Companies

Amsterdam’s Dance Students

“Dancers of Tomorrow”
Dutch National Ballet Academy
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
July 10/11, 2021 (video)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “10 Years Tailor-Made” by I.Lešić, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021 © S.Derine End-of-year performances are a highlight for the students of any ballet school. Last weekend, the Dutch National Ballet Academy performed “Dancers of Tomorrow” on the main stage of the Dutch National Opera & Ballet for an empty auditorium due, sadly, to ongoing COVID-19-restrictions. The silver lining: a video of the performance, augmented by footage from backstage, was streamed online for two days, allowing a much larger audience to see the work. I wonder: could we include online streams and video broadcasts as a standard addendum to live performances in the future?

“Dancers of Tomorrow” was assembled from ten pieces geared to the students’ age groups and adapted or created especially for the occasion. All students participated.
2. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “Jota” by G.Tchitcherine, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021 © S.Derine The younger students from classes 1 thru 4 opened the program with “10 Years Tailor-Made”, a work featuring multi-style choreography by Iva Lešić, the teacher for world dance and creative dance. The piece included an Indonesian sitting dance for the youngest (requiring a comprehensive group dynamic and the courage to sing), a fast-paced Serbian folk dance, a Turkish group dance revolving around two enamored puppets, and a buoyant, free-spirited Hungarian dance.

Students from classes 5 – 7 shone in “Jota”, a snappy character-partner dance with Spanish influence by Grigori Tchitcherine, the teacher for classical ballet and character dance. The only thing missing was the applause that this rousing performance absolutely deserved.

3. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “New Beginning” by R.Wörtmeyer, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021 © S.Derine Remi Wörtmeyer, principal dancer and choreographer of the Dutch National Ballet, created “New Beginning” for the students of class 7. Its inventive choreography, set to Camille Saint-Saëns’s “Le Carnaval des Animaux”, combines lightness with brisk-ness. The white, blue, and yellow costumes contrast strongly with the blue backdrop, emphasizing the clearness of lines and the synchronicity of movements. Carolina Ribaldone and Vincent Fell, the central couple, worked together smoothly; Fell later showcased his suppleness and precision in a solo.

4. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “Once Remembered And Then Lost” by A.Raymoud, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021 © S.DerineThe higher-level professional students performed several works. “Once Remembered And Then Lost” was created by Amy Raymoud (a former soloist of the Dutch National Ballet and Ballet Frankfurt) and the dancers. Five young women and men in blue shorts and shirts walk together, clustered in a blob or stretched out in a line, occasionally breaking free to perform on their own. Their movements fluctuate between fluidity and edgy abruptness; expressive solos and duets intertwine with group sequences, performed in unison or individually. They are accompanied by string music and electronica from Zoë Keating.

5. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “If We Could Only Even If We Could” by A.Leine and H.Roebana, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021 © S.Derine In the fragment presented from “If We Could Only Even If We Could”, a piece by choreographer duo Andrea Leine and Harijono Roebana, twenty dancers in casual outfits perform to a percussion-rich soundscape by Han Otten and Wiebe de Boer that includes distorted country music. Their repetitive movements vacillate between jerky and smooth, between slow and lightning-quick, never revealing their intention. Lighting design by Bas de Bruijn does little to hide the fact that the choreography appears to be arbitrary. It’s the kind of modern ballet that sinks into oblivion the moment one leaves the theater.

6. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “Wanderer” by J.Arqués, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021 © S.Derine The five dancers in Juanjo Arqués’s “Wanderer” reminded me of a scouting party searching for something unknown to us. At times, the dancers prevent one another from storming ahead or support one who leans too far forward or help another to surmount an invisible obstacle. All five dance energetically and expressively: Konosuke Takeoka in his solo; Grace Humphris & Alberto Ortega de Pablos, and Nicola Jones & Guilherme Vicente in their pas de deux. A strong cast!
Sepp Grotenhuis accompanied live, performing serene piano music by David Lang.

7. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “Poulenc Suite” by E.Meisner, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021 © S.Derine Ernst Meisner, the artistic director of the Academy, challenged his students with an effervescent “Poulenc Suite” that required fine pointe work, plenty of partnering, and clean synchronicity. Jumps – among them a series of tour en l’airs – were abundant. His cast rose to the occasion, delivering a fine classical performance.

Three dancers showcased their talent in solos. In “Conceal”, a contemporary piece by Zoë Greten set to music by Régis Gobe, Nicola Jones contrasted smooth, soft movements with sharp, segmented ones, repeatedly covering her mouth as if to prevent herself from speaking out.

9. N.Jones in “Conceal” by Z.Greten, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021 © S.Derine8. A.Erlanson in “Nothing Matters When We're Dancing” by W.Scheele, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021 © S.Derine “Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing”
by Wisse Scheele made me think of ballets by Marco Goecke, though dancer Arthur Erlanson neither shivered nor trembled, instead responding with soft sensuality to a corny song for guitar by The Magnetic Fields.

I especially liked Christian Mathot in “Perihelion” because of his panache; he radiated motivation and joy. Choreographer Calista Shepheard chose Fabien Tell’s song “Something just like this” as accompaniment.
Finding joy in dancing, in being on stage, is key to a fulfilling career. The Academy’s dancers had plenty of joy.
10. C.Mathot in “Perhelion” by C.Shepheard, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021 © S.Derine

Links: Website of the Dutch National Ballet Academy
Photos 1. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “10 Years Tailor-Made” by Iva Lešić, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021
2. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “Jota” by Grigori Tchitcherine, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021
3. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “New Beginning” by Remi Wörtmeyer, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021
4. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “Once Remembered And Then Lost” by Amy Raymoud, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021
5. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “If We Could Only Even If We Could” by Andrea Leine and Harijono Roebana, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021
6. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “Wanderer” by Juanjo Arqués, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021
7. Students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, “Poulenc Suite” by Ernst Meisner, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021
8. Arthur Erlanson in “Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing” by Wisse Scheele, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021
9. Nicola Jones in “Conceal” by Zoë Greten, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021
10. Christian Mathot in “Perhelion” by Calista Shepheard, Dutch National Ballet Academy 2021
all photos © Sjoerd Derine
Editing: Jake Stepansky

A Journey Through Time

“Beauty Mixed Programme”
The Royal Ballet
Royal Opera House
London, Great Britain
July 09, 2021 (live stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. F.Hayward and C.Coralles, “Morgen” by W.McGregor, The Royal Ballet 2021 © A.Uspenski Ninety years ago, Ninette de Valois founded the Vic-Wells Ballet, which would later birth today’s Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet. The Royal Ballet celebrated the anniversary with a mixed bill that linked the past and the present, showcasing works by two pillars of the repertory – the late Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan – and works by resident choreographer Wayne McGregor, artistic associate Christopher Wheeldon, principal dancer-cum-choreographer Valentino Zucchetti, and Arthur Pita. The crown jewel of the program (more…)

“And I Have So Much to Say, But…”

“Sleeping Woman”
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
Opera House
Wuppertal, Germany
July 02, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. T.-C.Yu and ensemble, “Sleeping Woman” by R.Behr, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch 2021 © E.RodoulisPina Bausch was the heart of Tanztheater Wuppertal – and since her premature death in 2009, the company has struggled to find new leadership to shape its artistic future. The termination of Adolphe Binder’s contract as intendant and artistic director in 2018 – after only one year in office – was followed by a two-year lawsuit between her and the theater. Although Binder won the suit (and the matter was settled out of court), Binder waived her claim to the post, making way for Bettina Wagner-Bergelt. (more…)

