German Companies

After All

“Giselle”
State Ballet Berlin
Staatsoper unter den Linden
Berlin, Germany
September 18, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. K.Ovsyanick (Giselle), D.Motta Soares (Duke Albrecht), and ensemble, “Giselle” by P.Bart after J.Coralli and J.Perrot, State Ballet Berlin 2022 © M.KulchytskaDavid Motta Soares honed his artistic skills under the watchful eyes of the teachers at the Bolshoi Ballet. This spring, he joined the State Ballet Berlin as a principal dancer, and in June he gave his debut as Prince Désiré in Marcia Haydée’s “The Sleeping Beauty” alongside Ksenia Ovsyanick’s Princess Aurora. Last Sunday, the two again shared the stage as the leading couple in Patrice Bart’s rendition of “Giselle”. How did they fare?
Albrecht and Giselle’s romance, unfolding under the warm autumn sun shining on mother Berthe’s quaint cottage yard (set and costumes by Peter Farmer), was not as sweet as expected. In Moscow, Motta Soares had danced Albrecht in Yuri Grigorovich’s “Giselle”. Bart’s version was new for him and his Albrecht here – cocksure and confident – flitted between gentle wooing and impatient attempts at taking. In certain moments he stood with his arms crossed, signaling reserve. After two botched tours en l’air, Motta Soares seemed slightly unsettled. Though he made a decent showing by the end of his second solo (Pas de vendanges), its piecemeal choreography – involving a great deal of jumping back and forth, as if drunk on infatuation and indecisive about which direction to move – offered little chance to shine.
Ovsyanick’s Giselle was cheerful and lighthearted, even if lacking charisma. In the crucial scene in which she discovers Albrecht’s deceit, she proved a competent actress in expressing a shock that would turn fatal – though the drama remained strangely unemotional, as if unfolding behind a glass wall. What I missed most was a harmony between the two lovers, an invisible bond that might have melted their movements into a union.

2. K.Ovsyanick (Giselle) and D.Motta Soares (Duke Albrecht), “Giselle” by P.Bart after J.Coralli and J.Perrot, State Ballet Berlin 2022 © M.KulchytskaLuckily, some sort of magic happened over the break and, as if a switch had been flicked, both Ovsyanick and Motta Soares returned in fine form in Act II. Suddenly, Giselle and Albrecht’s tragic love affair was rife with feeling, their deep connection felt in every perfectly-performed step. Ovsyanick, calm and centered, added an ethereal tenderness to her fleet footwork (performing quicksilver pas de couru!). Struck by Myrtha’s spell, she pinwheeled like a wound-up doll – but eventually her love for Albrecht triumphed against evil. Motta Soares, though stuck with a rudimentary series of entrechats and exaggerated backbends that marred the flow of his final solo, wielded his training and delivered a clean performance – spot-on tours en l’air included.

Vera Segowa made her debut as well by dancing in the role of Queen Myrtha. I found her to be too athletic for a weightless ghost – at present, she is building her regality on a stiff upper body rather than generating it from inside. As Monya, Alizée Sicre flew fleet-footedly through her solo; Luciana Voltolini was an immaculate Zulma. The corps of wilis, though initially not precisely in sync, improved over time and grew into a powerful man-hunting force.

3. K.Ovsyanick (Giselle), D.Motta Soares (Duke Albrecht), and ensemble, “Giselle” by P.Bart after J.Coralli and J.Perrot, State Ballet Berlin 2022 © M.KulchytskaAlbrecht’s rival Hilarion was danced by Alexei Orlenco. Martina Böckmann portrayed Giselle’s mother, Berthe. Julia Golitsina made Albrecht’s fiancée Bathilde utterly smug. She was accompanied by Yevgeniy Khissamutdinov as her father, the Prince of Courland. Yuria Isaka and Dominic Whitbrook’s peasant pas de deux was the highlight of the village fair. I especially remember Isaka’s bouncy, fluffy solo. Though the dancing village youth lacked synchronicity, their cheerfulness and elan couldn’t help but waft out from the stage to the audience.
From the first tune on, Paul Connelly and the Staatskapelle Berlin made clear, that their rendition of Adolphe Adam’s score would be a fine one.

