Companies

What Became of …?

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School
Teatro Nazionale
Rome, Italy
May 2021

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. G.Starace (Oberon), C.Onesti (Titania), and ensemble, “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by A.Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Y.KageyamaEarlier this May, the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma unearthed an archival recording of a 2014 performance by the opera’s ballet school: Shakespeare’s romantic comedy (or, rather, satire on romantic comedy) “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, choreographed and directed by Alessandra Delle Monache. Her genre-spanning production is grounded by the explanations of a narrator (Giulia Tomaselli, a student of the Accademia Nazionale D’Arte Drammatica Silvio d’Amico, Rome) who helps us sort out the tangle of romances blossoming in the forests outside Athens. It’s an understandable move, since – unlike in other productions – two of the four couples (Hermia & Lysander, Helena & Demetrius) are dressed so similarly that mixing them up is inevitable.

What has become of the young dancers seven years later? Three of them agreed to a short interview: Valerio Marisca, Gioacchino Starace, and Alessandro Vinci. (Unfortunately, none of the female dancers who I reached out to wanted to contribute a statement.) Their responses are below:

2. V.Marisca (Bottom), A.Vinci (Puck), G.Starace (Oberon), C.Onesti (Titania), and ensemble, “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by A.Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Y.KageyamaValerio Marisca danced the weaver-cum-actor Nick Bottom, whose head is transformed into that of a donkey by the mischievous sprite Puck. Titania, Queen of the Fairies, falls in helter-skelter love with him – Puck’s doing, but accomplished at the instruction of his master Oberon, King of the Fairies.

What memories do you have of the performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream? Were there any special incidents or surprising moments that have stuck in your mind?
I have some nice memories of the Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was the last show with the school of the Rome Opera House, a few months after the graduation. I really enjoyed 3. C.Onesti (Titania), V.Marisca (Bottom), and ensemble, “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by A.Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Y.Kageyamaplaying the role of Bottom. Alessandra Delle Monache, the choreographer, helped me to find the right comic features of the character, especially when Bottom’s head is transformed into that of a donkey by Puck. Dancing with the donkey mask was not so comfortable; it was very heavy and it was not so easy to find a way to make it look “natural.” I’m very grateful to Laura Comi, the director of the school, and Alessandra Delle Monache for giving me this role, which helped my artistic growth.

5. V.Marisca in a costume of “Nuit Blanche” by S.Beartaud © V.Marisca4. V.Marisca and ensemble, “Hearts and Arrows” by B.Millepied, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma 2019 © Y.KageyamaWhat direction has your career taken since then?
After graduating from the school of the Rome Opera House in 2015, I became a member of the ballet company of the Rome Opera house under the direction of Eleonora Abbagnato. In these years I have had many opportunities to dance masterpieces of great choreographers like William Forsythe, Angelin Preljocaj, Benjamin Millepied, Jerome Robbins, Kenneth MacMillan, and more.


6. C.Onesti (Titania) and G.Starace (Oberon), “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by A.Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Y.KageyamaGioacchino Starace
danced Oberon, who caused the mix-up after flying into a rage at his wife Titania’s refusal to relinquish a boy in her charge. He decides to humiliate her by sending Puck to fetch a love-in-idleness (commonly known as a pansy) and spread its magical juice on her eyelids, making her fall in love with the first living creature she perceives upon awakening.

What memories do you have of the performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream?
I remember that I was in the 8th grade, the last year, at the Rome Opera House Ballet School.
I felt a great joy when I learnt that I would dance the main male role of the Midsummer Night’s Dream as first cast. I felt very lucky and, at the same time, I felt the weight of responsibility to represent this prestigious school.

