European Companies

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.
3. Ensemble, “Corrupt” by S.L.Cherkaoui, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bak2. Ensemble, “Corrupt” by S.L.Cherkaoui, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.BakWe hear the non-stop rattling of coins as they drop into invisible slot machines. As the music changes to sedate violin, the dancers line up at the front of the stage in – might it be a purification ritual? But no: these money-grubbers are dead and lost. Their heads are covered under eyeless full-face masks made from dollar bills; they’ve stripped themselves of their humanity. But punishment follows swiftly: the whole heap of money – together with the sinners themselves – ultimately goes up in smoke.

4. M.Sampson and A.Cummings, “human undoing” by A.Barton, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bak5. A.Cummings and M.Sampson, “human undoing” by A.Barton, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.BakAndrew Cummings and Mark Sampson depict the two sleepyheads in Aszure Barton’s “human undoing” who have fallen victim to sloth. Signs of the most pure lack of motivation adorn their faces. Standing motionless, their hands flutter idly in the pockets of their baggy gray sweatpants. Slapping their thighs and torsos (perhaps an attempt to knock their muscles awake) is ultimately in vain. Each step seems one too many. The two men crawl across the floor at snail’s pace, their legs dragging behind, before slumping to the ground, 7. A.Cummings and M.Sampson, “human undoing” by A.Barton, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bak6. A.Cummings and M.Sampson, “human undoing” by A.Barton, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bakheads bent tortoise-like towards their chests. The slow tinkling of a piano becomes a brain-splitting, hammering nuisance the moment its rhythm intensifies. A few casual movements soon end in a prostrated collapse. As the rectangular spotlight that defines the pair’s range of movement shrinks, Sampson lies on his back, his empty eyes gazing to nowhere. Cummings sits on the floor, his hand again fluttering in his pocket – or elsewhere.

8. S.E.Turtschi, G.Perez Oloriz, N.Brown, B.Melo Freire, L.Avraam, “HERMANA” by M.Morau, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bak9. S.E.Turtschi, G.Perez Oloriz, N.Brown, B.Melo Freire, L.Avraam, “HERMANA” by M.Morau, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.BakIn Marcos Morau’s “HERMANA”, jingle bells jingle while a procession of five women slowly moves through the auditorium onto the stage. Given their blue, conservative dresses and their murmured prayers, I didn’t guess at first that the sin this group represents is pride. But their demure facade quickly cracks. Their prayers turn into hissed curses; harsh changes of lighting and abrupt re-positioning reveals hidden tensions. Staying together in a line at all times, the women kneel or sit on the floor, rocking their legs from left to right. There is great aggression in their deep plies and their outstretched arms; I was unsure whether they were demanding something or simply praying 11. S.E.Turtschi, G.Perez Oloriz, N.Brown, B.Melo Freire, L.Avraam, “HERMANA” by M.Morau, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bak10. S.E.Turtschi, G.Perez Oloriz, N.Brown, B.Melo Freire, L.Avraam, “HERMANA” by M.Morau, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bakfor it. They shake their heads, clench their furiously trembling fists, and crank their fingers into harpy-like claws. They showcase their naked legs – and it is provocative and aggressive at once. Shortly afterwards, they sit on the floor, legs spread, underwear fully visible, holding one finger to their mouths as if glued to their skin. The humming jingle, the braided rings of hair, the pseudo-chastity, the odd exhibitionism – what a weird assemblage!

12. L.Pannacci, “Yesterday’s Scars” by M.Goecke, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bak13. L.Pannacci, “Yesterday’s Scars” by M.Goecke, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.BakAs Lucca Pannacci enters the semi-dark stage of “Yesterday’s Scars”, it seems for a split second as if he is sporting a small pot-belly – after all, his solo’s theme is gluttony. However, it’s clear from choreographer Marco Goecke’s choice of music – The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” – that the focus of this piece’s overindulgence is not food, but drugs.
15. L.Pannacci, “Yesterday’s Scars” by M.Goecke, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bak14. L.Pannacci, “Yesterday’s Scars” by M.Goecke, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.BakPannacci, wearing black pants hussied up with silver chains dangling around his bottom, strikes narcissistically at his naked biceps and lean ribs. His hands circle around his torso at a dizzying speed, but this obsessive self-caressing seems exhausting rather than enriching. Though his arms and pelvis try to wrench his body forward, he’s as clueless as the drug addict in “Heroin”. Panting heavily, Pannacci turns his back to us and adopts a swanky pose. No one should peek behind his veneer.