Exploring a Romantic Dream

“Les Sylphides” (“Chopiniana”)
São Paulo Dance Company
Teatro Sérgio Cardoso
São Paulo, Brazil
June 25, 2021 (video)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. T.Prata, V.Vieira, and L.Yuk, “Les Sylphides” by A.Botafogo after M.Fokin, São Paulo Dance Company 2021 © F.KirmayrThe COVID-19 pandemic compelled the São Paulo Dance Company to postpone this June’s run of “Giselle” to September. In its place, the company has offered another gem from the romantic repertory: Mikhail Fokin’s “Les Sylphides”, newly revised by Ana Botafogo, a Brazilian actress and former principal of the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro. The performance on June 18th – attended by a live audience and broadcast online on June 25th – was presented as part of the company’s educational program and followed by a 30-minute lecture about the piece and its production. (more…)

Two Dutch Premieres

“Four Seasons” (“The Two Of Us” / “The Four Seasons”)
Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
June 15, 2021 (live broadcast)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Tsygankova and C.Allen, “The Two Of Us” by C.Wheeldon, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenJust one week after the premiere of “Prometheus”, the Dutch National Ballet premiered a second program as part of the annual Holland Festival: “Four Seasons” – a double bill comprised of Christopher Wheeldon’s “The Two Of Us” and David Dawson’s “The Four Seasons”. Two dance films created by members of the company during last year’s lockdown – “Oblivion” and “The Garden” – were shown during the break. The performance was attended by a live audience and, in addition, broadcast online.

“The Two Of Us” premiered at New York City Center’s 2020 Fall for Dance festival and paired New York City Ballet’s principal Sara Means and David Hallberg, close friends who’d never before had the chance to dance together. In Amsterdam, the duet was performed by Anna Tsygankova and Constantine Allen, depicting two tender souls unsure whether to stay together or to part.

As the curtain opens, Tsygankova is seated on the floor, her elbow resting pensively upon her knee. Allen kneels behind her, his hand touching her shoulder. He begins to walk away from her, and at that exact moment we hear the first sounds of a melancholic guitar strummed by Joni Mitchell. “I don’t know where I stand,” Mitchell sings, verbalizing Tsykankova’s state of being. (more…)

Joint Venture

“Come In” / “Inquieto”
Ballett am Rhein / São Paulo Dance Company
Düsseldorf, Germany / São Paulo, Brazil
June 11, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. G.Carvalho, “Come In” by A.Barton, Ballett am Rhein 2021 © B.StößDemis Volpi, artistic director of the Ballett am Rhein, and Inês Bogéa, the same at the São Paulo Dance Company, have known each other for years. This June, their professional relationship yielded a joint video release that featured one ensemble piece by each company. The video was available on the Ballett am Rhein’s YouTube channel from June 11-13 and can be re-watched there from June 18-20.

The Ballet am Rhein contributed a modified-for-2021 version of “Come In”, a piece for twelve men choreographed in 2006 by Aszure Barton for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Hell’s Kitchen Dance. (more…)

A Strong Comeback

Beethoven” (“Prometheus” / “Grosse Fuge”)
Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
June 08, 2021 (live broadcast)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Yamada, D.Silva, and ensemble, “Prometheus” by W.Kuindersma, E.Meisner, and R.Wörtmeyer, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenThe Dutch National Ballet’s celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday was, in fact, supposed to premiere a year ago. “We’re a little bit late,” admitted Ted Brandsen, Dutch National Ballet’s artistic director, for reasons dictated by COVID-19. The originally scheduled program would have included Toer van Schayk’s “7th Symphony”. The anniversary program that was ultimately shown on June 8th was an adaption of this program comprised of two pieces: “Prometheus” (a new creation by the choreographer-trio Wubkje Kuindersma, Ernst Meisner, and Remi Wörtmeyer) and Hans van Manen’s “Grosse Fuge”. The break was used for an excursion away from Beethoven to Milena Sidorova’s recently released dance film “Rose”. (more…)

Meager Substance

“Dance Gala Baden-Wuerttemberg”
Theater and Orchestra Heidelberg
Heidelberg, Germany
June 06, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. I.Pérez, artistic director of the Dance Biennial Heidelberg and the Dance Theater Heidelberg © S.Reichardt“Everybody Can Dance” was the motto of this year’s Dance Biennial Heidelberg, the fourth since the event’s inception. Pandemic-related restrictions pared down the three-day festival’s schedule to a few online events, crowned by a dance gala on Sunday, June 6th. Nine of Baden-Wuerttemberg’s dance companies were represented there, together contributing thirteen short pieces – nine digital and four danced live.

