German 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

 

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…)

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…)

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…)