/ Demon Days … hilariously funny & completely over the top The Royal Ballet – a cinema sceening of Pite’s Flight Pattern … utterly moving & compelling Colours International Dance Festival in Stuttgart with so much to offer, in particular Maguy Marin – May B … unlike anything that I’ve ever seen before & profoundly moving Ballet BC – Sharon Eyal/ Bedroom Folk … energetic & hypnotising Akram Khan – Outwitting the Devil – thought provoking, a fantastic cast with a standout performance by Dominique Petit. Furthermore, having the world premiere of a work by Akram Khan in Stuttgart, I mean ... John Cranko School – Annual Performances: Scholz/ Air!, Scholz/ Extracts from The Creation … musicality, liveliness, poetry, emotions. The performance of all students on stage, but in particular seeing Gabriel Figueredo perform live … unbelievable Stuttgart Ballet – ballet talks with Juergen Rose in relation to MacMillan’s Mayerling, and in particular seeing a number of costumes, hats and helmets in close up … Rose’s attention to detail is simply awe inspiring
  6. Magnificent second ballet talk with Juergen Rose about MacMillan’s Mayerling this morning. While the first talk back in May covered a number of topics e.g., MacMillan’s choreographic style, the music and the set & costume design, this second event dealt specifically with the costumes for Mayerling. From the 198 costumes for the ballet in total, around 20/25 costumes, 10 hats for the female characters and 10 hats/ helmets for the male characters as well as a number of costume drawings were on display. Rose referred to some of the items to detail aspects of sourcing the fabric, the millinery, the medals, the ornaments as well as the production of the costumes and medals. A few medals and items of cloth were passed round the audience so they could touch and feel them for themselves, and the audience was also able to see and study the costumes, hats and helmets on display up close at the end of the event. Rose’s initial thought had been to go with just black and white for all costumes but then decided to add other shades so as to help the audience distinguish between the various characters. Based on everything that I’ve seen so far, the colour scheme still remains predominantly black / white/ shades of grey/ shades of red though, plus shades of green for the hunting party. Almost all of the 198 costumes are different, even if they are seen on stage for only a short period of time, such as those for the ballroom scene at the start of Act 1. The costumes shown included ballroom dresses from the beginning of Act 1, the white jacket for Rudolph and the formal white dress for Stephanie in Act 1, the dress for Elisabeth in the PDD with Rudolph in Act 1, the hunting party in Act 3, the red coat and black nightdress underneath for Mary in Act 3, a dress for Sophie, etc. The amount of work that Rose and the costume department at the State Theatre in Stuttgart have put into research, sourcing and production is immense, and the level of detail achieved is awe inspiring. Glittering little stones and borders applied on fabric; pleated fabric that create beautiful effects of light and shadow; costumes with a variety of lace, frills, ornamental trimmings, etc. Medals printed with a 3-D device so they look like the real thing but are light enough for dancing. Medals with specific details, depending on whether they are worn by a character from Austria or from Hungary, etc. etc. etc. When I first read a number of months ago that there’d be new costumes for the performances of Mayerling by Stuttgart Ballet, I asked myself why this was necessary, why they wouldn’t just go with the original designs. The outcome, however, is hugely impressive. The event was filmed, and I hope that it or parts thereof will be made available at some stage. Ideally though, I’d love to see a DVD or book with the costumes as they are just so stunning. This ballet talk was also the final event of the current season for me. A wonderful add-on followed immediately afterwards, meeting jmb again following our initial meeting a little more than a week ago, and being able to discuss once more all things ballet as well as a number of other topics.