Link: Website of the State Ballet Berlin
Photos: 1. Ksenia Ovsyanick (Giselle), David Motta Soares (Duke Albrecht), and ensemble, “Giselle” by Patrice Bart after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, State Ballet Berlin 2022
2. Ksenia Ovsyanick (Giselle) and David Motta Soares (Duke Albrecht), “Giselle” by Patrice Bart after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, State Ballet Berlin 2022
3. Ksenia Ovsyanick (Giselle), David Motta Soares (Duke Albrecht), and ensemble, “Giselle” by Patrice Bart after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, State Ballet Berlin 2022
all photos © Mariia Kulchytska
Editing: Jake Stepansky

Plays within Plays

“Made For Us III” (“The Last Coincidence” / “Nighttime Showtime”)
Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg
Play House
Nuremberg, Germany
July 01, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. K.Cummings (Soldier), S.Vervaecke (Bride), O.Alonso (Magician), P.Lassere (Pierrot), and A.Fernández (Gentleman), “The Last Coincidence” by B.Arias, Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg 2022 © B.StößThe ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg recently premiered “Made For Us III” and, in so doing, resumed their project of commissioning ballets from external choreographers (a project originated in 2014). This year, pieces by Bryan Arias and Joseph Hernandez shared the stage.

In Arias’s “The Last Coincidence”, two women and three men engage in a lively multi-language debate (or monologue?) on a bare, box-like stage. Huge papier-mâché masks enlarge their heads and make them into distinct characters: a braided, epauleted soldier (Mikhael Kinley), a magician wearing striped knickerbockers (Carlos Blanco), a female Pierrot (Stella Tozzi), and a bride (Kate Gee) in love with a disheveled and portly gentleman (Edward Nunes). When the spotlights are suddenly switched on and the group lines up for a revue dance routine, it becomes clear that we are watching a backstage rehearsal. (more…)

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. (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…)

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…)

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…)

Giving Back

“Creare Crescere”
Stuttgart Ballet / Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey
Stuttgart, Germany / Monterrey, Mexico
September 25, 2021

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey 2021 © Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de MonterreyRocío Alemán, principal dancer of the Stuttgart Ballet, started her dance education in 2003 at the Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey in her hometown of Monterrey, Mexico. In 2008, she moved to Stuttgart, where she finished her studies at the John Cranko School. After carving out a successful career for herself, she thought it time to thank her school in Monterrey for what it has given her. Her plan was to invite ten graduate students from Monterrey to visit the Stuttgart Ballet and work with dancers-cum-choreographers (of which the Stuttgart company, thanks to their annual choreographic workshops, has many) – but the plan was thwarted by COVID-19. Still, Alemán didn’t give up, adjusting her project to the new circumstances. If students and choreographers couldn’t meet in person, (more…)

Blabla Or Food For Thought?

“Blitirí”
Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg
State Theater
Nuremberg, Germany
July 25, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Nunes, O.Alonso, S.Vervaecke, C.Blanco, V.Ketelslegers, A.Fernández, A.Tavares, J.Toscano, and S.Tozzi, “Blitirí” by G.Montero, Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg 2021 © J.VallinasBlitirí is a term used in medieval time for something that has no meaning,” explains Goyo Montero, choreographer and artistic director of the State Theater Nuremberg’s ballet ensemble. He compares the word to jovial “blabla”. Indeed, his new choreography for “Blitirí” revolves around joy – at least, almost entirely.
Though originally planned as a solely digital project, the 25-minute piece premiered on July 10th to a live audience at Nuremberg’s State Theater as part of the triple bill “Goecke / Godani / Montero”. A few weeks later, Stefan Kleeberger and Montero realized the initial plan by releasing a filmed version that is available on the company’s YouTube channel. (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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)