Yearly Archive: 2017

Impressive!

“Ballet Matinée”
John Cranko School
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
July 16, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Pernão and S.Pompignoli, “Alrededor No Hay Nada” by G.Montero, John Cranko School © Stuttgart Ballet Stuttgart’s John Cranko School has an excellent reputation in the ballet world. In a recent interview, Dutch National Ballet’s Marijn Rademaker talked about the excellent teachers in Stuttgart. I saw quite a few end of the year school performances, but this year’s matinée made me shake my head in disbelief. What outstanding talents has Tadeusz Matacz been training under his roof!

The students’ performance of Leonid Lavrovsky’s “Classical Symphony” could have vied with proper companies. The boys jumped spick and span, landed from tour en l’airs nicely in sync and partnered smoothly. Short Motomi Kiyota of the 6th class was especially intriguing. He soared through the air as if it were his natural space of being. The girls dabbed the choreography onstage, defying weight and gravity and confidently tossed out fouettes. “Classical Symphony” left one with an elevated feeling.

They proved they can also excel in contemporary pieces in “Alrededor No Hay Nada”, new choreography by Goyo Montero, artistic director of the company of the State Theater Nuremberg. It is set to Spanish lyrics by Joaquin Sabina and Vinicius de Moreas and some bars of jazzy music towards the end. The stage was gloomy with single spotlights, and the single scenes, danced by five girls and five boys (all from the Academy Classes A and B) were likewise dark and mysterious. Did they portray some dangerous dark deeds? Shady 2. N.Turnbull, “A Spell On You” by M.Goecke, John Cranko School © Stuttgart Ballet political dealings maybe? Or gender clashes? The costumes – black bowler hats, beige shirts, black suits for the boys and black shorts to black suit jackets for the girls – didn’t specify the characters. Spanish-speaking audience members might have understood better what was behind the scenes. The choreography was fast-paced, acrobatically-tinged, rich with tricky lifts and very well performed. I need to watch “Alrededor No Hay Nada” again, not only to get behind its secret but because it is a gripping piece.

Marco Goecke’s “A Spell On You”, last year danced by eleven students, was shown this time in a reworked version for three boys (Riccardo Ferlito / 6th class; Riku Ota / Academy Class A; Navarin Turnbull / Academy Class B) and one girl (Amber 3. M.Woo, “Porto Que Sinto” by C.Antunes Moreíra, John Cranko School © Stuttgart Ballet Ray / Academy Class A). Goecke’s style demands snappy, fluttering moves at breakneck speed, fleet footwork and the ability to swiftly switch between rigid muscle tension and controlled softness. It is an eccentric movement language, unique in the dance world, and it is challenging. The four students performed it at a stupendously professional level. Interestingly, Turnbulls’s solo suddenly felt distant as if he bustled around like an ant under a cheese dome while calm, peaceful vibes started to cover him. They made his fidgeting and strain look less dramatic.
As a side note, after months of rumors it is now official that Goecke’s contract as Stuttgart Ballet’s resident choreographer will expire at the end of next season. Tamas Detrich, who will take over the reins from Reid Anderson in fall 2018, decided to start without in-house choreographers, saying he needs to free up space for new impulses and new choreographers. The contract of Demis Volpi, the company’s other resident choreographer, won’t be extended either.

On first sight, “Lamento Della Ninfa” by Stephen Shropshire is a pas de trois similar to the ones frequently seen in contemporary choreography: two men partner one woman. One expects the usual series of cold, manipulative acrobatics 4. Students of the John Cranko School, “The Four Seasons”: “Spring” by K.Kozielska, John Cranko School © Stuttgart Ballet and the woman being handled like an object. Shropshire’s little piece is different though. It was danced by students of the Academy Classes A and B. Mizuki Amemiya portrayed an afflicted girl, who dragged herself forward with deep lunges. Henrik Erikson and Christopher Kunzelmann supported her. The following sequence was acrobatic indeed and showcased Amemiya’s pliability. I wondered whether her feet ever touched the floor. Yet she never seemed manipulated but was a woman with dignity.