  7. Mid to end of July sees the annual performances by the John Cranko School. I saw the performance on 14 July from within the Opera House and on 21 July as part of Ballet in the Park. It was great to catch up with Yumiko again following yesterday’s performance – until next year, or earlier. Some of the works shown had also been presented last year, and were now being performed by a different cast. Air! by Uwe Scholz, George Balanchine’s Glinka Pas de Trois and Stephen Shropshire’s Lamento della Ninfa. Air! – I just love the jubilant and uplifting atmosphere and was very happy to see this piece again. Lots of arabesques, jetes and movements in canon; 2 serene PDD in the middle that included similar movements at different times without being in canon; a bouncy male quartet that was in perfect sync; interaction between male and female dancers that came with some gentle flirting; the full cast coming together again for the finale, displaying friendship and individuality within the group. A wonderful performance all around. Two pieces showcased the technical skills of the younger students, Viva Vivaldi by Stefania Sansavini/ Valentina Falcini and Extract from Najade and the Fisher by Jules Perrot. In particular with regards to Viva Vivaldi which was performed by classes 1 - 3 of the Lower School, it was heartening to see the intense focus of these youngest dancers and their visible joy when things went well (and it did). Full-scale contemporary with Todos os ais Sao Meus by Catarina Antunes Moreira, performed by graduating student Motomi Kiyota. He is equally and utterly at home in classical (Glinka PdT) as well as in contemporary works. I admire his virtuosity, his smile, his charismatic stage presence, it all looks so effortless. I will miss him dearly. Graduating students also for Extracts from The Creation by Uwe Scholz, as part of which Gabriel Figueredo performed a long solo. The skill, artistry and poetry of his dancing made me cry yesterday, it was so serene, emotional and beautiful. What a performance. There was a bit of a murmur of appreciation going through the audience when he appeared for his solo as part of Extracts from Etudes last Sunday (not something that I’ve come across in the past three years for anyone else during Extracts from Etudes). Lots and lots of appreciation for him yesterday at the curtain calls for Extracts from The Creation, he received a massive ovation, and I guess I’ve seen curtain calls for company dancers that didn’t come with as much of an ovation as that for Gabriel Figueredo yesterday. I feel so incredibly lucky to see him join the company next season. As every year, the performance closed with Extracts from Etudes by the school’s Director, Tadeusz Matacz, bringing on stage students of all age groups. Standouts in terms of dancers for this year were – no surprise – Gabriel Figueredo and Motomi Kiyota, it was a pleasure following them through the years since I first saw them in 2016, Alexander Smith with his performances in both Air! & Extracts from The Creation as well as Irene Yang and Danil Zinovyev, both with 2 more years to go until graduation, and already performing with the Academy/ Upper School in soloist roles (Irene Yang in the Glinka PdT, full of delicacy and poetry; Danil Zinovyev in Air! – both assured and dancing without any discernible difference in terms of technical skills in my - non-expert - eyes). There was one very clear standout in terms of choreography with Tabitha Dombroski, another graduating student, who contributed 3 (!) works to this year’s annual performances – Test Run, Meditative State and Cut the World. Test Run, a large-scale work for students of classes 5 and 6 (the two most senior years of the Lower School) – soft flowing contemporary movements with a classical basis and some acro here and there (cartwheels/ walkovers); Meditative State for two male dancers of the Academy/ Upper School – a recorded voice provides guidance with regards to entering such meditative state followed by music and some more voice/ music, I’ve taken the choreography as depicting what happens within someone who is in the process of entering said state; Cut the World to music by Anthony and the Johnsons, a solo for another graduating student who is wondering “when will [he] turn and cut the world”. Wow, what a choreographic talent, three works, three different styles, number of dancers, musical choices, all soft, fluid, contemplative, the kind of contemporary that I like most. Sonia Santiago, who hosted also this event in the park, interviewed her during the interval, and Tabitha Dombroski explained that it had been her contemporary teacher back in New Zealand who encouraged her to start choreographing, that her application by video to the John Cranko School came with a video of one of her choreographies, and that she has already created 10 works on graduating students that have since been performed in a number of countries around the world, including competitions. I do hope to see her back in Stuttgart soon, maybe as part of the Young Choreographer’s Evenings and/ or the annual school performance next year. The programme booklet lists the companies that the graduates have engagements with, without providing a breakdown by student or stating which of these are apprentice/ corps etc. contracts. This year’s graduates join Stuttgart Ballet (Gabriel Figueredo - corps de ballet, 5 other students as apprentice), Ballet Dortmund (googling the graduate’s names, I found 2 of them with Dortmund), The Hungarian National Ballet (3), The Estonian National Ballet, Northern Ballet (I’ve seen from a post about Northern Ballet on the forum that this is Alessandra Bramante), The Royal Ballet Fehervar and The Czech National Ballet. In addition to the contracts mentioned in the programme book, Tabitha Dombroski mentioned during the interview with Sonia Santiago that she had a contract with a company in Switzerland and a number of (choreographic?) projects lined up.
  8. Shades of White was back for two more performances. I saw Saturday’s performance as part of Ballet in the Park, which took place for the 13th time. In complete contrast to last year when I got thoroughly drenched, the weather was brilliant; it was warm, dry and slightly overcast hence no risk of sunburn. In addition to being free of charge, the audience in the park benefitted – as usual - from interviews with some of those involved in the performance. Tamas Detrich reflected on his first season as Artistic Director, which he had chosen to start with Shades of White before moving on to more modern works later in the season, this as a clear statement that Stuttgart Ballet is a classical company that looks into the future. Sonia Santiago, former Principal with the company and seasoned host of the events in the park, explained the structure and production of a practice tutu. Angelina Zuccarini, Soloist with the company, was interviewed about pointe shoes. The live screening came with 11 cameras in the Opera House, including from above the stage, allowing the audience in the park to see the various choreographic patterns for the dancers. Concerto for Flute and Harp had the camera often show the full cast and zoom in on individuals for their solos. I guess this is a work that I prefer to see from within the building as this allows me to make my own choice as to who I focus on from among the corps. The close ups were great, however, to show the dancer’s smiles. Contrary to expectation, I enjoyed The Kingdom of the Shades more than at the end of last year, and I found that this work really benefitted from full-stage views. I found Elisa Badenes and Adhonay Soares da Silva technically and artistically well matched as the two leads, and Soares da Silva performed a round of double tours en l’air that looked rather effortless in my (non-expert) view. Diana Ionescu, who has just been promoted to demi soloist for the start of next season, was very much fleet of foot in the first variation. The shades passed the wobble test with flying colours. I am still not overly keen on the work but, all in all, liked it more than the first time round. Symphony in C just fabulous, I was still humming the music the following morning, and I think this work is now becoming one of those that I’d like to see more often. Too much white tutu, a question that I had asked myself earlier in the season. Yes, I think, a little, or maybe this is just down to me having seen lots of contemporary work over the last month.
