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Stuttgart Ballet's 'Made in Germany' at Sadler's Wells


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This evening showcased the company's men (and their beautifully toned (bare) upper torsos!). As most of the pieces will be new to the majority of people I won't say more until after tomorrow night's performance. I will say, though, that my favourites (and, I think, the audience's) were 'Fanfare X' and 'Mono Lisa'. I don't know what Luke Jennings will make of the programme.

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Snap, those were my favourites too. I also really liked the pdd from the Lady of Camellias. Rather looking forward to the Taming of the Shrew after having had a glimpse of the company.

 

I had to think of the spatchcocked discussion when the female dancer was moving the limbs of her male partner during 'Little Monsters' - quite nice to see a gentle opposite of the 'female doll'.

 

The very knowledgable gent sitting next to me mentioned that 'Hommage au Bolshoi' was not a UK premiere as listed in the programme, he had seen it performed at the Coliseum by the National Ballet of Canada with Marcia Haydee and Richard Craqun in '72, and I've just found a stock photo of the performance online. Guess they should have asked my seat neighbour to proofread the programme ;)

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Very exciting programme which got better, apart from Cranko's Hommage au Bolshoi I wouldn't really want to see the other pieces in the first section more than once, but good fun. The middle section was beautiful, basically 4 pdd, loved R.B.M.E. which had a corps de ballet but was mainly for Maria Eichwald and Kevin McKie who is very tall with a wonderful line. I've never seen Cranko's R and J so a marvellous chance to compare balcony scenes, this one is very lyrical. Best of all, and the most emotional excerpt of the evening, was Neumeier's Lady of the Camellias, danced by Sue Jin Kang and another of the Stuttgart's amazing men, Marijn Rademaker. The third section had 2 standouts, as others have said, Fanfare LX and Mono Lisa.

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We had just five of the seven pieces to photograph at the general rehearsal, here are just three of the pictures.

 

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Maria Eichwald and Filip Barankiewicz in John Cranko's Hommage a Bolshoi 
 
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 Daniel Camargo and Elisa Badenes in Demis Volpi's Little Monsters 
 
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 Alicia Armatriain and Jason Reilly in Christian Spuck's Le Grand Pas de Deux 
 
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I understand the sentiment about the 'bittiness' of the Stuttgart Ballet's MADE IN GERMANY programme by the reviewers ... and concur about the chop and change elements of the overall programme.  I can but feel that was inevitable.. Given that so many current balletic works - say those made in that which we must now call the current RB house style which is even now being wildly applauded by an obviously happy and growing number and (as has been made clear here in several very recent postings) 'despised' by others - celebrate just so many jolts of diversity even within one whole I was myself a trifle surprised that several (especially Mackrells' swallow) appeared to be just SO overwhelmed by the format itself.  I think if this internationally reputed Company had (as it deserves to be) been better known to UK audiences and certainly by those reviewing for local broadsheets as a professional vocation (surely a dying breed) this particular menu might not have been so difficult for them to digest.  Were that to have been the case surely their attentions might helpfully have been otherwise focused.  One thing it did put into relief, is that Spalding's desire for London to be seen a 'the dance capital of the world' is, I fear, a long way off.  This will be accomplished methinks not simply by the local addition a mid-scale facility, but by an overall culture change in terms of significant programming (certainly in terms of ballet) allowing the UK dance mindsets to open via a greater global access.  (Sadly SW's programme for Spring 2014, if anything moves away from such a purpose.)  Had the Stuttgart Ballet been not SO foreign an entity in this country then perhaps just such a programme would NOT have been necessary.  Clearly there was a lot of catching up to do.  I, for one, was appreciative for this opportunity. 

 

For me what this bill did - e.g., its purpose - was to introduce to London the extraordinary range of dancers united by their truly extraordinary interpretive capacity.  Surely THIS will NOW allow us (i) to have a better sense of THEM when we come to see Cranko's 'Shrew' (which I first saw - unforgettably - with Haydee & Cragen and last saw with a fiery Osipova in Munich) and (ii) further enforce the need for greater future London exposure if Spalding's aims can ever hope to be met.  For this, I was/am ENORMOUSLY appreciative to Reid Anderson.   Such a smorgasbord of gifts were here on display.  A little pick and choose can sometimes go a long way ... and at least the tastes represented on this particular programme were hugely varied ... as has been (at least on this board fairly) represented.      

