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  1. Coppelia in Munich April 22nd, 2022 Staatsballett Munich currently performs Coppelia by Roland Petit with three different casts in the main roles, and I went to see Ksenia Ryshkova as Swanilda, Shale Wagman as Franz and Javier Amo as Dr. Coppelius (he dances this role in all performances). Petit's choreography is a colorful and "bonbon-rose" version of this ballet. And especially when the corps dances I was under the impression that we see a revue rather than a ballet with a story to tell. Somehow it felt that the extended corps parts were made to give the 3 main characters time to catch their breath backstage. And for no other purpose 😀. It sounds a bit mean but it really didn't add to the story at all. As for the story, it was pure entertainment and fun to watch. Mostly, and I have to focus now on the main reason why I travelled to Munich again - because of the witty, defiant, proud, brilliant performance Shale Wagman delivered as Franz. It was his first main role in a full length ballet in Munich as soloist (which in Munich means "demi-soloist"), alongside principal dancer Ksenia Ryshkova as a lovely, charming and graceful Swanilda, who was also very good in acting as poor Swanilda, trying frantically to get her Franz. She delivered beautiful clean solo parts especially with her fouettes. Shale's technical and acting skills met the funny, mischevious and proud character of Franz perfectly. High jumps (one to the back of the stage made me literally gasp), beautiful tours en l'air, wonderful manege jumps, his "trademark" flexibility and a charming partnering for Ksenia as well as duets with Coppelius were just so delightful to watch. His expressive face (eyes!) and body language for the pantomime parts were so funny, the audience chuckled along and gave applause during his gorgeous solo parts. I know I am biased but when he's onstage, his presence and fun to dance is palpable and striking. Thunderous applause, bravi and many curtain calls for Franz and Swanilda were highly deserved. Munich is one lucky city to have him. His next main role (according to the recent Staatsballett's press release) will be "Puck" in Neumeier's Midsummernights Dream. Link to my Instagram with my Video: https://www.instagram.com/p/Ccqs6SoIS-Z/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=
  2. I'm back from Munich and was lucky to see both Triple Bill performances which opened the Ballet Festival Week. Here are some impressions: The 3 pieces complimented each other. Dawson's "Affairs of the heart" is an essence of " l'art pour l'art" for me. "Pictures at an exhibition" by A. Ratmansky showed a colorful interpretation of life, with a strong political reference to the war in Ukraine, and Marco Goecke's "Sweet bones melody" had a more subtle, very touching message about the need for peace. Affairs of the heart" by David Dawson (world premiere on Saturday) The beautiful and haunting music by Marjan Mozetich (violin concert, same title as choreo) served the breathtaking beauty of the choreography in perfection, and vice versa. Stage setting was just a wall with geometric forms and changing colors from yellow, pink, blue to grey. All dancers were dressed in lightblue/grey leotards (with long legs for the men). 4 couples, three female and 2 male soloists presented this new creation. The program book contains insightful interviews with Dawson and dancers Shale Wagman, Carollina Bastos and Emilio Pavan about the process of creating this piece, that is a wonderful addition to the performance. I felt indeed the heart all dancers put into this piece. They danced it with so much, grace, elegance and dedication (abandon ? I struggle with translation here ), it really made me forget the outside world. Soloist Shale Wagman was a kind of a virtuous and elegant cupido, inspiring and spreading love across the stage and between the couples. He had 2 solos alone onstage as well. His fluidity in dancing and excellent classical technique, e.g. long manege jumps, illuminated the stage, and I am very grateful to David Dawson that he saw and "used" Shale's artistry to the maximum. On the Staatsballett website is also a 7 minutes video with interviews and dance clips about this production. "Pictures at an exhibition" by A. Ratmansky (created in 2014 for NYC ballet). Music: M. Mussorgski, piano: D. Mayboroda Stage setting was also just a wall with video projections of partial Kandinsky paintings. The costumes complimented these projections, for the ladies with featherlight transparent dresses with color patterns, their male partners in sleeveless shirts and long pants w matching color patterns. It was pretty colorful onstage, lol. A highlight was seeing Amar Ramasar, former dancer with NYC ballet. He was only meant to coach in this production but ended up onstage as replacement for Osiel Gouneo who was ill. Prisca Zeisel, principal dancer, danced the solo parts but was obviously already injured (although I noticed it only at curtain call). For the second night, Rebecca Horn from Wiener Staatsballett jumped in for her, which was another blessing to see her very strong, mischevious solo. I should know the paintings/musical parts Amar and Rebecca interpreted but I'm so tired...sorry. I also noticed some choreographic nods to Ballet Russes. My favorite part was the PDD danced by Jinhao Zhang and Kristina Lind (who jumped in for Madison Young, she is injured). Very tender, light and lyrical. In the very end, the Ukrainian flag was projected on stage wall, as final picture. It was a strong signal, and raised of course lots of applause. For curtain call, Ratmansky held the Ukrainian flag above his head, again and again and again. I know that Munich is partner city for Kijev, but I had a hard time accepting that he used this evening as a political statement in such an overwhelming manner. It caused a lot of applause just for this statement and distracted from the piece and the dancers, imo. But well. On second night, the applause was dedicated to the dancers. "Sweet