  9. World premiere of Akram Khan’s new work Outwitting the Devil on Saturday night. I had bought a ticket for Sunday, was then approached by a friend with a spare ticket for Saturday, and so had the privilege of seeing this extraordinary work twice. Outwitting the Devil took its inspiration from a fragment of the Epic of Gilgamesh and comes with a cast of six dancers. Gilgamesh is performed by two dancers – young Gilgamesh who domesticates and enters into a friendship with Enkidu, their killing of Humbaba, guardian of the Cedar Forest and the destruction of said forest, and old Gilgamesh who is haunted by the memories of his actions when he was younger. One dancer represents the Cedar Forest/ the creatures therein, another one a goddess-like person who turns her anger towards Gilgamesh over what he did. Choreography and sound design depict the domestication of Enkidu beautifully – a recorded voice reads aloud the names of a number of animals that live in the forest (tiger, panther, falcon, elephant, frog, spider, owl, etc.), and Enkidu, still the creature of the forest, performs shapes that represent these animals. Young Gilgamesh gets closer, Enkidu evades but is finally caught (assertion of power over someone throughout the piece through holding someone tight by gripping their ankle or pushing their head down). The voiceover then turns to saying the word “man” a number of times and with increasing speed. He is laid away by young Gilgamesh … he has become domesticated. They travel to the Cedar Forest and encounter Humbaba who is guardian of the forest. His attempts to protect the forest ultimately fail and he is killed (the neck takes prominence). Events turn against young Gilgamesh - the goddess is angry, some more voiceover of names of animals, and Enkidu is killed, too (the neck takes prominence again). Old Gilgamesh is on stage at the same time as all these events are shown – he is reliving his memories, and he is haunted by them. Haunting is shown through a variety of means. At the start, he is cradling a flab of stone or baked clay in the shape of a tree/ person. He stands/ moves in the midst of the other dancers or watches from the side. He is scared, frightened, his hands protecting his head, cowering on the floor, retreating to the side of the stage, he moves tentatively, his upper body bent forward, his facial expression matching his body language. A flab of stone/ baked clay is put on his shoulders at the very end, which I’ve taken as him carrying the burden of his past activities also going forward. In a very strong cast that was well matched to the roles (e.g., young Gilgamesh tall and strong, old Gilgamesh smaller and older, the goddess tall and imposing, the forest slender and hugely expressive), I found Dominique Petit in the role of old Gilgamesh phenomenal – his acting, his body language, his facial expressions those of a frail elderly man who is continuously haunted by his memories. Audio, set and lighting were well suited, too. The music gloomy & threatening, the sound of an axe, recordings of extracts of the tablet that was the basis for this work (right at the start: old Gilgamesh having the same dream night after night, showing him with an axe, unaware of what he would turn into in old age; towards the end: his confession, him remembering their cries, their open mouths when he destroyed the forest), the set in grey throughout with flabs of stone or baked clay on all three sides of the stage, the lighting in line with that gloomy atmosphere while ensuring that there was sufficient light to see what was happening on stage. The 80 minutes that the work takes flew by, it didn’t feel half as long, such was the power of the story that was told (dramaturg: Ruth Little), the performance by the dancers, the music as well as the visual and lighting design. I think the piece is special to me because it all came together as one. I guess it’s the kind of work that takes time to take it all in, and so the applause started relatively slowly but then turned into immense cheers, standing ovation, foot stamping, rhythmic clapping; the audience didn’t want to let go. Fabulous post-show talk on Sunday with Akram Khan, too. He came across as incredibly humble, thoughtful and open. Very happy to have had the chance to be there for both nights. Trailer on the public Facebook site of the Festival https://www.facebook.com/coloursdancefestival/?fref=mentions&__tn__=K-R List of dancers on Akram Khan’s company public Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzxp5-lDhGi/