Edited by Meunier
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Wow, Meunier, thank you!!! After the reviews I really thought the British audience was frozen on the level of Cranko, MacMillan and the 60s, that there was no interest in new choreography, new movements, new ways of expression. Or is it just the critics? I know that reviewers in Germany appreciate novelty much more than the preservation of classical movement (which they sometimes despise), but is it really so hard to see how inventive and how different some of these pieces are? Thank you, again!

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For me, the performance felt very much like a gala with essentially 11 solos and duets and only two ensemble pieces. Does Stuttgart's new work normally take the form of very short pieces for one or two dancers? Cranko's Hommage au Bolshoi was over in the twinkle of an eye (why was it so incredibly short?), but what I saw was nice. I wasn't keen on Goecke's twitchy pieces or the Clug piece and I found the supposedly amusing 'Le Grand Pas' (Spuck) crass and unfunny. Actually, at the interval I did wonder whether I should just stick to Swan Lake in the future. Little Monsters was better but I didn't like the needy woman being pushed away by her lover theme. Whilst it was interesting to see the three pdds and the excerpt from Initials R.B.M.E. I didn't feel that they worked well out of context, particularly the R&J which was dull (IMO) and involved the dancers running away from one another a lot. For me, things picked up in the third part of the evening with Fanfare LX (Douglas Lee) and Momo Lisa (Galili) both a bit Forsythe/McGregor. I quite liked The Seventh Blue (Spuck) one of the two ensemble pieces. At the end of the evening I was left comparing the evening (unfavourably) with SFB's offerings last year and wondering whether the contemporary European aesthetic is very different from the kind of contemporary work which we are used to seeing in the UK created by McGregor, Wheeldon, Page et al. On the plus side, I was able to see Stuttgart's marvellous male dancers (does any other company have so many?).Even their physiques (on full display) seemed different to those of the men in the UK. Someone tweeted that they looked like Abercrombie models and I noticed that the postcards for sale show them topless as well.

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At the end of the evening I was left comparing the evening (unfavourably) with SFB's offerings last year and wondering whether the contemporary European aesthetic is very different from the kind of contemporary work which we are used to seeing in the UK created by McGregor, Wheeldon, Page et al.

 

McGregor had already made two pieces for Stuttgart Ballet before RB hired him, I think Reid Anderson was the first who invited him to do a full-grown one-act piece for a ballet company in 2003. So YES, I guess the taste for modern ballet is different on the continent - I wouldn't say that we are one step ahead, that sounds condescending, but the hunger for modern movement, for a different movement style than the classical one is much bigger here. Goecke for example is widely admired among German critics, NDT recently hired him also as resident choreographer for three years.

 

Almost all choreographers of the Made in Germany evening have done full-evening ballets, too, and short ensemble pieces of course, not only pdd and solos. 

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I should also have said (in the light of Luke Jennings' recent piece in The Guardian) that it was disappointing that among the nine choreographers featured in the programme there was not a single woman.

 

In the Made in Germany program performed in Stuttgart, they did feature a piece called Symph by a female choreographer, Katarzyna Kozielska who is also a demi-soloist in the company. Bridget Breiner, former principal with the company has been nominated for this year's Faust Prize for her choreography so they do have female choreographers. Wished they could show one in London.

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Angela, taking one example, did Goecke use the same movement style in his longer/full evening pieces? I suppose that we are moving into the territory of what kind of work we (I) want to see a ballet company perform. I can't speak for others, but IMO Goecke's work two nights ago would look more at home in a contemporary dance company. I'll be honest and say that male solos as standalone pieces generally don't do much for me, although there are a few exceptions. The other thing that I felt is that some of the choreography didn't have much relationship with the music ie the dancer was dancing with the music as background rather than dancing *to* the music.

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Naomi, it's probably a bit rich of me to criticise Stuttgart for a lack of female choreographers as they're almost non-existent in the UK! In the RB's Metamorphosis programme there wasn't a single woman among the seven choreographers and Tamara has commissioned three men to create work for ENB's Lest We Forget programme next spring.

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I concur with the gist of Meunier's post (nr 8). I thought the Made in Germany evening was a splendid catch-up opportunity - obviously there are going to be pieces in such a numerous selection that one likes less than others, but as a shop-window of talents and (maybe) trends it was wonderful! I'm now greatly looking forward to Saturday - I too saw Shrew with Haydee and Cragun way back when...!

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