Pliability is also a feature of Madeline Woo (Academy Class B) who danced the solo “Porto Que Sinto” by Catarina Antunes Moreira, choreography originally made on a boy. After Woo’s first sweeping développé one knew that she took to the part like a duck to water. Woo danced without any reserve. She jumped like Kitri, 5. P.Terranova, N.Turnbull and M.Piraino, “The Four Seasons”: “Autumn” by F.Adorisio, John Cranko School © Stuttgart Ballet almost touching her foot with the back of her head, then slowly slid into a split on the floor before pouring her energy into another sequence. The stage belonged to her.

Pieces involving students from all classes framed the program. “The Four Seasons” to Antonio Vivaldi’s music of the same title was the opener. It is a co-production of four choreographers. Except for “Winter”, a pas de deux by Demis Volpi, all other seasons were danced by the group. Katarzyna Kozielska’s “Spring” wittily turned the dancers into popping up buds; Louis Stiens’s “Summer” included some hunched moths; in Fabio Adorisio’s “Autumn” a girl fell fearlessly into the arms of the boys. Transparent golden yellow raincoats served as protective covers for some dancers. In 6. A.Ray, C.Hammond and M.Amemiya, “Excerpts from Études” by B.and T.Matacz, John Cranko School © Stuttgart Ballet “Winter”, the arms of Ji Soo Park and Henrik Erikson (both Academy Class A) shivered from cold and Park’s hand looked spiky like an icicle. Later their dance became mellow like soft snowfall.

The last piece, “Excerpts from Études” by Barbara and Tadeusz Matacz is modeled on Harald Lander’s original “Études”, but starts with the young students doing simple floor work. With every age group of students the dance gets more complex. Seeing the dynamic of the older students’ jumps I thought of the village youth’s diagonals of jeté splits from “Onegin”. With such young dancers this scene will surely gain applause in the future too.

Of this year’s thirteen graduates, twelve have engagements. Four will join Stuttgart Ballet, others have contracts in Eisenach /Germany, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Stockholm, Prague and Bydgoszcz / Poland.
7. Students of the John Cranko School, “Excerpts from Études” by B.and T.Matacz, John Cranko School © Stuttgart Ballet

Links: Homepage of the John Cranko School
Photos:  1. Alice Pernão (Academy Class A) and Simone Pompignoli (Academy Class B), “Alrededor No Hay Nada” by Goyo Montero, John Cranko School
 2. Navrin Turnbull (Academy Class B), “A Spell On You” by Marco Goecke, John Cranko School
 3. Madeline Woo (Academy Class A), “Porto Que Sinto” by Catarina Antunes Moreíra, John Cranko School
 4. Students of the John Cranko School, “The Four Seasons”: “Spring” by Katarzyna Kozielska, John Cranko School
 5. Paolo Terranova (6th Class), Navrin Turnbull (Academy Class B) and Marco Piraino (6th Class), “The Four Seasons”: “Autumn” by Fabio Adorisio, John Cranko School
 6. Amber Ray (Academy Class A), Chandler Hammond (Academy Class B) and Mizuki Amemiya (Academy Class A), “Excerpts from Études” by Barbara and Tadeusz Matacz, John Cranko School
 7. Students of the John Cranko School, “Excerpts from Études” by Barbara and Tadeusz Matacz, John Cranko School
all photos © Stuttgart Ballet
 Editing: Tiffany Lau

“Anna Karenina” – Another Lesson By Neumeier

“Anna Karenina”
Hamburg Ballet – John Neumeier
Hamburg State Opera
Hamburg, Germany
July 14, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Arii, M.Huguet, I.Urban, A.Laudere, L.Wang / G.Fuhrman and ensemble, “Anna Karenina” by J.Neumeier, Hamburg Ballet © S.Ballone Several choreographers have adapted Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel “Anna Karenina” for the dance stage. Maya Plisetskaya choreographed the piece for the Bolshoi in 1972 and danced the title role; Alexei Ratmansky created several versions, his latest for the Maryinsky in 2010; Christian Spuck, artistic director of Ballet Zurich, premiered his version in 2014. Now John Neumeier has tackled the subject with Hamburg Ballet. It is a co-production with the Bolshoi Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada, but has been solely produced in Hamburg. (more…)