  10. Ballet BC at the Theaterhaus last night for a triple bill with works by Sharon Eyal, Emily Molnar and Crystal Pite. Sharon Eyal: Bedroom Folk. No bed in sight for the bedroom folk but the back of the stage (in a warm orange glow) and the costumes (black leotards with flesh-coloured shoulder areas that made them look strapless for the women & black men’s high-waist tights with shoulder straps) made me think of a stylish bedroom-like environment. The music by Ori Lichtik electronic with thumping sounds, keyboards, fast, continuous, relentless. The dancing follows suit, fast, continuous, relentless. I found two aspects of the choreography fascinating - how the movements followed the speed/ drive of the music and how tiny variations in the size and direction of dancer’s steps created ever-changing patterns on stage. An equal number of female and male dancers standing close together, performing fast tiny steps almost on the spot, just a little bit on demi pointe, knees slightly bent, their upper body and arms performing a variety movements in unison. Small variations in these steps and their directions, and suddenly the dancers are in a single line next to each other. Some more tiny variations, and men and women face each other in that line, their movements mirroring each other. Even more tiny variations, and the single line changes into three lines of dancers or into a semi-circle. Back into a group, everyone in a deep grand plie this time, and some more variations … and all this while continuously performing said tiny steps and various movements with their upper bodies and arms. Individuals emerge with short solos and they get back into the group. Halfway through the piece, a black curtain at the back closes, lighting changes to a wide circular shaft of light within which the dancers move. One dancer is isolated in the centre and integrated back into the group. Back to orange glow for the stage and movements similar those at the start. The piece ends with an endless series of small degages to either side, dancers again standing very close to each other. I loved the choreography, fitting the music so well and admired the dancer’s coordination throughout the piece, making the changes in pattern look completely effortless. The audience reacted with lots of whistling and exuberant cheers, foot stamping in the row I was in and rhythmic clapping. Emily Molnar: To This Day. Dancers in a variety of block colours, everyone dressed differently. The music (Jimi Hendrix, Booker T. Jones Jr.) influences the movements – lots of sliding across the stage, some rolling on the floor, lots of body twisting. In complete contrast to the first piece, the majority of dancing is done in solos. More often than not, even if a number of dancers are on stage at the same time, each dancer has their own choreography. There was a funny part towards the end of the piece – a male dancer moves rather frantically and drops to the floor in happy surprise when he realises that a female dancer has been watching him. He gets back up quickly and continues his moves. In doing so, he gets closer but does not have the courage to start interacting with her and withdraws in sadness. She then takes the initiative and makes contact. This work was less my cup of tea than the first piece in terms of choreography and music but as the curtain calls went on, an increasing number of audience members showed their appreciation through a standing ovation. The aspect that I have taken away though (my own reading, I don't know whether this was intended by Molnar or not) is the singularity of every individual – they are all dressed differently, they move differently and at different times – everyone is special and unique in this world. Crystal Pite: Solo Echo. Change in atmosphere again. Poetic, melancholic, calm. Set to 2 Cello Sonatas by Brahms and inspired by the poem Lines for Winter by Mark Strand. Dancers in black clothes. Snow is falling on stage throughout the piece (there were actual small white particles falling from the top onto the stage). The first half of this work with several PDD, quiet passion, longing, yearning, togetherness, loving. The second half then turns to a different kind of longing – that following loss through (again, my reading) death. A male dancer drops to the floor, he is lifted high as in a funeral procession and laid down on the floor. A female dancer is lifted up and lowered down to him, she reaching out with both hands towards him and yet not reaching him. This motif of a women lifted and lowered down to a man lying on the floor is repeated later on. The group falls apart, there is some aggression emerging, they get back together again, more yearning (beautiful wave-live ripples through a single line of dancers here). All male dancers lie on the floor, a female dancer looks after each of them, and they start to move again. Yearning turning to acceptance as towards the end of Strand’s poem? I found this piece and Strand's poem utterly moving and thought-provoking through its melancholic atmosphere. Full standing ovation as far as I could see. Now looking forward to Akram Khan’s Outwitting the Devil at the weekend.
  11. Thank so much, Sim. If you are able to travel to Stuttgart (flight connections are fine) and chosen the date of the performance, feel free to message me, with a bit of luck I'll be there, too - it'd be wonderful to say hello and express my thanks for the forum in person.
