Monthly Archive: March 2016

A Ravishing Cast

“Romeo and Juliet”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
March 25, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Badenes and D.Camargo, “Romeo and Juliet” by J.Cranko © Stuttgart BalletThough spring is still dawdling away in Stuttgart, in the opera house spring fever has grown into fervent passion. Behind that is Cranko’s “Romeo and Juliet”, back for three performances within one week. The first one was led by Anna Osadcenko and Jason Reilly, followed by Elisa Badenes and Daniel Camargo. Later in the week, Miriam Kacerova and Constantine Allen had their Stuttgart debut as the star-crossed lovers. I saw Badenes and Camargo, each a marvelous dancer, superb when together.

But not until the first encounter of Romeo and Juliet did the story liven up. What was the sticking point? It was not the music, even if James Tuggle and the State Orchestra Stuttgart delivered Prokofiev’s score in a less richly way than on other occasions. Certainly the dancers are not to blame. They were fully engaged. Might it be Jürgen Rose’s sets, used unchanged since the piece’s premiere more than fifty years ago? (more…)


“b.27” (“Duo Concertant”, “Variations and Partitas”, “The Green Table”)
Ballett am Rhein
Opera House Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf, Germany
March 18, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.-K.Adam and M.Menha, “Duo Concertant” by G.Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust, Ballett am Rhein © G.WeigeltMuch credit is due to Martin Schläpfer for his repertory policy. Since he has taken over the Ballet am Rhein as director and chief choreographer in 2009, he has fostered variety, even though his own creations dominate the schedule. Unlike Hamburg Ballet, for example, with its excessively one-sided Neumeier-diet, Schläpfer keeps ballet’s historical legacy alive – this season with ballets by Bournonville, Tudor and Ashton – while also offering up-to-date choreographers a platform. Schläpfer has Swiss roots and a close relationship to nature. A recent documentary about him (“Feuer bewahren”) shows him on vacation at his solitary mountain lodge in Tessin. He is likable, unpretentious and down-to earth.

Though Ballet am Rhein’s ensemble might not be as versatile as Stuttgart Ballet’s in adopting different styles – Schläpfer, training them himself, has imprinted his own style on them – it benefits and grows with each challenge. “b.27”, which received its premiere last weekend, is such a case. The triple bill has “Variations and Partitas”, new choreography by Schläpfer at its center, framed by George Balanchine’s “Duo Concertant” and “The Green Table” by Kurt Jooss. (more…)


Semperoper Ballet
Dresden, Germany
March 12, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. C.Bauch, “COW” by A.Ekman, Semperoper Ballet © T.M.Rives“COW” is the Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman’s new creation for the Semperoper Ballet Dresden. As the title suggests, cows – sculptures, not living cattle – are the common thread of this otherwise plotless piece, albeit not dancing but sometimes merely watching what is going on.

The piece is a result of intense teamwork by four artists: composer Mikael Karlsson, costume designer Henrik Vibskov, and multimedia expert T.M.Rives working with Ekman who kept things firmly in hand. Karlsson, who has collaborated with Ekman for several years, contributed the music. He first recorded the basic sounds with Germany’s National Youth Orchestra; then the material was electronically alienated and remixed. It involves a sequence of cowlike “mooing” lasting several minutes. Ekman used the music to generate atmosphere and as a signal for the dancers when to start or which rhythm to keep. One pas de deux, “Silence”, except for single tones, is done without music. The dancers add to the acoustics by speaking, shouting and screaming. One of them, Skyler Maxey-Wert, even sings a song “Nothing Moves a Cow” at the end. (more…)

Those Who Can – Anderson’s Jubilee Menu No. 3

“Kammerballette” (“Kammerballett”, “Arena”, “Neurons”)
Stuttgart Ballet
Schauspielhaus Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
March 04, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.F.Paixa, A.Amatriain, J.Reilly, P. v.Sternenfels, D.Camargo and A.Osadcenko, “Kammerballett” by H.v.Manen, Stuttgart Ballet 2016Reid Anderson’s third new ballet evening sticks to the format of the previous ones. Again, three short ballets are assembled on a mixed bill, this time shown on the stage of the Stuttgart Schauspielhaus. Hans van Manen’s “Kammerballett”, choreography from 1995 for the Nederlands Dans Theater, opened the program. It is new for the company enlarging Stuttgart Ballet’s already vast van Manen repertory. “Arena”, the middle piece, is by Glen Tetley, the company’s director in the period 1974 – 1976. Anderson had danced under Tetley’s reign. Their longstanding collaboration originated then. The new piece was saved for the finale: “Neurons”, a world premiere by the Polish choreographer Katarzyna Kozielska. (more…)