Young Choreographers of the Ballett am Rhein

“Young Moves”
Ballett am Rhein
Opera House Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf, Germany
July 09, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. C.Jaroszewski and A.Pinet, “No Destination” by W.S.Chan, Ballett am Rhein © G.Weigelt For the second time, Ballett am Rhein presented works by young choreographers. All six ballets of “Young Moves” were created by members of the company. Four of them – Wun Sze Chan, Boris Randzio, So-Yeon Kim and Michael Foster – already participated in last year’s event; Sonny Locsin and Chidozie Nzerem were novices. The program was shown three times during the first half of July. I saw the second show, an afternoon matinee. Maybe it was because of the gorgeous summer weather that many seats in the auditorium remained empty. Applause was, however, warm and intense. (more…)

Conversations with Marijn Rademaker and Jozef Varga

Dutch National Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
June, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Dutch National Opera & Ballet © L.KramerThe beautiful opera house and national ballet company are as welcoming and open as Amsterdam itself. During my last visit for the premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s “Shostakovich Trilogy” in mid-June, I took the opportunity to talk with two principal dancers, Marijn Rademaker and Jozef Varga, about their career and their plans for the future.

Rademaker, a Dutchman, returned home in 2015 after many years with Stuttgart Ballet. We met in a cafe opposite the opera house a few hours before the premiere. Rademaker’s answers are in italics. (more…)

Drain of the Bavarian State Ballet Worse Than Thought

Bavarian State Ballet
Munich, Germany
July 12, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

Igor Zelensky © Wilfried HöslAccording to media reports one week ago, 18 out of a total of 69 dancers are leaving the Bavarian State Ballet at the end of this season. Names weren’t given. Yesterday the company’s press office emailed its newsletter. It contains messages of success – around 95% of seats were sold throughout the season and important pieces entered the repertoire – as well as announcements of promotions: Jonah Cook to principal, Alexander Omalchenko and Erik Murzagaliyev to first soloists, Dmitry Vyskubenko to demi soloist (Prisca Zeisel had become first soloist already in April); and that Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin will appear in Cranko’s “Shrew”.

The press office was, however, economical with the names of the ones leaving. The newsletter’s second to the last paragraph contains only seven names:
First Soloist Matêj Urban (→ Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo)
Demi Soloists: Mai Kono (→ Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal), Adam Zvonaŕ (→ Czech National Ballet, Prague)
Corps de Ballet: Nicha Rodboon (→ Royal Ballet of Flanders, Antwerp), Radka Příhodová (→ Czech National Ballet, Prague), Robin Strona (→ Semperoper Ballet, Dresden) and Gianmarco Romano (→ Finish National Ballet, Helsinki). (more…)

Why Did the Bolshoi Cancel “Nureyev”?

Bolshoi Ballet
Moscow, Russia
July 10, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

Bolshoi Theatre © Damir YusupovSaturday’s news that the Bolshoi canceled “Nureyev” three days before the ballet’s premiere on Tuesday, July 11th, and instead plans to perform its well-trodden “Don Quixote”, came as a severe blow. The ballet traces the life of ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev, who had his early career with the Kirov Ballet (today’s Maryinsky), before defecting from the Soviet Union during a tour to Paris in 1961. Nureyev became an acclaimed superstar in the West. He died in 1993, due to the consequences of AIDS.

The artistic team for “Nureyev” consists of choreographer Yuri Possokhov (a former Bolshoi dancer now resident at San Francisco Ballet), stage director Kirill Serebrennikov, composer Ilya Demutsky, music director Anton Grishanin and costume designer Elena Zaytseva. Serebrennikov is also in charge of the set design. I write in present tense as the premiere hasn’t been entirely scrapped but was postponed to May 2018. (more…)

More Than a Quarter of the Company Leaves the Bavarian State Ballet

Bavarian State Ballet
Munich, Germany
July 07, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. I.Zelensky © W.HöslTwenty-nine dancers – around forty percent of the company – left the Bavarian State Ballet last summer when Igor Zelensky took over directorship in Munich. Now, after the first year under his guidance, another 18 of 69 dancers in total (26% of the company) are leaving.