  12. Back at the Theaterhaus last night for Maguy Marin’s May B. This was unlike anything that I’d ever seen before, magnificent, deeply moving and unique. I was devouring reviews of previous performances on the way back home and came across a review by Judith Mackrell of a performance in Enniskillen in 2015 https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2015/jul/28/maguy-marin-may-b-review-beckett. Her article describes far better than I’d ever be able to do the events/ atmosphere on stage and the precise links to specific works by Samuel Beckett. A community in isolation, searching and waiting for something that is unknown and that will not come, carrying the few belongings that they have left in small old suitcases or bags. The stained worn old outer clothes that they put on towards to the end makes it clear that they have been in this situation for a considerable period of time. The individuals are at times isolated within and, at other times, consoling each other & making the best out of the situation. The change in music was telling to depict these changes. An extract from Schubert’s Winterreise at the start (Leiermann/ Hurdy-Gurdy Man - everyone shuffling along), the community finding a brief relief within their apocalyptic environment every time marching music starts to play, another extract from Schubert’s Winterreise at the very end (about the love of someone who has left or disappeared - a sole and lonely man on stage), and in particular Gavin Bryar’s song Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet which was played in a loop for the best of 20 minutes towards the end (shuffling along, carrying their few belongings, wearing their stained worn outer clothes, and after every time the group exits the stage, a diminishing number of them returns … until just said sole and lonely man is the last remaining person). Kudos to the stamina of the performers, staying in character throughout (and there is precious little time for them off stage) and including the curtain calls e.g. a women who had one of her shoulders pulled up to her ear from start to finish, another one who was standing, shuffling, etc. with her upper body bent forward throughout the performance. It may be because it’s only been a few days since I saw Crystal Pite’s Flight Pattern, but I see both groups in a similar situation – isolated and with no way out, the individuals at times consoling each other but without much effect, bound together as a group, moving along with nowhere to go. As the sole and lonely man stated at the end: Fini, c’est fini, ca va finir, ca va peut-etre finir. Magnificent, deeply moving and unique. Very different but definitely very high up in my list of highs this season. In relation to other performances @ Ian Macmillan – thank you so much for the link yesterday to the review on Seeing Dance of Stephen Shropshire’s We Are Nowhere Else But Here – I had this piece on my shortlist and ultimately went for Stuttgart Ballet’s triple bill Breath-taking that evening. @ Sabine0308, coming back to your earlier post – I had a look through the programme schedule, not everything is sold out at the moment so you may be lucky if you are able to travel to Stuttgart at short notice. If you are specifically looking at Gauthier Dance, there’ll be further performances of Classy Classics in October (cf. the Theaterhaus web site rather than that of the current festival).
  13. Thanks so much, bridiem and Jan. @ bridiem - Kaash has also been performed by the Royal Ballet of Flanders. There is a note in the programme book that the work was adapted/ extended for the Belgium company in 2017 (to account for the higher number of dancers I think) and that Akram Khan was planning further adaptations of the piece for Stuttgart Ballet. I haven't seen Kaash with either Khan's company or the Royal Ballet of Flanders so can't tell how much has changed. In terms of dancing style, are you able to tell from the brief extract in the preview in the link above whether there are any differences in style (or is the extract just too short to tell?)? @ Jan - there'll be further performances of this triple bill next season https://www.stuttgart-ballet.de/schedule/calendar/2019-07/breath-taking/51/ There was a direct flight from Manchester to Stuttgart a few years ago, not sure whether this still exists. From my own experience when I was living in Merseyside, travelling to Stuttgart wasn't particularly straightforward.
  14. Gauthier Dance on Saturday night at the Colours International Dance Festival, the Royal Ballet on Sunday afternoon in a cinema broadcast, and to start the weekend, Stuttgart Ballet in a new triple bill “Breath-taking” last Friday evening (ballet & dance events like busses … a bit of a wait followed by three at once?) with works by Itzik Galili, Johan Inger and Akram Khan. Itzik Galili: Hikarizatto was created for the company in 2004. Galili was inspired by the movement of people that he saw when he was in Tokyo – lots of fast movements within constrained spaces and with a mix of light and shadow. The piece thus comes with striking light design that makes the stage resemble a chess board. The dancers perform within light shafts, and when they quickly move to another imagined square on the stage, the light moves there within a split second, too. The remainder of the stage is dark as night. Sometimes the appearance of a new light shaft drives the change of the dancer’s positions on stage whereas at other times, the dancers moving across the stage will drive where the light will go to next. Initially just one female, then one male dancer, followed by several female/ male duos and groups of male & female dancers, further solos, etc. Dancing comes with e.g., female dancers on pointe, high extensions, balances and wriggling bodies in PDDs as well as some group sections that reminded me of some simple centre exercises. All this to fast percussion music, requiring meticulous timing and coordination between musicians, dancers and light technicians. Rhythmic, pulsating, break taking, wow. The ovations didn’t seem to end for this first piece of the evening, even the musicians applauded the dancers, and the light design with its shifting light shafts continued for the curtain calls. Johan Inger: Out of Breath, an addition to the company’s repertoire, and