Companies

Inadequate

“The Sleeping Beauty”
State Ballet Berlin
Deutsche Oper
Berlin, Germany
June 24, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. K.Ovsyanick (Princess Aurora) and ensemble, “The Sleeping Beauty” by M.Haydée after M.Petipa, State Ballet Berlin 2022 © Y.RevazovThis May, the State Ballet Berlin premiered Marcia Haydée’s version of “The Sleeping Beauty” after twice postponing the 2020 production – first due to a lack of preparation, and later due to the pandemic. At the time of the piece’s creation in 1987, Haydée had just taken over the reins of Stuttgart Ballet as its artistic director. “The Sleeping Beauty” was her choreographic debut and – aided by Jürgen Rose’s (aesthetically and financially) overwhelming set and costumes – was a grandiose success.

Since then, several other companies have tackled Haydée’s interpretation (currently: the Czech National Ballet and Les Grand Ballets Canadiens Montréal), but usually opt to use a more reasonably priced designer. So did the State Ballet Berlin when commissioning set and costumes from Jordi Roig. With a few exceptions – the less than upscale outfits worn by the four princes; the King and Queen’s more stiff-than-sumptuous velvet robes; the graying (dust-covered?) antique pink fabrics – the costumes offered what one might expect from a traditional “Sleeping Beauty”. I liked Roig’s decision to place the baroque royal palace on the border of a park, but felt that – for whatever reason – the scenic design looked more like a scrappy theater set than a fairy tale kingdom.

2. D.Tamazlacaru (Carabosse), “The Sleeping Beauty” by M.Haydée after M.Petipa, State Ballet Berlin 2022 © Y.RevazovWhile Petipa’s ballets have been impervious to the march of time, Haydée’s changes to his choreography have not. One of her main inventions – presenting the wicked fairy Carabosse as fascinatingly androgynous – is less impactful given the shift in visibility of the LGBTQ+ community over time. Moreover, Haydée’s confrontation between Prince Desiré and Carabosse in an extended good-versus-evil fight seems more a lame sham than climactic vision scene. Nevertheless, the well-prepared Dinu Tamazlacaru did his best to bring Carabosse’s malicious power into the theater, furiously dashing through the royal party, his wide Kabuki-pants billowing. Elisa Carrillo Cabrera’s Lilac Fairy was undaunted in her defiance of his attack. She brought a deep generosity and placidity to her efforts to guide the royal junior couple. Her companions included Luciana Voltolini as a cautious Fairy of Beauty, Eloise Sacilotto as a beaming Fairy of Wisdom, and Aya Okumura as a snappy Fairy of Force. Thwarted by lethargic musical accompaniment, Alizée Sicre’s Fairy of Grace could only measuredly share her gift. Marina Kanno twisted her torso excitedly to and fro as an all-aflutter Fairy of Eloquence.

3. D.Motta Soares (Prince Désiré), “The Sleeping Beauty” by M.Haydée after M.Petipa, State Ballet Berlin 2022 © Y.RevazovKsenia Ovsyanick’s Aurora remained composed and rather ordinary until the moment that Prince Désiré (David Motta Soares) kissed her awake. His aura not only transformed her into a charismatic beauty, but also lifted the entire energy of the performance. Motta Soares, till this spring a leading soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet, honed his skills with the late Vladimir Nikonov, Ruslan Skvortsov, and Vitaly Breysenko. His technical prowess alone distinguished him from the rest of the cast. Most importantly, though, Motta Soares seemed to be the only performer who knew that dance has a soul and who was able to project that soul to the audience. None of Aurora’s other suitors (Alexandre Cagnat, Cameron Hunter, Marco Arena, and Konstantin Lorenz) were on par with him in the slightest. The Bluebird (Alexander Bird) missed out on his chance to shine at the wedding festivities, delivering a dreadful performance instead. Jun Ishii’s Ali Baba had dazzling tricks in store, but whether he can dance …well, that deserves closer examination. I liked best Alexander Abdukarimov’s brazen Puss in Boots; he eventually conquered Cécilie Kaltenbach’s coquettish White Cat. Other wedding guests included Red Riding Hood (Alizée Sicre) and the wolf (Oleksandr Shpak), Snow White (Pauline Voisard) and the seven dwarfs (students of the State Ballet School Berlin), Princess Florine (Yuria Isaka), and Ali Baba’s four gems (Weronika Frodyma, Luciana Voltolini, Aya Okumura, and Julia Golitsina), whose tutus sparkled more than their dancing.

The Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, playing under the baton of Robert Reimer, gave Tchaikovsky’s score a surprisingly uninspired rendition, marred by humdrum pacing, a lack of flow, and a jarring triangle.
3. A.Okumura (Fairy of Force), A.Sicre (Fairy of Grace), E.Carrillo Cabrera (Lilac Fairy), L.Voltolini (Fairy of Beauty), E.Godunova (Fairy of Wisdom), I.Balova (Fairy of Eloquence), and ensemble, “The Sleeping Beauty” by M.Haydée after M.Petipa, State Ballet Berlin 2022 © Y.Revazov

Links: Website of the State Ballet Berlin
Trailer “The Sleeping Beauty”
Rehearsal “The Sleeping Beauy” (video)
Photos: Photo 4 shows a partially different cast from an earlier performance.
  1. Ksenia Ovsyanick (Princess Aurora) and ensemble, “The Sleeping Beauty” by Marcia Haydée after Marius Petipa, State Ballet Berlin 2022
2. Dinu Tamazlacaru (Carabosse), “The Sleeping Beauty” by Marcia Haydée after Marius Petipa, State Ballet Berlin 2022
3. David Motta Soares (Prince Désiré), “The Sleeping Beauty” by Marcia Haydée after Marius Petipa, State Ballet Berlin 2022
4. Aya Okumura (Fairy of Force), Alizée Sicre (Fairy of Grace), Elisa Carrillo Cabrera (Lilac Fairy), Luciana Voltolini (Fairy of Beauty), Evelina Godunova (Fairy of Wisdom), Iana Balova (Fairy of Eloquence), and ensemble, “The Sleeping Beauty” by Marcia Haydée after Marius Petipa, State Ballet Berlin 2022
all photos © Yan Revazov
Editing: Jake Stepansky

 

“The Cherry on a Sundae”

“Harlequinade”
The Australian Ballet
Arts Center Melbourne / State Theatre
Melbourne, Australia
June 24, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. B.Bemet (Columbine), B.Chynoweth (Harlequin), and ensemble, “Harlequinade” by M.Petipa, additional choreography by A.Ratmansky; The Australian Ballet 2022 © J.Busby“The cherry on a sundae” – that’s what the Australian Ballet’s artistic director David Hallberg called “Harlequinade”, the latest (and this season’s last) addition to the company’s repertoire. “Harlequinade” – a popular Petipa-ballet in imperial Russia – premiered in 1900 in St. Petersburg, and was last performed in its original form at the end of the 1920s. Working from the notations and numerous other documents archived in the Nikolai Sergeyev collection at Harvard University, Alexei Ratmansky and his wife Tatiana reconstructed the choreography just as he has done with previous Petipa classics. American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and the Australian Ballet collaborated on the revival. Four years after its premiere at Costa Mesa, California, the two-act commedia dell’arte romp finally hit Melbourne’s stage. I saw the livestream presented on June 24th by Catherine Murphy and Hallberg. (more…)

Life Support

“common ground[s]” / “Le Sacre du printemps”
École des Sables / Pina Bausch Foundation / Sadler’s Wells
Forum Ludwigsburg
Ludwigsburg, Germany
June 17, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. G.Acogny and M.Airaudo, “common ground[s]” by M.Airaudo and G.Acogny, 2022, photo M.Vanden Abeele © Pina Bausch FoundationSince Pina Bausch’s death thirteen years ago, the Pina Bausch Foundation – chaired by Bausch’s son Salomon – has worked hard to keep her oeuvre alive. Some attempts were successful (I’m thinking of the Bavarian State Ballet’s “Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen”, for example), while others failed. In a recent project, the Foundation joined forces with the École des Sables, a dance training center in Senegal, and Sadler’s Wells. The result was a double bill comprised of the new pas de deux “common ground[s]” and Bausch’s 1975 work “Le Sacre du printemps” that premiered in Senegal before setting off for a tour through Europe. I saw the first of three total performances at the Ludwigsburg Castle Festival. (more…)

