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Chamber ballets triple bill, Stuttgart Ballet


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The run of a triple bill at Stuttgart Ballet with choreographies by Hans van Manen, Glen Tetley and Katarzyna Kozielska ended on Saturday. I saw its penultimate performance on Friday evening.

 

Hans van Manen’s Kammerballet was created in 1969 and is new to the repertoire in Stuttgart. Music is by Kara Karayev, Domenico Scarlatti and John Cage. If I needed to summarise the ballet in one sentence, it would be “dancing while others are watching”. One dancer after another comes on stage carrying a side table on which they then sit, and from where they watch, observe - some interested, some with an intense stare – those who are already on stage and those who are still walking on stage with their table. 4 women and 4 men, clothed one each in yellow/ orange/ brown/ black. Individuals and then pairs start to dance (each however with a different colour than their own), watched/ observed by everyone else. Larger groups start to dance, still observed by those who don’t dance at that time. Finally the dancers rearrange the side tables to form a semi-circle, to watch from there a long PDD by Elisa Badenes and David Moore. My words don’t do justice to the intricacies of the movements and variations of glances and stares; suffice to say that I loved it and that I found it funny and intriguing to see the dancers observing and interacting with each other.

 

Glen Tetley’s Arena was created in 1969 and first shown in Stuttgart in 1973 as part of the same evening that saw the premiere of Voluntaries. Had I not known that the ballet was created more than 40 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell. The arena (a.k.a. the stage) is a bare room with a large electric fan to the left, a running sink to the right, a stack of chairs at the back, and large red panels on all three sides of the stage. The music is by Morton Subotnick and called “The Wild Bull”. Played on electronic synthesiser, some of it does sound like a wild bull. The title is fitting for what follows. Six men wear nude underpants and identical red makeup on their forehead and various places on their torso, reminiscent of ancient warriors. A dancer sits on top of the stack of chairs. The men enter into fights over power and domination through sets of jetés and pirouettes and through duets with lots of strenuous and stamina-testing lifts. One duet seems to show a little more intimacy and yet still leaves a dancer motionless on the floor. Another duet is a clear question of oppression whereby the remaining dancer from the first duet is left lying on the floor, knees up, with the victorious dancer sitting on these knees to emphasise his dominance. Towards the end, the stack of chairs is dismantled one by one and the chairs are thrown into different corners of the arena in an outburst of anger by the dancer who has risen again from the first duet. The curtain goes down while he is walking faster and faster around the victorious dancer from the second duet. Congratulations and respect to all dancers, with Robert Robinson and Louis Stiens outstanding on Friday.

 

Katarzyna Kozielska is a demi soloist with Stuttgart Ballet. Neurons is her second ballet for the main stage and was premiered at the start of this run in March 2016. She took inspiration for the choreography from having her brainwaves measured while listening to music by Max Richter. She uses music by Max Richter and John Adams for her piece, and the two composers are cleverly integrated. The curtain goes up on a dancer doing bourrées, wearing a costume that looks like a metallic sheet that is pulled tight at the waist. At first the stage is barely lit with only the arms visible, then a circle of lights turns to show the whole neuron (i.e., dancer). Costumes for the other neurons are like from space age, marbled grey unitards with a little shiny silver around the waist and near the shoulders. The other neurons come on stage in a series of dream-like PDD and other interactions, with mist flowing in from the side. The wonder at watching what was happening on stage took over from remembering the details of what was shown, and I would really like to see this again as there was so much going on. It is difficult to highlight individuals amongst so much excellence however I was mightily impressed by Constantine Allen and by Martí Fernandez Paixa. The latter graduated from the John Cranko School only in 2014, had a substantial role created on him by Demis Volpi while he still was an apprentice with the company, joined the corps the ballet in 2015 and was promoted to demi soloist earlier this year.

 

What I really like about this company is the vast variety of style among its repertoire, including in the same evening and by the same dancers, and its ability give opportunities to young dancers very early on in their careers.

 

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edited for typo

Edited by Duck
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