quite a change in atmosphere from Hikarizatto. This piece took its inspiration from the medical complications that occurred during the birth of a child of Johan Inger. And so the centre piece on stage is a curved wall that symbolises the edge between life and death/ that represents life’s challenges and struggles. Even though this is an abstract piece, aspects of events and relationships can be seen. Female dancers in ballet flats now. Some dancers on stage are on their own. A female dancer runs around the wall a number of times until she is held up by a male dancer. There’s a couple that is in a quite passionate state of their relationship. A male dancer tries hard several times to climb the wall and fails every time. The piece ends as a male dancer helps a female dancer reach the top of the wall – has she reached her aim, or is she now truly at the edge of things? This piece was received enthusiastically, too, and in particular the solo violinist received massive ovations. Akram Khan: Kaash, another addition to the company’s repertoire, making Stuttgart Ballet the first company in Germany that performs a work by Akram Khan. The percussion music is played live, supplemented by recorded samples of syllables. Movements switch between fast and slow and between edgy and soft (e.g., arms shaping a flower). Repeatedly lunges to the side with arms swinging from side to side, turns in parallel. Dancers are barefoot and wear long wide black skirts over black trousers, male dancers with bare torsos. At the start, Friedemann Vogel stands still, his back facing the audience, in the midst of the dancers, before he joins in. The work ends with a prolonged solo in complete silence by Vogel. His back is again towards the audience, and he twists and turns his fingers, arms, shoulders, upper body in all possible directions. Statuesque and, it seemed, making every single muscle fibre visible as and when these were activated by his ever-changing twists and turns. Statuesque and spectacular, the whole piece inducing a trance-like atmosphere. Great dancing, superb music played live. Luckily, this programme will feature next season, too. Much looking forward to seeing this triple bill again (just wondering currently how many performances I might look to attend). A preview with extracts of the three works here https://www.ardmediathek.de/ard/player/Y3JpZDovL3N3ci5kZS9hZXgvbzExMzE0MjA/
  15. Yes, lots of interactive events e.g., dance workshops in the city centre, dance with kids in the zoo, ... The festival takes place every 2 years but the local presence of both Gauthier Dance and Stuttgart Ballet makes a visit worthwhile any time 🙂
  16. Colours International Dance Festival is back in town. After a number of outdoor and interactive events, performances at the Theaterhaus in Stuttgart kicked off last Thursday. Full programme until 14 July here https://www.coloursdancefestival.com/en.html I saw Gauthier Dance in a quadruple bill “Classy Classics” on Saturday, consisting of the following works. Cayetano Soto: Malasangre. Jazzy, funky movements for 5 male and 2 female dancers in varying combinations (all male dancers, all female dancers, pairs, some, all) to Latin Soul music by Cuban singer La Lupe. The men dressed in knee-length skirts and knee-length black socks, the women in flesh-coloured tops and pants and also knee-length black socks. Rhythmic steps, arms stretched out wide, hip shaking. This was fast, energetic, electrifying. William Forsythe: Herman Schmerman Duet. This was the 2nd time that I saw this work, and I got a lot more out of it in terms of deconstruction than the 1st time, with the first part of the piece being closer to classical technique, and moving away a lot further once the dancers wear skirts. Marco Goecke: Aeffi. I love this piece more and more each time I see it. There is so much to discover, and I finally realised that the movements follow the tone and focus of each of the three songs by Jonny Cash. Stunning performance by Theophilus Vesely, and very happy to have seen this piece again. Eric Gauthier: Orchestra of Wolves. This was fun. A conductor’s (a chicken in a black suit) failed attempt to control an orchestra (a number of wolves in black suits). The players sit on desk chairs and initially follow the conductor. As the music progresses, they move closer around him and discuss how they can overpower him, and one of the wolves rubs his (own) tummy as indication that he’s looking forward to a delicious meal. The conductor still just about manages to keep things in order but increasingly, the players do what they want. The conductor flees, returns and briefly gets back in control; he chases off one of the players who then attacks and overpowers the conductor. The piece ends with the wolves plucking the chicken. Ohad Naharin: Decadance. I’d only seen Minus16 by Naharin before so couldn’t tell which of his works the extracts shown had been taken from. A presenter walked on stage and welcomed the audience, asked that mobile phones be switched off, etc. He later came back on stage and asked the audience to stand up. With each question that he read aloud, those who were able to answer the question in the affirmative were invited to sit down. After a few questions, all those who remained standing were invited to sit down, and those whose birthday it was on the day were asked to stand up. This person was invited to come on stage for a short interaction with two dancers (and the woman whose birthday it was did this admiringly well). Later on, a couple in red harem pants went through a mating ritual. Dancers walked to the front of the stage and performed specific movements e.g., falling down and getting up again, certain jumps, etc.- initially replicating the movement of the previous dancer whereas later on, each performed their own movements. Bearing in mind the presenter at the start and in the middle of this piece, this work was like a mini show of its own within the quadruple programme. It was bizarre and it was good to have seen it. The tags for Maguy Marin, Ballet BC and Akram Khan reflect the other companies that I am hoping to see during the festival. Fingers crossed things will work out as expected as two years ago, I had a ticket for Shechter’s Grand Finale, wasn’t able to attend and haven’t been able to see it since.
