Ballet Schools

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

Happy Birthday State Ballet School Berlin

“Jubilee-Gala”
State Ballet School Berlin
Schiller Theater
Berlin, Germany
December 03, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

Birthdays are best celebrated with friends. To make its 65th jubilee a real big party, the State Ballet School Berlin invited national and international guests to share the stage in a birthday gala. Those were: Stuttgart’s John Cranko School, the School of the Hamburg Ballet, the Ballet Academy of the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich; and from abroad the Ballet Academy of the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Danish Ballet School, St. Petersburg’s Vaganova Ballet Academy and, what I was most pleased with, the Cuban National Ballet School, hardly ever seen on these shores. Contacts with Havana are about to be intensified, Marek Rózycki, acting artistic director of the State Ballet School Berlin later told me in a telephone call. He also revealed that the guest list was intended to be even longer. The Schools from ABT, the Bolshoi, Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Ballet London and the Dance Academy Mannheim would have loved to participate but were wrapped up in their own performances. Trouble with visas had been an issue as well. (more…)

A Conversation with Tadeusz Matacz

John Cranko School
Stuttgart, Germany
September, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Tadeusz Matacz © T.Matacz The Cranko School is one of the most renowned ballet schools of the world, a talent pool known for excellence and, according to surveys at the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP), the second most favored school among students after London’s Royal Ballet School. When I arrived in Stuttgart in mid-September to find out about the school’s formula of success, I was surprised. Located in the Urbanstrasse, around 0,6 miles distance from the State Opera, the five-story building is unremarkable in the row of houses. Only a metal plate next to the entrance reveals that this is the school John Cranko founded in December 1971, ten years after he had taken over the reins of Stuttgart Ballet. (more…)

Palucca’s Legacy

Palucca University of Dance Dresden
Dresden, Germany
August, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Palucca University Dresden, main building © K.Hirsch“I could identify with the Palucca School and its values” says Brooke Squire, who is in her last year of the Bachelor program of the Palucca University in Dresden. The nineteen-year-old had started her dance training at Stuttgart’s John Cranko School, but four years ago decided to move, because “unlike in Stuttgart, where the focus is on classical ballet, in Dresden it is half on ballet, half on contemporary. We are more involved in the creative process and the teachers are open to communication.” (more…)

A Little Summit

Stuttgart Ballet’s Festival Weeks: “John Cranko School Gala”
John Cranko School
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
July 23, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Students of the John Cranko School, “The Four Seasons”: “Spring” by K.Kozielska © Stuttgart Ballet 2016Last Saturday’s gala of the John Cranko School was only expected to be the overture for the company’s big final gala on the following day. Yet it proved to be a treat in itself.
How often is new choreography made on students? On the occasion of the Ballet Festival Weeks celebrating Reid Anderson’s twentieth jubilee as artistic director of Stuttgart Ballet, four former graduates choreographed to the music of Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”, each one responsible for one season. Marco Goecke’s “A Spell on You”, also created for the Cranko School and premiered earlier this year, was shown again. Guest students from schools in Paris, London, Toronto and Hamburg allowed one to compare training, but first and foremost the event highlighted a feeling of togetherness. The gala was streamed live to the outdoor audience of “Ballet in the Park” in front of the opera house. (more…)

Promising Prospects

“The John Cranko School in the Opera House”
John Cranko School
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
May 15, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Students of the 6th class and the Academy Classes A and B, “Italiana” by N.Biasutti, John Cranko School © Stuttgart Ballet 2016While Stuttgart Ballet was touring Salzburg their home stage housed the students of the John Cranko School. This year they perform three times. I saw the second performance on the Whitsunday weekend. A third is scheduled for June 26.
Though due to the beginning of the holiday season a few seats in the opera house remained empty, the students were warmly received by the audience. Tadeusz Matacz, the school’s long-standing director, had arranged a program of tried and trusted pieces around a novelty: a world premiere by Stuttgart Ballet’s resident choreographer Marco Goecke. From the young students of the 1st class to the older graduates of the two-year Academy schooling, many had a chance to show their talents. (more…)

Some Strong Personalities

“Ballet Matinee”
John Cranko School
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
July 26, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Oki, G.Figueredo and students of the classes 3, 4 and 5, “The Naiad and the Fisherman” by J.Perrot, John Cranko School 2015 © Stuttgart Ballet On two Sundays in July students from Stuttgart’s John Cranko School took possession of the huge stage of the opera house to demonstrate their abilities in a matinee. This year’s, described as a “journey through epochs and dance styles” by the school’s director Tadeusz Matacz, offered a mix of classical and modern pieces, group dances and solos and familiar pieces as well as fresh ones. Not merely a succession of highlights but a sound program that offered the students a chance to show off their talents. On July 26 the matinee was broadcast live on a video screen in the park in front of the opera house attracting a large number of outdoor viewers. (more…)

A Colorless Mix

“Gala 2014”
Dance Foundation Birgit Keil
Forum Ludwigsburg
Ludwigsburg, Germany
November 07, 2014

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf

1. B.Andrade, Kt. F.Salamanka and ensemble, “Presente” by R.Oliveira, State Ballet Karlsruhe © J.Klenk 2014Birgit Keil, ex-prima ballerina of Stuttgart Ballet, regularly tours nearby Ludwigsburg to present her work to her former home audience. Since 1997 Keil is director and professor of Mannheim’s Academy of Dance, six years later she also took over the helm of the Baden State Ballet Karlsruhe.

The gala presented both troupes, the Karlsruhe company as well as talented dancers of the Academy. A huge part of the program was reserved for the usual array of guest artists. (more…)

Stuttgart’s Talent Pool

“Ballet Matinee”
John Cranko School of Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
July 06, 2014

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Students of the 4th and 6th class, Italiana by Nicola Biasutti, Ballet Matinee of the John Cranko School, Stuttgart 2014Stuttgart’s John Cranko School has a top notch reputation worldwide. Its director, Tadeusz Matacz, regularly crisscrosses the globe in search of talent. Past ex- perience testifies that Matacz has an instinct for picking the up-and-coming generation. What he and his team of teachers turn the juniors into is pretty impressive. Graduates of the Cranko School have a fair chance of getting engagements. Mostly they feed into the Stuttgart Ballet. This year Reid Anderson will take eight of them into the ensemble. Provided with solid technique, they usually stand their ground from the start on the Opera’s stage. (more…)