16. Ensemble, “LUXURY GUILT” by H.Shechter, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bak17. Ensemble, “LUXURY GUILT” by H.Shechter, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.BakHofesh Shechter, the company’s second artist-in-residence alongside Goecke, created “LUXURY GUILT”, a group piece about lust. Ten dancers stand center stage, moving their arms at a glacial, hypnotic pace. Forefingers point towards the audience, hands cover crotches, arms stretch upwards, and jaws open into a silent scream. Where is the lust? Does it loom beneath the prudish white pants and white long-sleeved tops? Though the intensity of the humming electronic music swells and ebbs, the dancers’ movements remain tiresomely static. Only during one short percussion stint, which rolls in 19. Ensemble, “LUXURY GUILT” by H.Shechter, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bak18. Ensemble, “LUXURY GUILT” by H.Shechter, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Baklike a thunderstorm, do they become more vivid. Lust breaks free when a couple, hidden between the rows of bodies, engages in varied acts of sexual congress. Another woman screams, eaten up by desire for something she can’t have. Near the climax, the women lie on their backs, spreading their legs and lifting their pelvises eagerly towards the men who crawl slowly towards them on all fours. A sudden flash of light prevents us from witnessing more.

Wrath, the second to last sin, was tackled by Sasha Waltz in “IRA”. She positions Mark Sampson and Shori Yamamoto (at other performances two women) in dark suits on opposite sides of the stage. Sampson grumbles, first, but suddenly begins to scream and charge at Yamamoto, who stands 20. M.Sampson and S.Yamamoto; “IRA” by S.Waltz, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bakstoop-shouldered. This repeats again and again … and again only ever interrupted by Sampson’s fist punching the air or his foot stomping the ground. In a brief moment of direct contact, Sampson hangs upside-down in Yamamoto’s arms, his fists drumming against his opponent’s back; next, he perches on Yamamoto’s shoulder, screaming continuously. Electronic noise-making blares intensely from two loudspeakers.
At Waltz’s direction, the dancers subsequently change roles. Now, Yamamoto screams bloody murder and runs towards Sampson, his head bent like a battering ram. The silvery backdrop and floor turn red as they wrestle. Blinding (and annoying) strobe lighting makes it nearly impossible to discern the climax of the clash (if Waltz has even choreographed one). As they swing the speakers like Olympic hammers, their fury finally cools. I was surprised to be presented with such an utterly unimaginative piece by a choreographer originally assigned to lead the State Ballet Berlin.

22. B.Andrade, “Point” by S.Eyal, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bak21. B.Andrade and N.Brown, “Point” by S.Eyal, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.BakArtistic director Eric Gauthier closed the program with “Point”, Sharon Eyal’s piece about envy, because of its soothing classical score. Fittingly, the three ballerinas (Bruna Andrade, Nora Brown, and Izabela Szylinska), wearing white tricots and tights, pitter-patter relentlessly on demi-point. At various moments, one ballerina stands apart from the others; the others run in circles, face one another (motionless until snapping their hands forward), avoiding eye contact or, squatting in a very deep plie, engage in a tug-of-war. Their gazes gleam with distrust. Apart from that, little happens, other than that the music eventually turns into a repetitive electronic wash.
23. B.Andrade and N.Brown, “Point” by S.Eyal, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.Bak

