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Hamburg Ballet, Bernstein Dances, Baden-Baden, October 2018

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A cold and rainy Sunday, time to come back to a performance of John Neumeier’s Bernstein Dances with Hamburg Ballet in Baden-Baden on 7 October.

Without being a biography of Leonard Bernstein, Bernstein Dances uses key musical pieces to guide through and illustrate 8 themes that Neumeier identified in Bernstein’s life and thinking - to quote from the programme booklet, of Bernstein’s “spirit”.

  • Overture (Overture from Candide)
  • Prologue – Who am I? (extracts from Peter Pan et al.)
  • Start and Departure (Facsimile. Choreographic Essay for Orchestra)
  • The city of all cities (extracts from Wonderful Town/ On the Town)
  • Spirituality (extracts from Mass/ Broadway for Peace)
  • Success (extracts from West Side Story)
  • Time lapse (Overture from Candide)
  • Review (extracts from Wonderful Town)
  • In the Evening and through the Night (Serenade et al.) – this features a party at an apartment in NY


Neumeier calls it “a loose sequence of compositions and choreographies”, and the themes flow from one to the next.

The parts that I enjoyed most were the interaction on stage between dancers (Christopher Evans as Bernstein) and pianist (Sebastian Knauer) respectively dancers and singers (Marie-Sophie Pollak and Roy Goldman). Plus recognising Age of Anxiety (it’s not listed in the booklet but I recognised a theme from it, unless this theme is also used in other compositions) and Serenade, and thinking about how Neumeier’s choreography compared to Scarlett’s and Wheeldon’s works for the Royal Ballet. Very beautiful, flowing, elegant, timeless costumes by Giorgio Armani. Finally, I just loved the curtain calls, choreographed to Candide’s Overture.

Trailer on the company’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOhT1Rahtls.



Edited by Duck
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