  17. A late addition to the thread as I saw this triple bill in a nearby cinema on Sunday. Within the Golden Hour. I just loved Beatriz Stix-Brunell’s playful, joyful, flirtatious smile, and this 1st PDD remains, together with the ensuing male duet (superb dancing by David Donnelly & Teo Dubreuil), my favourite part of this work. I like the shape of the dresses for the female dancers but actually prefer the colour palette of the previous costume design as I think this was slightly more colourful. They didn’t announce the cast changed on screen but, thankfully, earlier posts here did point them out. Views of the full stage were rather sombre (whereas close-ups and interviews came across perfectly fine in terms of lighting), I don’t remember whether I felt the same when I saw this work live on stage at The Royal Opera House. Beautiful relaxed music. All in all, I was very happy to see this piece again. Medusa. I am part of the minority that enjoyed this work. Great lighting effects, lights from the top for the bowls on the floor, dancing in light shafts, dancers hiding behind and pursuing others around the columns. Striking, beautiful costumes for the female dancers (I barely recognised Olivia Cowley) … I am less convinced of the costumes for the male dancers though. I found it refreshing that the assault on Medusa was shown symbolically rather than graphically, and the same applies to the beheading. I found the choreography for these scenes pretty creative, and the drama came across pretty well in my view. Finally, I found the final solo very moving (not sure about the role of the bowl though). Flight Pattern. The first time that I’ve seen this, wow, just wow, utterly compelling. I hadn’t welled up watching ballet or dance for quite some time, and there I just couldn’t help it. A group of people shuffling along, in despair, in the dark, sleeping out in the open, being tossed around by the sea, helping each other struggle on. The woman deeply traumatised, mourning the loss of a child/ baby, of hope/ dreams, and so many others joining in. The man doing his best to help, and yet unable to do much in this apocalyptic environment. Superb performance by the whole cast and in particular by Kristen McNally and Marcelino Sambe. Much looking forward to the DVD next year. Last but not least, I quite enjoyed the interviews this time, in particular as I found that the interaction between Darcey Bussell and Ore Oduba worked very well.
  18. Oh, that was quick for Navrin Turnbull, congratulations, he graduated from the John Cranko School only last year.
  19. My initial list included 4 or 5 further works, and removing these to get to the list above was tricky, I thus admire your ability to cut it down to just two works!
  20. I am in two minds over this, too. I’ve been thinking of the following MacMillan – Song of the Earth Cranko – Brouillards, Initials R.B.M.E, Concerto for Flute and Harp Tetley – Voluntaries Bintley – Still Life at the Penguin Cafe Forsythe – The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude Dawson – A Million Kisses to my Skin Bejart – Songs of a Wayfarer, 9th Symphony Wheeldon – DGV Pite – The Season’s Canon Scholz – Air Goecke – Almost Blue For some of these listed above, it’s the music, for others it’s specific memories, the choreographies or a mix of all these aspects. As for Bintley’s Still Life at the Penguin Café, this is specifically in honour of nature and species. Thinking about it, however, that’s a pretty long list for a single season … will there be sufficient rehearsal time for all these plus time for works that are performed less frequently and/ or new works? Will I have sufficient time and funds to attend all these performances in addition to other works & other leisure interests (most likely not)? The choreographies listed above are very special to me, will they lose some of their appeal if I get to see them every year? So maybe not every year but every second year? Alternatively, a few years in a row followed by a break of a few years?
  21. Ballett am Rhein performed a double bill in Ludwigsburg, just north of Stuttgart, last Saturday - Mark Morris’ Pacific and Martin Schlaepfer’s 44 Duos. Pacific is set to Lou Harrison’s Trio for Violin, Violoncello and Piano. The piece followed a structure of initially 4 men, then 3 women, followed by a couple and then groups of varying combinations until all dancers were on stage towards the end. Movements were flowing, loose, musical, with a combination of classical base (e.g., repeatedly double pirouettes, jetes entrelaces) and modern dance (e.g., arms bent upwards, upper bodies curbed). The costumes were a great match for the music and the movements – long flowing white skirts for the men and dresses for the women, each with blue (for the 4 men), green (for the 3 women) or red (for the couple) around the waist. The three colours provided structure for the first 3 parts and a vibrant atmosphere for the group section. I found the title Pacific well matched, and the piece is definitely part of my list of “high points” for this season. 44 Duos uses Bela Bartok’s eponymous 44 Duos for 2 Violins. While the music is for 2 violins, the choreography came with any number of dancers on stage, from solos to the full cast. Some movements were inspired by the folk theme of Bartok’s composition, others less so. Costumes included some which might be considered “folk” but others included e.g., what looked like shiny latex, a costume as if for Santa as well as normal street wear, and the dancer’s shoes came with a similar range (ballet flats, pointe shoes, trainers, sturdy shoes, …). The short musical duos gave rise to displays of couples in varying states of relationships, a large group of women hammering their pointe shoes against the floor as in a statement of assertion towards a group of men at the other end of the stage, couples dancing what looked like polka, and it showed individuals as part of larger groups. Two sections made me think that not all is well among the group and the environment that they live in – one showing dancers wearing stones as shoes and struggling to move in any direction, and the final piece with the dancers moving suddenly in unison. The parts that I enjoyed most where those that were danced to duos that were rhythmic, and the pieces that made me think most were those with the stones as shoes and the final tableau. Both works were performed to live music. This was the first time that I've seen the company, and I hope there'll be a chance to see them next season, too.