8. G.Starace, “Boléro” by M.Béjart, Teatro alla Scala 2019 ©️ Teatro alla Scala / M.Brescia & R.Amisano7. G.Starace (Gaston Rieux) and ensemble, “Lady of the Camellias” by J.Neumeier, Teatro alla Scala 2017 ©️ Teatro alla Scala / M.Brescia & R.AmisanoWhat direction has your career taken since then?
At the end of my time at the school many good things happened in my life.
Right after graduation I joined the corps de ballet of Teatro alla Scala in Milan where I had the privilege of being able to dance and interpret many roles in some ballets that I would define as masterpieces, such as the “Boléro” by Maurice Béjart, “La Dame aux Camélias” by John Neumeier, and “The Sleeping Beauty“ by Rudolf Nureyev, sharing the stage with etoiles like Roberto Bolle, Polina Semionova, and Svetlana Zakharova.

I also worked with choreographers like Mauro Bigonzetti, Wayne McGregor, Jiří Kylián, Hans Van Manen, Nacho Duato, and Heinz Spoerli.

9. A.Vinci (Puck) and ensemble, “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by A.Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Y.KageyamaAlessandro Vinci danced the impish Puck as a brash fairy spirit (rather than an obedient servant) who flits about the enchanted wood, swinging the love-in-idleness and messing up Oberon’s instructions.

What memories do you have of the performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream?
When I first played the role of Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, I was in my last year at Rome Opera House School; hence, it was a unique and satisfying experience especially because it was the last important role before graduation. That was possible thanks to choreographer Alessandra Delle Monache and my director Laura Comi, who placed a lot of trust in me. Puck was a very comfortable role, since he is a funny and nice character, but the role is also full of technical difficulties that often challenged me.

I remember that a week before the first show I suffered from an ankle injury that caused me a lot of worries and fears of not being able to perform a role into which I had put so much effort. Nevertheless, I managed to fulfill my duties with determination and, above all, happiness.

11. A.Vinci, Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude” by W.Forsythe, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma 2016 © Y.Kageyama 10. A.Vinci and ensemble, “Hearts and Arrows” by B.Millepied, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma 2019 © Y.KageyamaWhat direction has your career taken since then?
After graduation, I became a member of the dance company of the Rome Opera House, directed by Eleonora Abbagnato. Since that moment, I have had the great chance to play a lot of very important roles both as soloist and lead dancer.

The video of the performance will be available for free on the YouTube channel of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma for approximately one year.
12. G.Tomaselli (Narrator) and ballet ensemble, “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by A.Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Y.Kageyama

Links: Website of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (video)
Photos: 1. Gioacchino Starace (Oberon), Carlotta Onesti (Titania), and ensemble, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Alessandra Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Yasuko Kageyama
2. Valerio Marisca (Bottom), Alessandro Vinci (Puck), Gioacchino Starace (Oberon), Carlotta Onesti (Titania), and ensemble, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Alessandra Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Yasuko Kageyama
3. Carlotta Onesti (Titania), Valerio Marisca (Bottom), and ensemble, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Alessandra Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Yasuko Kageyama
4. Valerio Marisca and ensemble, “Hearts and Arrows” by Benjamin Millepied, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma 2019 © Yasuko Kageyama
5. Valerio Marisca in a costume of “Nuit Blanche” by Sebastien Beartaud © Valerio Marisca
6. Carlotta Onesti (Titania) and Gioacchino Starace (Oberon), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Alessandra Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Yasuko Kageyama
7. Gioacchino Starace (Gaston Rieux) and ensemble, “Lady of the Camellias” by John Neumeier, Teatro alla Scala 2017 ©️ Teatro alla Scala / Marco Brescia & Rudy Amisano
8. Gioacchino Starace, “Boléro” by Maurice Béjart, Teatro alla Scala 2019 ©️ Teatro alla Scala / Marco Brescia & Rudy Amisano
9. Alessandro Vinci (Puck) and ensemble, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Alessandra Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Yasuko Kageyama
10. Alessandro Vinci and ensemble, “Hearts and Arrows” by Benjamin Millepied, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma 2019 © Yasuko Kageyama
11. Alessandro Vinci, Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude” by William Forsythe, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma 2016 © Yasuko Kageyama
12. Giulia Tomaselli (Narrator) and ballet ensemble, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Alessandra Delle Monache, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet School 2014 © Yasuko Kageyama
Editing: Jake Stepansky