Links: Website of Gauthier Dance
Photos: 1. Ensemble, “Corrupt” by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Gauthier Dance 2022
2. Ensemble, “Corrupt” by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Gauthier Dance 2022
3. Ensemble, “Corrupt” by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Gauthier Dance 2022
4. Mark Sampson and Andrew Cummings, “human undoing” by Aszure Barton, Gauthier Dance 2022
5. Andrew Cummings and Mark Sampson, “human undoing” by Aszure Barton, Gauthier Dance 2022
6. Andrew Cummings and Mark Sampson, “human undoing” by Aszure Barton, Gauthier Dance 2022
7. Andrew Cummings and Mark Sampson, “human undoing” by Aszure Barton, Gauthier Dance 2022
8. Sidney Elizabeth Turtschi, Garazi Perez Oloriz, Nora Brown, Barbara Melo Freire, Louiza Avraam, “HERMANA” by Marcos Morau, Gauthier Dance 2022
9. Sidney Elizabeth Turtschi, Garazi Perez Oloriz, Nora Brown, Barbara Melo Freire, Louiza Avraam, “HERMANA” by Marcos Morau, Gauthier Dance 2022
10. Sidney Elizabeth Turtschi, Garazi Perez Oloriz, Nora Brown, Barbara Melo Freire, Louiza Avraam, “HERMANA” by Marcos Morau, Gauthier Dance 2022
11. Sidney Elizabeth Turtschi, Garazi Perez Oloriz, Nora Brown, Barbara Melo Freire, Louiza Avraam, “HERMANA” by Marcos Morau, Gauthier Dance 2022
12. Lucca Pannacci, “Yesterday’s Scars” by Marco Goecke, Gauthier Dance 2022
13. Lucca Pannacci, “Yesterday’s Scars” by Marco Goecke, Gauthier Dance 2022
14. Lucca Pannacci, “Yesterday’s Scars” by Marco Goecke, Gauthier Dance 2022
15. Lucca Pannacci, “Yesterday’s Scars” by Marco Goecke, Gauthier Dance 2022
16. Ensemble, “LUXURY GUILT” by Hofesh Shechter, Gauthier Dance 2022
17. Ensemble, “LUXURY GUILT” by Hofesh Shechter, Gauthier Dance 2022
18. Ensemble, “LUXURY GUILT” by Hofesh Shechter, Gauthier Dance 2022
19. Ensemble, “LUXURY GUILT” by Hofesh Shechter, Gauthier Dance 2022
20. Mark Sampson and Shori Yamamoto; “IRA” by Sasha Waltz, Gauthier Dance 2022
21. Bruna Andrade and Nora Brown, “Point” by Sharon Eyal, Gauthier Dance 2022
22. Bruna Andrade, “Point” by Sharon Eyal, Gauthier Dance 2022
23. Bruna Andrade and Nora Brown, “Point” by Sharon Eyal, Gauthier Dance 2022
all photos © Jeanette Bak
Editing: Jake Stepansky

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…)

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…)

A Hushed-Up Scandal

“Mayerling”
Ballet of the Hungarian State Opera
Hungarian State Opera
Budapest, Hungary
March 19, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

 1. Ensemble, “Mayerling” by K.MacMillan, Ballet of the Hungarian State Opera 2022 © P.Rákossy / Hungarian State OperaEighteen years after its Hungarian premiere, Kenneth MacMillan’s “Mayerling” returned to the stage of Budapest’s newly renovated State Opera this March. According to a local dance critic, audience members cried while watching the 2004 performance, as the tragic 1889 death of Crown Prince Rudolf (heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary) is a chapter of Hungarian history that stirs up many emotions. Though he led a life of debauchery and primarily performed insignificant tasks in his role, the liberal-leaning Crown Prince was popular among the people. They pinned great hope on him, (more…)

Impromptu

Einmalig”
(“Bliss” / “Falling Angels” / “Solo” / Excerpts from “Romeo and Juliet”, “Die Schöpfung”, and “Mayerling” )
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
March 04, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Bliss” by J.Inger, Stuttgart Ballet 2022 © Stuttgart BalletAlthough the Stuttgart Ballet’s new all-Johan Inger triple bill was thwarted by a number of COVID-19 infections in the company, artistic director Tamas Detrich did not give in. Rather than canceling the scheduled March 4th performance, he assembled a substitute program literally overnight. From the original schedule, only Inger’s “Bliss” (2016) remained (2002’s “Out of Breath” and the recently premiered “Aurora’s Nap” were eliminated). A courageous dive into the company’s vast repertoire – short pieces by Jiří Kylián and Hans van Manen, and three excerpts from evening-length pieces – filled out the bill. (more…)

Absurd

“Liebeslieder” (“Other Dances” / “Concerto” / “Liebeslieder Walzer”)
Vienna State Ballet
Vienna State Opera
Vienna, Austria
January 14, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. D.Dato, “Other Dances” by J.Robbins © The Robbins Right Trust, Vienna State Ballet 2022 © Vienna State Ballet / A.Taylor2. H.-J.Kang, “Other Dances” by J.Robbins © The Robbins Right Trust, Vienna State Ballet 2022 © Vienna State Ballet / A.TaylorThe Vienna State Ballet’s new triple bill is an all-American one, combining works from staple choreographers (Robbins and Balanchine) with a short piece by Lucinda Childs, whose name is less familiar in Europe.

Robbins’s “Other Dances”, a pas de deux set to one waltz and four mazurkas by Chopin, was tailor-made for Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1976. In Vienna, Hyo-Jung Kang and Davide Dato brought folksy playfulness to their roles as the carefree, happy-go-lucky couple. Their encounter is as lighthearted and upbeat as the light blue backdrop and the sheer blue fabric of Kang’s dress suggest (costumes by Santo Loquasto). After swaggering about with macho energy in a solo, Dato attends to Kang’s every step with buttery care. (more…)

Now More Than Ever!