Zelensky declined an interview on this matter, communicating through his press office that two days before going into the summer break he would have no time. A few days ago he drew up a balance on his first season with the German Press Agency (Deutsche Presseagentur dpa) though including some comments on the personnel changes within the company. Those were echoed in the German press (see links below). Zelensky said, “Some [dancers] leave, some I fired. I wanted more quality according to my taste – those are no bad dancers, but I have my vision of what I want to do in the future. […] It’s a huge drama, 18 of 69 are really many. It will take much time to bind all together anew.”* In an interview with the German Press Agency this spring Zelensky had envisioned a larger ensemble, four new productions per season and more than 74 performances. Where will he now draw the resources – the dancers – from? (more…)

Works By Four Young Choreographers in Munich

“Young Choreographers”
Bavarian State Ballet
Prinzregententheater / Prince Regent Theatre
Munich, Germany
July 02, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Mama, ich kann fliegen” by D.Klein, Bavarian State Ballet 2017 © W.Hösl After a break of more than a decade the Bavarian State Ballet revived its “Young Choreographers” evenings last weekend. Of the four up-and-coming choreographers who presented their works on three consecutive nights at Munich’s Prince Regent Theatre, German-born Dustin Klein was the only one from within the ranks of the company. He was joined by the Swiss Benoît Favre, a dancer from Ballet Zurich. and two Russian colleagues: Anton Pimonov from the Maryinsky Ballet and Andrey Kaydanovskiy from the Vienna State Ballet. (more…)

Just Dance?

“Shostakovich Trilogy”
Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
June 17, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Shostakovich Trilogy” by A.Ratmansky, Dutch National Ballet 2017 © H.Gerritsen“Ted, I don’t know what you’re doing with the company,” Alexei Ratmansky said after the premiere of his “Shostakovich Trilogy” at Dutch National Ballet, “but they get better and better.” He was right to praise the dancers. Their dedication and attention to detail – and this piece is replete with details – made the evening a thorough success.

“Shostakovich Trilogy” is the sixth piece by Ratmansky to enter the company’s repertoire and, next to “Don Quichotte”, is the second full-evening one. (more…)

Searching for the Soul

“Corpus” (“disTANZ” / “Lady with a Fan”)
Ballet Zurich
Opernhaus Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland
June 10, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. F.Dell'Aria, J.Fraser, E.Wisenberg and D.Slavkovský, “disTANZ” by F.Portugal, Ballet Zurich 2017 © G.BatardonHow does the soul get into the dance? What relationship does the soul have to the body? Such were the questions, Filipe Portugal and Douglas Lee, the two choreographers of “Corpus” tried to explore in their new works. The double bill premiered at the end of May. Portugal, principal of the company, has been choreographing several years now for his Zurich colleagues as well as for Zurich’s Junior Ballet. “disTANZ”, his most recent creation, was the first on the program. Like Portugal, Lee, a Berlin-based choreographer with British roots, is familiar with the company as well. “Lady with a Fan” is his third creation for Ballet Zurich. Both Portugal and Lee choreographed group pieces. (more…)

Substance versus Effects

“Quintett” (Triple Bill: “rituals from another when” / “Kammerballett” / “Quintett”)
Ballet Zurich
Opernhaus Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland
June 09, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble and Junior Ballet Zurich, “rituals from another when” by J.Godani, Ballet Zurich 2017 © C.QuezadaUnlike its title suggests, “Quintett”, Zurich Ballet’s mixed bill which premiered in February this year, is made of not five but three pieces. William Forsythe’s “Quintett”, rarely performed choreography from 1993, lent the evening its caption. The other two ballets were “rituals from another when,” a new creation for Zurich Ballet by Jacopo Godani, and Hans van Manen’s “Kammerballett.” All three pieces were danced to recorded music. (more…)

Changes

“Don Quixote”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
June 03, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Badenes, A.Soares da Silva and ensemble, “Don Quixote” by M.Guerra, Stuttgart Ballet 2017 © Stuttgart BalletStuttgart Ballet is facing a time of great change. Just recently, artistic director Reid Anderson announced that the company will part at the end of this season with Demis Volpi, who had been its resident choreographer since 2013. Whether the contract of Marco Goecke, the company’s second in-house-choreographer, will be extended beyond summer 2018 (after which Tamas Detrich will take the reins from Anderson) is still the subject of rumors. What is certain, though, is that this season will be the last for an icon of Stuttgart Ballet. After more than seventy years as dancer, choreologist, coach, ballet master and linchpin for the company, 89-year-old Georgette Tsinguirides will retire in July. (more…)

A Masterpiece?