 

What a Mess

“The Order of the King”
Ural Opera Ballet
Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
Ekaterinburg, Russia
May 02, April 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Klekovkin (The King) and ensemble, “The Order of the King” by V.Samodurov, Ural Opera Ballet 2021 © O.Kerelyuk / Ural Opera Ballet “The Order of the King” – choreographed in 2018 for the Ural Opera Ballet by its artistic director Vyacheslav Samodurov – won two Golden Mask awards last year. Samodurov was awarded the prize for Best Choreographer and set designer Aleksei Kondratiev the prize for Best Designer in Musical Theatre. The ambitious two-act production marked the bicentennial of Marius Petipa’s birth and was staged according to his templates, augmented by additional historic analysis and scientific research. (more…)

Uplifting

“The Sleeping Beauty”
Czech National Ballet
The National Theatre
Prague, Czech Republic
April 29, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1.A.Fujii (Fairy of Wisdom), A.Pera (Fairy of Grace), E.V.Gonzales (Fairy of Force), R.Zvonařová (Lilac Fairy), M.Hejduková (Fairy of Beauty), K.Němečková (Fairy of Eloquence), P.Holeček (Carabosse), and ensemble, “The Sleeping Beauty” by M.Haydée after M.Petipa, Czech National Ballet 2021 © S.Gherciu It is nearly impossible to mount a three-act full-ensemble classic in the midst of a pandemic – or at least it has been for many companies. That the Czech National Ballet accomplished this feat feels like a harbinger of better times to come. Last Thursday, on World Dance Day, they premiered “The Sleeping Beauty” on their YouTube channel. The video will be online until May 5th. (more…)

Nuremberg’s Junior Choreographers (III)

Exquisite Corpse Extra” (episode 3)
Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg

State Theater
Nuremberg, Germany
April 24, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. V.Ketelslegers, “The Path” by C.Ide, Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg 2021 © B.StößThe final program of the three-part “Exquisite Corpse Extra” project by the Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg was comprised of four short contemporary pieces by six young choreographers: Chisato Ide, Bo Jacobs, and Oscar Alonso (who created one piece each) and Michael García, Victor Ketelslegers, and Ana Tavares (who created a joint work). As with the previous presentations (episode 1, episode 2), the program lasted for around a half hour and was accompanied by videos in which the choreographers commented on their work. (more…)

Let’s Party!

“Brahms Party”
Ural Opera Ballet
Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
Ekaterinburg, Russia
April 2021 (video)

 

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Brahms Party” by A.Pimonov, Ural Opera Ballet 2021 © O.Kerelyuk / Ural Opera Ballet Last season, two of the Ural Opera Ballet’s programs were nominated for Golden Mask awards in several categories: “Walpurgisnacht” by George Balanchine (which was shown in a double bill with “Brahms Party” by Anton Pimonov) and “The Order of the King”, a full-evening piece by the company’s artistic director Vyacheslav Samodurov. Though the pandemic halted the festival the first time around, the company brought both productions to the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre as part of this season’s festival in mid-April. (more…)

Nuremberg’s Junior Choreographers (II)

“Exquisite Corpse Extra” (episode 2)
Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg
State Theater
Nuremberg, Germany
April 17, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Nunes and L.Axel, “Indoor” by L.Axel, Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg 2021 © B.StößThe second part of the State Ballet Nuremberg’s “Exquisite Corpse Extra” project featured works by four aspiring choreographers: Lucas Axel, Sarah-Lee Chapman, Kate Gee, and Sofie Vervaecke. As with the first part, the program lasted for around a half hour and was accompanied by videos of the dancers commenting on their work.