The Unterwegstheater Heidelberg, a small touring company whose work spans multiple genres opened the program with the video “Die nackte Wahrheit” (“The Naked Truth”). (more…)

Incongruent

“Lyssa”
The Royal Ballet & Nadine Shah
Royal Opera House
London, Great Britain
June 04, 2021 (dance film)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. N.Shah and artists of the the Royal Ballet in “Lyssa” by L.Page, The Royal Ballet 2021 © A.Verzhbinsky In late 2019, the British choreographer Lynne Page created “Death in Venice” for the Royal Opera. “Lyssa”, a twenty-or-so-minute film, features her first-ever choreography for the Royal Ballet. After a year of pandemic-induced artistic drought (and a severe lack of live music), she felt that the time was ripe for arts institutions to tackle new genres in order to reach new audiences. This project, a merger between song and dance, brings together the English singer / songwriter Nadine Shah and seventeen female dancers from the Royal Ballet. Shah sings “Trad” from her 2020 album “Kitchen Sink”, a less-than-four-minute song with very few lyrics, which has been extended to fifteen minutes in a new version featuring the orchestra of the Royal Opera House. (more…)

The Royal Ballet Re-Opens

“21st-Century Choreographers”
(“Within the Golden Hour” / Optional Family: A Divertissement” / “The Statement” / “Solo Echo”)

The Royal Ballet
Royal Opera House
London, Great Britain
May 28, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Artists of the Royal Ballet, “Within the Golden Hour” by C.Wheeldon, The Royal Ballet 2021 © B.Cooper Over half a year ago, pandemic-related restrictions forced the Royal Opera House to close its doors. On May 18th, a limited audience was finally welcomed back to see the company live on stage. The program – “21st-Century Choreographers” – consisted of four pieces: “Within the Golden Hour” by Christopher Wheeldon; “Optional Family: A Divertissement” – a new piece by Kyle Abraham; and two pieces by Crystal Pite: “The Statement” and “Solo Echo”. (more…)

Made For Film

“Young Creatives” (“Memento” / “Rose” / “I Feel It Too”)
Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
May, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. B.Stoop, D.Bai, S.Quintyn, L.Rosillo, W.Wijkstra, and M.Kumar, “Memento” by W.Kuindersma, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenFollowing the online premiere of “Metamorphosis”, the new ballet by Dutch National Ballet’s associate artist David Dawson, the company released three additional videos at the end of May. Each features a ballet film by a young creative associate: “Memento” (concept and choreography by Wubkje Kuindersma), “Rose” (direction, concept, and choreography by Milena Sidorova), and “I Feel It Too” (creative direction and choreography by Sedrig Verwoert). All three films can be viewed for free on the company’s YouTube channel until October 2021. (more…)

The Royal Ballet’s Young Choreographers

“Spring Draft Works”
The Royal Ballet
Royal Opera House
London, Great Britain
May 14, April 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. J.Junker, I.Lubach, F.Serrano, I.Gasparini, K.McNally, and T.Dubreuil, “The Morning Routine” by J.Junker, The Royal Ballet 2021 © A.UspenskiIt’s hard to imagine that the pandemic has had any positive impact on the performing arts – but, as Kevin O’Hare, the Royal Ballet’s ever-optimistic artistic director points out in his introductory comments on this season’s “Spring Draft Works” (an annual project that assembles choreographies created by the company’s dancers) – there’s a silver lining: more free time to unlock hidden choreographic potential and rehearse, and the chance to include live music. Even the renowned lighting designer Natasha Chivers had time to create clever lighting tailored to each piece. (more…)

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. (more…)

What a Mess

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