  22. Thanks, Jan, it is among the top 3 programmes that I've seen this season.
  23. A fabulous Wednesday evening with a total of 10 works by “Young Choreographers” (“young” in the sense that they aren’t established choreographers yet i.e., not related to their age), some of whom are dancers with the company while others are based elsewhere. Some of those with the company participated for the first time whereas others had already contributed in previous years. Stuttgart Ballet has taken on the organisation of these annual events from the Noverre Society, and so this year’s event was the first one that was organised by the company. What made this year’s programme special for me was that I enjoyed pretty much all of the works shown, certainly aided by the introduction provided to each piece via audio recording, enabling the audience to gain an insight into the choreographer’s motivations. Highlights for me were the following, in order of occurrence - Aurora De Mori – Pompei. A piece in two parts, before and after the volcanic eruption. Part 1 to music from Orff’s Carmina Burana with joyful movements by dancers in loose white shirts. Part 2 with dancers in ashen unitards to much more contemplative music by Bizet, and trying to deal with the complete change in environment e.g., hands seen pressing against white cloth as if seeking to get through thick clouds of white smoke/ ash following the eruption. Musical, emotive, thought-provoking. - Agnes Su – White Light. The piece explores the composition of white light i.e., the colours red, blue and green and the effects caused by their interaction. Three dancers, each representing one of the three colours dance in light shafts of that colour. Their interaction creates light in different colours until the light emerges as white when they all come together. Poetic, contemplative, thoughtful. - Alessandro Giaquinto – Just Sometimes. The title of the piece refers to the fact that in thinking something through or exploring something, it is only sometimes that such depth is achieved that the outcome is meaningful. The choreography thus shows dancers searching for this “something sometimes”. I thought that the piece definitely found this “something sometimes”. - Fraser Roach – Demon Days. This was glorious, surreal, hilarious, scary, just wonderful, all at once. Three couples in early 20th-century (?) costumes, one of them shy, the other happy and flirty, the third one calm, plus one person sitting on a bench and reading a newspaper. A person clothed in black with a hunchback and a long stick appears. The couples are scared by this appearance, and all is well again once that person has left. An eerie couple in white appears (Elisa Badenes/ David Moore), they attack the 3 couples. Not much of a chance for these couples to go unharmed … until an angel appears from above (Matteo Crockard-Villa). The angel’s display of exaggerated delicate feminine movements (e.g., hip shaking to remove the belt that had held the angel while it was being lowered down from the top, bourrees on demi pointe) led to repeated outbursts of laughter by the audience. The angel triumphs over the couple in white, and the 3 other couples are saved. Yet the couple in white returns and prevails over the angel. The person reading the newspaper has been oblivious to all this throughout the piece. He succumbs to the couple in white when they attack him from behind, and the piece ends with the reader’s shriek as the lights go off. The piece had a clear storyline, a beginning, a middle, an end, superbly fitting costumes, it had the right length and it came with great acting by those on stage. Wow just wow. Did Fraser Roach take part in any of the choreographic competitions at the RBS when he trained there? - Shaked Heller – Polosma. Rhythmic and musical with clear lines, enrapturing the audience. - Armen Arturi (Aalto Ballet Essen) – Many a Moon. My ability to take it all in was somewhat reduced towards the end of the evening but I thought this piece was just utterly impressive with its mix of choreography, costumes and lighting. Much looking forward to next year’s event. A review in a local newspaper so as to have more than one viewpoint on this year’s event, and with lots of pictures of the various works https://www.stuttgarter-nachrichten.de/inhalt.der-noverre-jahrgang-2019-stellt-sich-vor-junge-taenzer-und-wie-sie-die-welt-sehen.bd15ecc7-0791-41e5-870c-b0b7ed3825c2.html, and via google translate https://translate.google.de/translate?hl=&sl=de&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.stuttgarter-nachrichten.de%2Finhalt.der-noverre-jahrgang-2019-stellt-sich-vor-junge-taenzer-und-wie-sie-die-welt-sehen.bd15ecc7-0791-41e5-870c-b0b7ed3825c2.html&sandbox=1
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