The opening piece was by Brazilian-born Axel, who received his training at the Bolshoi Theater School in Joinville/Brazil and danced with three companies in São Paulo before moving to Germany. There, he joined the ballet of the State Theater Augsburg, later moving to Nuremberg’s company. He describes himself as having struggled with anxiety since the age of ten. This experience was one grounding focus of his choreography – depression, anxiety, and death. (more…)

Marijn Rademaker Turns to Choreography

Verklärte Nacht” (“Transfigured Night”)
Ballet Dortmund

Theater Dortmund
Dortmund, Germany
April 17, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Uzunova and L.Kalbusch, “Verklärte Nacht” (“Transfigured Night”) by M.Rademaker, Ballet Dortmund 2021 © L.JanuszewskiFour years ago, Marijn Rademaker told me about his excitement to return to the stage after a long break resulting from injury. At that time, he was involved in umpteen other projects, yet had not given any indication that he wanted to try his hand at choreography or direction – but, as with any seed, talent can sprout in hiding.

This Saturday, Rademaker presented the first result of his new ambition: “Verklärte Nacht” (“Transfigured Night”), a contemporary ballet-film set to Arnold Schoenberg’s eponymous thirty-minute composition, created in collaboration with the Academy for Theatre and Digitality, Dortmund, and the filmmaker Mathieu Gremillet. It was danced by the Ballet Dortmund. (more…)

Nuremberg’s Junior Choreographers (I)

“Exquisite Corpse Extra” (episode 1)
Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg
State Theater
Nuremberg, Germany
April 10, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. C. Blanco, “Me Inside Me” by C.Blanco, Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg 2021 © B.StößThirteen of the State Theater Nuremberg’s twenty-one dancers tried their hand at choreography this season, resulting in eleven new contemporary pieces split over three programs. The first of these programs premiered last Saturday; the remaining two will be broadcast online on upcoming weekends.
The first program (approximately 30 minutes) was assembled from three short pieces: a solo (choreographed and danced by Carlos Blanco) and two ensemble works (one by Edward Nunes and one by Andy Fernández). Each choreographer commented on their work in an accompanying video. (more…)

Dancers’ Choice

Spring Special”
Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
April 05, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. N.Tonoli, S.Yamada, J.Spunda, and S.Leverashvili (Peasants), “Giselle“ by M.Petipa after J.Coralli and J.Perrot, production and additional choreography by R.Beaujean and R.Bustamante, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenFor most artists, the flow of opportunities for performance on home stages or abroad has either thinned to a trickle or dried up altogether since the onset of the pandemic. The Dutch National Ballet filled some of those gaps with a “Spring Special” -gala that featured a selection of ten short pieces in total – eight excerpts from the company’s existing repertory, one new acquisition, and one world premiere. Each dancer was able to choose which piece to perform in (with appropriate attention to pandemic-related restrictions of group size). All of the principals, several soloists, and one member of the corps de ballet participated. The gala was streamed live on April 5th. A second broadcast is scheduled for April 10, 2021 (more…)

Saucy

In and Out”
Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
March / April 2021 (online video)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Mardegan (center) and members of the Junior Company, “In and Out” by H.van Manen, Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenAlthough the Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company hoped to tour Hans van Manen’s “In and Out” in spring 2020, their plan was shattered by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, though, the current members of the Junior Company revived the short ballet on the Dutch National Ballet & Opera’s main-stage. The performance was recorded and can be viewed for free until April 25, 2021 on the company’s website.