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
May 26, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. K.Ryshkova, “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by J.Neumeier, Bavarian State Ballet 2017 © W.Hösl Balmy nights that follow days of 86°F are ideal to get one in a dreamy midsummer night’s mood. It was just the right time for reviving John Neumeier’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s iconic comedy, as danced by the Bavarian State Ballet this May. The amorous entanglements Shakespeare invented in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” are confusingly intricate and very juicy. Theseus, the duke of Athens, is about to marry Hippolyta, the former queen of the Amazons. Oberon, king of the fairies, and Titania, his queen, have come to the forests surrounding Athens to attend the wedding. A bit short of domestic bliss, their quarrels cause great trouble among the four lovers of the human world, Lysander & Hermia and Demetrius & Helena. Chaos intensifies because of Puck, Oberon’s shrewd and knavish sprite. A group of incompetent, amateur actors, preparing to entertain the royal wedding with “Pyramus and Thisbe” adds to the overall confusion.

Neumeier streamlined the knotty story by dropping side characters and subplots and allocating distinct music to the three lifeworlds. Felix Mendelssohn’s compositions for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (and other pieces by him) accompany the events at court. The mechanicals rehearse and perform to barrel organ music. Oberon, Titania and their fairies live inside György Ligeti’s electronic soundscapes. The Mendelssohn was played live by the Bavarian State Orchestra under the baton of Michael Schmidtsdorff; of Ligeti, we heard a recorded version. James Lyttle, one of the mechanicals, played the barrel organ. (more…)

Wasted Effort?

“Gala des Étoiles”
Grand Théâtre
Luxembourg
May 20, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. D.Tamazlacaru and I.Salenko / State Ballet Berlin, “Chopiniana” by M.Fokin, Gala des Étoiles 2017 © P.Abbondanza Luxembourg, one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe, has no ballet tradition. To change this is the aim of former dancer Natascha Ipatova and Georges Rischette, both founders of the Luxembourg dance school DanceXperience. This year’s two galas on May 20th and 21st mark the fifth year in succession trying to wet the Luxembourg audience’s appetite for the art form. Unlike the suggestive title of the event, no étoiles of the Paris Opera Ballet were involved. Instead, there were leading principals and their colleagues from various international companies. (more…)

Four Dancer Nominees for the Prix Benois 2017

Prix Benois de la Danse
Bolshoi Ballet / Korean National Ballet / National Ballet of Uruguay
Moscow / Seoul / Montevideo
April 28, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Statuette of the Prix Benois de la Danse, design by I.Ustinov © Y.PokrovskyOn May 30th and 31st the Bolshoi again hosts the ceremonies of the annual Prix Benois de la Danse Galas. Prizes will be given on the first evening, while the gala on the following day will look back on highlights from the twenty-five-year history of the Prix Benois. It is already known that Marcia Haydée will be awarded the Benois Prize for Lifetime Achievement and Aurelie Dupont the Russian-Italian Prize Miroir de la Danse.

This year’s nominees include seven choreographers, six ballerinas and seven male dancers. I asked four dancers – two female, two male – about the roles which earned them the nomination: they are, alphabetically, Nina Kaptsova (Bolshoi Ballet), Jae-Woo Lee (Korean National Ballet), Maria Riccetto (National Ballet of Uruguay), and Denis Rodkin (Bolshoi Ballet).
All four were asked the same questions:
“Why was performing this role special compared to other roles you danced? What challenged you? In what perspective did the role make you grow as an artist?”

Here is what they answered: (more…)