An Asset

“Kunstkamer”
The Australian Ballet
Arts Center Melbourne / State Theatre
Melbourne, Australia
June 10, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

 1. Ensemble, “Kunstkamer” by S,León, P,Lightfoot, C,Pite, and M.Goecke; The Australian Ballet 2022 © J.BusbyAustralian audiences aren’t particularly familiar with the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT). Australian Ballet artistic director David Hallberg scored a coup by adding to their repertory “Kunstkamer” – a dance theater piece created in 2019 on the occasion of NDT’s 60th anniversary and as yet never danced by another company. (The Australian Ballet celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.) And Hallberg was not only able to import a collaboration between four of NDT’s defining choreographers (Paul Lightfoot and Sol León – until 2020 the company’s figureheads – as well as associate choreographers Crystal Pite and Marco Goecke), but also used this as a chance to interrupt his retirement from the stage and participate in the piece himself. Putting aside the director’s scepter to take on a role that was weird rather than flattering required courage – which Hallberg mustered. To me, it seems there was no better way to deepen his connection to the dancers. (more…)

Co-Evolution

“LAB-WORKS 2022” (“Children of the Night” / “Oh Captain” / “This Too Shall Pass” / “Die Nacht”)
State Ballet Berlin
Komische Oper
Berlin, Germany
June 09, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Children of the Night” by A.Abdukarimov, State Ballet Berlin 2022 © O.KollmannspergerFor many young dancers, it can be incredibly difficult to join a company right after ballet school. There have been many efforts to smooth this transition (for example, years ago the Dutch National Ballet, Bavarian State Ballet, and Hamburg Ballet established junior troupes) – including last fall’s launch by the State Ballet Berlin of the ten-month ENHANCE Mentorship Program for graduates of the State Ballet School Berlin. The program provides individualized mentoring by dancers from different ranks of the ensemble (Soraya Bruno, Anneli Chasemore, Arshak Ghalumyan, Mehmet Yumak, Aurora Dickie, and others) and culminates in a final performance called “LAB_WORKS”. This series was introduced in 2019 to showcase choreographies created during the lockdown. This June, the company presented “LAB_WORKS 2022” – comprised of four new ballets by aspiring choreographers from within the company. Eleven program fellows and various members of the main company danced the four works. (more…)

Astonishing

“CREATIONS VII-IX” (“Self-deceit” / “Reflection/s” / “Ifima”)
Stuttgart Ballet
Play House of the State Theater Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
May 29, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. H.Erikson, “Reflection/s” by R.Novitzky, Stuttgart Ballet 2022 © Stuttgart BalletStuttgart Ballet’s recent premiere – “CREATIONS VII-IX” – continues the CREATION series launched in 2019. I was waylaid by several highway traffic jams on my way to the theater and arrived five minutes late, missing the triple bill’s first piece: Vittoria Girelli’s “Self-deceit”. As such, I can only comment on Roman Novitzky’s “Reflection/s” and “Ifima” by the choreographer duo Louis Stiens and Shaked Heller.

“Reflection/s” marks Novitzky’s retirement from an almost two-decade-long career as a dancer. Born in Slovakia, he danced with their National Ballet before joining the Stuttgart Ballet in 2009. Six years later, he was promoted to principal and made his first steps as a choreographer. On top of dancing and choreographing, Novitzky also became one of Stuttgart Ballet’s photographers. He was always busy and – if I interpreted his program-note interview correctly – rarely relaxed. (more…)

To Be Trimmed

“Naharin / Clug / Montero”
Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg
State Theater
Nuremberg, Germany
May 14, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Submerge” by G.Montero, Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg 2022 © J.VallinasThe new triple bill from the State Theater Nuremberg’s ballet company combines three established names: Edward Clug, Ohad Naharin, and the company’s artistic director Goyo Montero. Each contributed a piece from their collection.