(more…)

Necessity Yields Virtue

“Puppet” / “ Dos Soles Solos”
Czech National Ballet
The National Theatre
Prague, Czech Republic
March 18 and 25, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1) F.Scarpato, “Puppet” by D.Lee, Czech National Ballet 2021 © M.Divíšek The Czechs’ are clearly adept at making films – no matter the genre. Last December, the Czech National Ballet danced a heartwarming “The Nutcracker – A Christmas Carol”, which was broadcast live on national television and on YouTube. This March, they premiered recordings of two short new pieces on their YouTube channel. The works – “Puppet” by Douglas Lee and “Dos Soles Solos” by Alejandro Cerrudo – are well worth watching. They are part of a triple bill (the third, yet-to-be released piece is by Cayetano Soto) that will be performed for an in-person audience whenever Czech theaters are allowed to re-open for the public. Martin Kubala, the filmmaker who oversaw the recording, expertly captured the production from interesting angles and distances. (more…)

Leader(s) and Followers

“Five Years and Three Days With Makhar Vaziev”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
February 26, 2021 (documentary)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. I.Tsvirko and M.Vaziev after a performance of “Ivan the Terrible”, “Ivan the Terrible” by Y. Grigorovich, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / G.Uféras This year marks the fifth season with Makhar Vaziev as head of the Bolshoi Ballet. Upon this occasion, the Bolshoi Theatre released the TV documentary “Five Years and Three Days with Makhar Vaziev”, which is also available on YouTube (and includes English subtitles). For three days at the end of January, a film crew followed Vaziev from meeting to rehearsal to performance and back again, conducting several interviews along the way. Despite COVID-19, everyday work has continued at the Bolshoi. We witness the company’s preparations for two revivals: a performance of “Nureyev”, supervised by its stage director and set designer Kirill Serebrennikov, and a re-run of Sergei Vikharev’s version of “Coppélia(more…)

Weighty

“The Winter’s Tale”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
April 06, 2019 (matinee and evening performance)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2019 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E. Svolkin, L. Timoshenko, O. Smirnova, and D. Savin, “The Winter's Tale” by C. Wheeldon, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / D. YusupovThe Bolshoi Ballet recently added Christopher Wheeldon’s “The Winter’s Tale” to their repertoire – and what a fortunate choice that was! It is a co-production of the Royal Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada, and premiered in London in 2014. It’s strange that such a strong piece of work is only now being performed by a third company.

The ballet is based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name – one of his intricately-plotted later works, which is classified as a comedy despite its (more…)

In the Running

“Ekman / Goecke / Naharin”
Ballet of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
Moscow, Russia
March 23, 2019

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2019 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E. Mikirticheva and ensemble, “Tyll” by A. Ekman, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre 2019 © S. Avvakum No fewer than three pieces of the Stanislavsky Ballet’s repertoire were nominated for this year’s Golden Mask award: “Tyll” by Alexander Ekman, “Lonesome George” by Marco Goecke, and “Minus 16” by Ohad Naharin. On top of that, the company’s senior principal, Oksana Kardash, is nominated twice for her performances in “Tyll” and “Lonesome George”.
The Golden Mask Festival is in full swing in Moscow, presenting the most significant productions of all genres of theater from all over Russia. The winners will be announced on April 16 at an awards ceremony in the Bolshoi Theatre. (more…)

Growing With the Legacy

Coppélia”
Bolshoi Ballet

Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
March 23, 2019 (matinee)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2019 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A. Loparevich, “Coppélia” by M. Petipa and E. Cecchetti, revival and new choreographic version by S. Vikharev, Bolshoi Ballet 2019 © Bolshoi Ballet / E. FetisovaWhat would Sergei Vikharev have thought of his “Coppélia” if he had watched the matinee on March 23? For one thing, he wouldn’t appreciate my calling the work “his”, as it is Petipa’s and his assistant Cecchetti’s 1884 choreography that Vikharev, together with ballet scholar Pavel Gershenzon, meticulously revived from Nicholas Sergeiev’s notation. Vikharev’s reconstruction premiered in 2009 with the Bolshoi Ballet with an updated revival planned for 2018/19. However, fate struck in the summer of 2017 when Vikharev, only fifty-five years old, died from an adverse reaction to anesthetic during a dental treatment. As a result, the company re-staged the 2009 version. (more…)