bones' melody" by Marco Goecke (world premiere on Saturday) Sorry I cannot describe what pulls me into Marco Goecke's pieces. It's certainly an "either you love it, or you hate it" stuff he creates. Here, we had a dark foggy stage, dark confetti (like ashes) falling from the "sky", costumes dark long wide trousers and dark top with glitter. I wonder why none of the dancers stumbled because the trousers were far too long. Top solo by Jonah Cook and ehm...yes Shale Wagman😀. I literally searched for the ice skates he must have had on his feet (not, of course). The many many whirlwind turns across the stage were executed with SUCH a speed and precision, it was unbelievable. My neighbors in row gasped. And then he stopped dead where/when he had to and moved on with his solo...boah. Altogether, I applause all dancers who trip, run, bend, cramp etc in the usual speedy, hasty Goecke moves. It's a marathon from A to Z, but I hear the dancers love his pieces. Well me too but I can sit. The magic moment was when all dancers were on stage, standing heads down immobilized, and from the off, Florian Sollfrank's voice whispered a poem by Else Lasker-Schueler, "Weltenende". OMG that was so moving. Could have been the end of the piece, but it wasn't. The piece went on then a bit more, and in the end, a single dancer emerged from the dark back with a white dove in his hands. For premiere night, the bird even flapped the wings a bit but was attached to the dancers hand by a string, so it could not escape. It was the final scene, a far more subtle but very moving and powerful longing for peace and hint what has been lost in so many parts of the world. A very very wonderful new triple bill for Bayerisches Staatsballett, if you can, go see it. Check out the videos on their website, and or instagram/Facebook. The company is in top form (minus the poor injured) and have a great week ahead. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  3. I was at 4 ballets in the Ballet Week in Munich mid-April, 2 of them with prominent guest stars - “Lady of the Camellias” and “Onegin”, which turned out to be below my expectations. On the 12th April, Marguerite was danced by Anne Laudere, partnered by Edvin Revazov, both from the Hamburg Ballet. She was fine, but Revazov, coming from Neumeier’s emsemble, was disappointing. I thought him inadequate, both technically and dramatically. Especially in the final black pdd he could not match the intensity and urgency of the Chopin’s Ballade and seemed not to have the stamina to finish the pdd with the necessary flourish... and sporting a hairdo more suited to Dr. Coppelius. One huge blemish of this production, to me at least, is that the drama of money-filled envelope took place on the extreme right extension of the stage, not on the stage proper. So those seated on the right upper tiers were unable to see Marguerite being handed the envelope, opening it, slapping Olympia, etc. All others in the audience had to divide their attention between this and Armand’s anguish on the extreme left side of the stage and the corps de ballet dancing in the middle. Very frustrating. “Onegin” on the 13th saw David Hallberg in the title role and Natalia Osipova as Tatiana. A case of big names tossed together, but which somehow fell flat. Friends I was with and myself missed the harmony and understanding which probably could only be there with more rehearsal time. Somehow the timing in the lifts seemed awkward, which esp. dampened our enjoyment of the Mirror pdd and I noticed in the final pdd that the lifts, with his arms raised and she inbetween them, were wrong. He had to bring down one arm to clutch her torso. It’s a matter of personal taste, but we found Osipova not quite right for Tatiana. Not the introverted bookworm, experiencing love for the 1st time, she was all too ready with her bright smile ... as in the words of a friend, passionate about this ballet – “She’s Kitri pretending to be Tatiana”. And on that evening she was on the heavy side, especially in the lifts. The other 2 evenings with “Taming of the Shrew” and “Spartacus” with the BSB’s own stars went off fine. Jonah Acosta cut a maverick figure as Petruchio with Lauretta Summerscales stomping as the untamed Kate, but I prefer her dancing as the tamed wife. For me Marcia Haydee is still the one who set the standard as Kate. Perhaps it’s the fact that Haydee was not pretty in the conventional sense of the word, so that her “ugly sister“ ferocity was given a cutting edge. “Spartacus” too went off well. Compactly built Osiel Gouneo delivered the spins and jumps to the delight of the audience, but still could bring over the passion of Spartacus. Ksenia Ryzhkova danced Phrygia wonderfully, with the right mixture of longing, fear and despair. The male corps de ballet marched and stamped vigourously, though I’ve often wondered how they’d compare to the Bolshoi, which I only could catch on dvd.
  4. I very much enjoyed the live stream tonight. The Munich company gave a very good account of themselves in each piece. Ashley Bouder was fantastic, I thought, in Rubies. Alina Somova danced with cool precision and allure in Diamonds, just about coping with the brisk tempi in the final segment! A special mention for Vladimir Shklyarov who is really dancing on top form at the moment (appearing in The Little Humpbacked Horse last night at the Mariinsky and presumably flying to Munich this morning) - it was a great pleasure to see again his elan and musicality. I look forward to watching the performance all over again tomorrow!
  5. Nothing too innovative in Munich! Wheeldon's Alice Fille La Bayadere R&J Symphony in C/In the Night/Adam Is (Aszure barton) Spartacus Giselle A Midsummer Night's Dream (Neumeier) Stanislavsky guesting with Mayerling
  6. Now available online, a half-hour TV program (in German) documenting a journalist's weeklong experience of life in a ballet company: http://www.ndr.de/fernsehen/sendungen/7_tage/index.html Julie please let us know if your son is anywhere to be seen!
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