“The Nutcracker And The Mouse King”
Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
December 24, 2021 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. J.Lord (Jansje), K.Hirst (Young Clara), F.Eimers (Louise), and L.Smith (Young Fritz), “The Nutcracker and The Mouse King” by T.van Schayk and W.Eagling, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenThe Dutch National Ballet’s “Nutcracker” series was abruptly brought to an end due to – what else – “COVID-19 related restrictions.” A lockdown was once again imposed on the entire country – this time until mid-January. Nevertheless, the company decided to dance their Christmas Eve performance, which they’d intended to livestream. As artistic director Ted Brandsen welcomed the online audience from the empty auditorium, it was clear that the situation was a difficult one – emotionally and beyond. (more…)

Concepts of Hell and Paradise

The Dante Project”
The Royal Ballet

Royal Opera House
London, Great Britain
December 20, 2021 (online broadcast)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Watson (Dante), “The Dante Project” by W.McGregor, The Royal Ballet 2021 © A.Uspenski Over two years after the Royal Ballet danced the first act of Wayne McGregor’s “The Dante Project” at its premiere in Los Angeles, the piece was finally completed this season and presented in London at its full-evening length. The ballet is based on two works by Dante Alighieri: his epic “Divine Comedy” (1320) – whose three-part structure the ballet adopts – and “La Vita Nuova” (1294), an early work that deals with Dante’s lifelong platonic love for Beatrice di Folco Portinari. The score was commissioned by composer Thomas Adès, a longtime collaborator of McGregor’s.
How would Dante’s pilgrimage from hell to heaven be brought to the dance floor? What would color Edward Watson’s performance in the role of Dante after two years of waiting for this farewell performance? (more…)

Heart-Warming

“The Nutcracker and The Mouse King”
Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
December 18, 2021 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. F.Potvin (Young Clara) and J.Stout (Mouse King), “The Nutcracker and The Mouse King” by T.van Schayk and W.Eagling, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.Gerritsen As yet another round of COVID-19-related restrictions began to choke social life in the Netherlands, the Dutch National Ballet reacted swiftly by adding two livestreams of their Nutcracker production to their pre-Christmas schedule. I viewed the first one on December 18th; the second will take place on Christmas Eve at 2:00 PM. Both performances will subsequently be available as videos-on-demand until January 9th, 2022.

Every rendition of the Nutcracker has its own personal flair, and Amsterdam’s – co-choreographed by Toer van Schayk and Wayne Eagling in 1996 – is decisively Dutch. (more…)

Buoys

“Giselle”
The Royal Ballet
Royal Opera House
London, Great Britain
December 03, 2021 (online broadcast)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Ball (Count Albrecht) and Y.Naghdi (Giselle), “Giselle” by M.Petipa after J.Coralli and J.Perrot, additional choreography by P.Wright, The Royal Ballet 2018 © H.Maybanks Like many other countries, the politicians of my homeland (Germany) have resorted to totalitarianism in the name of coronavirus-control. The media have zealously supported this endeavor, fueling anxiety day in and day out, successfully brewing up a maelstrom of mass psychosis. It feels out of place to watch ballet – a worrying sign of how much life has changed. But for this very reason: watch! Whether it’s dance, opera, play, or concert, performances are like life preservers of normalcy in a deepening crisis. Take the Royal Ballet’s recent online stream of “Giselle”, for example. The production – available until January 2nd, 2022 – will reassure you that unwavering, solid ground still exists – in culture. (more…)

In Seventh Heaven?

“Im Siebten Himmel” (“In Seventh Heaven”): “Marsch, Walzer, Polka” / “Fly Paper Bird” / “Symphony in C”)
Vienna State Ballet
Vienna State Opera
Vienna, Austria
November 14, 2021 (live stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Gargiulo, “Marsch, Walzer, Polka” by M.Schläpfer, Vienna State Ballet 2021 © Vienna State Ballet / A.Taylor“Im Siebten Himmel” (“In Seventh Heaven”), the Vienna State Ballet’s second new triple bill this season, follows the formula of the previous one: one piece by Balanchine + one by Martin Schläpfer (the company’s artistic director) + one by a contemporary choreographer. Last time, this third choreographer was Ratmansky; this time, it’s Marco Goecke.

For the music, Schläpfer’s “Marsch, Walzer, Polka” – created for the Ballett Mainz in 2006 – was a fitting choice. What could be more engaging for the Viennese audience than popular melodies by Johann Strauss I and his two sons, Josef and Johann? Schläpfer uses “The Blue Danube”, “Annen- Polka”, “Sphärenklänge”, and “Radetzky March” – and, to expand the existing choreography, draws in the “New Pizzicato-Polka” as well. (more…)