Montero re-worked his “Submerge” for Nuremberg – enlarging it from its original eleven dancers (from Zurich’s 2018 Junior Ballet) to a 19-strong ensemble. Barely discernable in the foggy gloom, they wait motionless at the rear of the stage, their eyes fixed on something in the distance. Together they walk forward, staring into the bright glow of the pit, at once an attraction and terror. Simultaneously, they step into the light, as if crossing into a moment of courage. For those in the audience who haven’t consulted the program booklet in advance, the next scene (in which the dancers undulate their limbs like gently floating seaweed) reveals the subject of this piece: deep-sea diving. A scuba diving course in 2018 served as Montero’s source of inspiration. (more…)

Wrongdoings

“The Seven Sins”
Gauthier Dance
Theaterhaus Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
May 08, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Corrupt” by S.L.Cherkaoui, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.BakThose who aren’t well-versed in the dos and don’ts of Christianity might find a visit to the Theaterhaus Stuttgart to be worthwhile. Their recent premiere – “The Seven Sins” – translates each of the capital vices into a short piece of dance by a different choreographer.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s “Corrupt” deals with the first capital sin: greed. Accompanied by an extensive pre-recorded lecture on the nature of greed, nine dancers squirm and writhe, sabotage and manipulate. We hear about the Buddhist way of freeing ourselves from greed; about greed’s connection to hate and ignorance; about the upsides and downsides of wanting something; and about the impact of money. At times, their arms stretch outwards, as if attempting to escape the self-made prison. Cash is their sacred cow; bundles of crumpled notes bulge from the pockets of their dark suits, decorating their arms like bracelets and being exchanged by the handful. (more…)

Magnificent!

“Raymonda”
Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
May 06, 2022 (stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. T.van Poucke, S.Velichko (Jean de Brienne), M.ten Kortenaar, and ensemble, “Raymonda” by R.Beaujean after M.Petipa, Dutch National Ballet 2022 © M.Haegeman A mid-January newsletter from the Dutch National Ballet did little to hide the company’s disappointment at having to postpone their premiere of “Raymonda” from mid-February to early April. At the time, ongoing COVID-19 restrictions made uncertain the possibility of re-opening the house at full-capacity, but artistic director Ted Brandsen wanted the production – the biggest of the season – to be seen by as many people as possible. So he chose to wait.

Brandsen’s patience paid off. I watched the online stream on May 6th (filmed on April 19th) and from the moment the new front curtain rose (itself a gorgeous art nouveau design), it was instantly clear that this “Raymonda” would be a marvel. (more…)

Haydn Makes it Possible

“Die Jahreszeiten” (“The Seasons”)
Vienna State Ballet
Vienna State Opera
Vienna, Austria
April 30, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. D.Dato, H.-J.Kang, and M.Menha, “Die Jahreszeiten” by M.Schläpfer, Vienna State Ballet 2022 © Vienna State Ballet / A.TaylorThe third premiere of the Vienna State Ballet in this season – “Die Jahreszeiten” (“The Seasons”) – is entirely by Schläpfer. Past experience with his oeuvre made me skeptical of this new work, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The piece is set to Joseph Haydn’s 1801 oratorio “The Seasons” (which coincidentally also premiered in Vienna), for which Gottfried van Swieten penned lyrics based on extracts from a poem by James Thomson. Thomson’s verses describe the ordinary daily and seasonal life on the countryside: spring thaw and early field work, the lush countryside, harvest time, and a sudden thunderstorm, which cools down the sweltering summer heat. An autumnal hunt is followed by cheers for the new wine. Amidst winter gloom and the coziness of a warm cottage a fleeting romance blossoms. (more…)

Homage to Iván Nagy

“6th Iván Nagy International Ballet Gala”
Ballet of the Hungarian State Opera
Hungarian State Opera
Budapest, Hungary
April 23, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. T.Solymosi and O.Chernakova, Ballet of the Hungarian State Opera 2022 © A.Nagy / Hungarian State Opera Iván Nagy (1943 – 2014), a ballet dancer born and trained in Hungary, rose to stardom as a principal for the American Ballet Theatre in the 1970s. He later embarked on a second career as an artistic director – first at the Ballet de Santiago, and subsequently at the Cincinnati/New Orleans Ballet and the English National Ballet. In his final years, he returned to his homeland to support the ballet of the Hungarian State Opera as an artistic advisor. Since 2015, the company has paid tribute to him at a yearly international gala, which was canceled due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. (more…)

A Whole Lot

“Without Limits”
Ballet of the Hungarian State Opera
Eiffel Arts Center
Budapest, Hungary
April 23, 2022 (matinee)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Students from the Hungarian National Ballet Institute, “Paquita Suite” by T.Solymosi, A.Mirzoyan, and I.Prokofieva after M.Petipa; Ballet of the Hungarian State Opera 2022 © P.Rákossy / Hungarian State Opera The new triple bill from the Hungarian State Opera’s ballet company, aptly titled “Without Limits”, certainly offers a whopping amount of dance. Harald Lander’s “Études” (1948), a one-act homage to the formal classical technique, contrasts with William Forsythe’s sprightly “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude” (1996). A new version of another purely classical ballet Marius Petipa’s Paquita Grand Pas (“Paquita Suite”) – opened the program. “Without Limits” was shown at the Eiffel Arts Center, a former railway maintenance and engineering complex transformed in 2020 into the Hungarian Opera’s second stage in Budapest. The capacious, light-filled venue houses a modern 500-seat stage, rehearsal and storage space, production workshops, and an exhibition area. The toot-toot of the historic locomotive located in the foyer calls the audience back after breaks. (more…)

Great Moments

“Giselle”
Ballet Estable del Teatro Colón
Teatro Colón
Buenos Aires, Argentina
April 17, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. N.Osipova (Giselle), D.Camargo (Duke Albrecht), and ensemble, “Giselle” by G.Mollajoli after J.Coralli, J.Perrot, and M.Petipa, Teatro Colón 2022 © Prensa Teatro Colón / M.Parpagnoli Last weekend, the Teatro Colón scored a ballet coup par excellence with two performances of “Giselle” that starred two extraordinary guest dancers: the Royal Ballet’s Natalia Osipova, and Daniel Camargo, a former principal of Stuttgart Ballet and Dutch National Ballet who played Franz in the recently released dance film “Coppelia”. The second “Giselle” was streamed live – and it felt as if Christmas and Easter had been rolled into one.

Unfazed by technical challenges, Osipova plumbed the depths of her role with stunning intensity and freshness. (more…)

Overdone

“Narrenschiff” (Ship of Fools)
Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg
State Theater
Nuremberg, Germany
April 10, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Maria” by G.Montero, Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg 2022 © J.Vallinas“Narrenschiff” (Ship of Fools), the first premiere of the season for the State Theater Nuremberg, is a double bill choreographed by the company’s artistic director Goyo Montero. It is comprised of two ensemble pieces: “Maria”, a ballad about the bible’s Maria Magdalena co-produced with the Diana Vishneva Foundation, St. Petersburg (Vishneva danced the leading role at the premiere in December; the photos below show her), and “Narrenschiff”, which gave the program its title. I saw the – for now – final performance. (more…)

Pleasureless

Nederlands Dans Theater
Forum Ludwigsburg
Ludwigsburg, Germany
March 26, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. “Toss of a Dice” by J.Kylián, NDT I 2022 © J.J.BosLast weekend, the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT I) toured Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart, performing a triple bill they’d recently premiered at the Holland Dance Festival: “Toss of a Dice” by Jiři Kylián (2005); a new piece by Spain’s Marina Mascarell (“How to cope with a sunset when the horizon has been dismantled”); and “I love you, ghosts” – newly created by the company’s associate choreographer Marco Goecke.

The poem “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard” (“A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance” penned by Stéphane Mallarmé in 1897) was the springboard for “Toss of a Dice”. (more…)