Gauthier Dance

Happy Eightieth!

“Egon Madsen 80”
Theaterhaus Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
September 28, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Madsen, “Egon Madsen 80”, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022 © J.BakEgon Madsen has been a foundational figure in Stuttgart’s ballet and theater world for close to his entire career. He gave his stage debut at the young age of ten in a children’s ballet in his home country of Denmark. Nine years later (in 1961) he joined the Stuttgart Ballet under the newly appointed John Cranko. Key roles in Cranko’s signature pieces were choreographed on Madsen during a period dubbed the “Stuttgart Ballet Miracle”. After Cranko’s death, Madsen stayed with the Stuttgart Ballet until 1981. In the years that followed, he helmed several companies (the Frankfurt Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, and the Ballet of the Teatro Communale/Florence) before becoming Marcia Haydée’s assistant director at Stuttgart and serving as ballet master in Stuttgart and Leipzig. In 1999 – at age fifty-seven – he returned to the stage with Nederlands Dans Theater’s NDT III. He also served as the troupe’s teacher and rehearsal director until it disbanded in 2006. One year later, Madsen returned to Stuttgart as a driving force behind Eric Gauthier’s newly established Gauthier Dance Company at the Theaterhaus. In addition to dancing in numerous Theaterhaus productions (most recently “Greyhounds” in 2015), Madsen also coached and trained the dancers. Since 2014, he has forayed into play-acting; his solo evening “King Lear”, choreographed by Mauro Bigonzetti, can be seen at the Theaterhaus for a final time this November.

3. F.Vogel, T.Detrich, B.Keil, E.Madsen, M.Bigonzetti, I.Cavallari, and E.Gauthier, “Egon Madsen 80”, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022 © J.Bak2. F.Vogel, T.Detrich, B.Keil, E.Madsen, M.Bigonzetti, I.Cavallari, and E.Gauthier, “Egon Madsen 80”, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022 © J.BakMadsen’s eightieth birthday and seventieth stage anniversary was cause for a huge celebration – and the gala that the Stuttgart Theaterhaus organized was extensive indeed. It was presented by Eric Gauthier who – humorous as ever – ensured that the almost four-hour-long program (including a participatory performance with the audience) entertained throughout.

4. E.Madsen and ensemble, “Cantata” by M.Bigonzetti, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022 © J.BakMadsen’s love of wit and humor was clear from his wry comments on the collection of black-and-white photos showing his early professional steps. Also hilarious, though without intending to be, was the commentary in a compilation from a vintage film by SDR Abendschau recalling Madsen’s time under Cranko’s directorship. We learned that male dancers “woo and fight for love and then die,” and that the young Madsen preferred table football over more sophisticated pastimes. The company’s tours to New York (1969) and Moscow (1972) were mentioned as well. A second video dealt with Madsen’s work in the Theaterhaus.

Of Madsen’s many friends and companions, five – Birgit Keil, Mauro Bigonzetti, Ivan Cavallari, Tamas Detrich, and Friedemann Vogel – shared their memories in a series of talks. Keil emphasized Madsen’s authenticity, Cavallari his modesty, Bigonzetti his generosity and humanity. In reference to a performance of “Romeo and Juliet”, Detrich joked:No one could die like Egon.”

5. E.Madsen and participants of the gala, “Egon Madsen 80”, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022 © J.BakOf the many Cranko roles for which Madsen is known, we saw three performed by members of the Stuttgart Ballet. Adhonay Soares da Silva danced the Lenski solo from the second act of “Onegin”; Alessandro Giaquinto was the hapless Gremio, warbling a failed serenade to Bianca (Veronika Verterich) in “Taming of the Shrew”. Friedemann Vogel danced the lovey-dovey youth from “Brouillards” whose infatuation suffers an abrupt deflation.
Alice McArthur and Mitchell Millhollin, both students at the John Cranko School, gave a spotless rendition of Uwe Scholz’s “The Creation” – a nod to Madsen’s time in Leipzig. Arnau Redorta Ortiz and Maria Sayrach Baró, juniors at Gauthier Dance, contributed “Rassemblement”, an edgy pas de deux with a tragic ending by Nacho Duato. A highlight was Gauthier’s peppy “ABC” of dance, set into motion by the effervescent Shori Yamamoto.

I was most impressed by the two performances by Madsen himself: Hans van Manen’s “The Old Man and Me” (alongside Milena Twiehaus, a former student of Madsen’s wife Lucia Isenring) and “Cantata” – a wildly passionate group number by Bigonzetti performed to Southern Italian songs sung fervently and played live by the Gruppo Musicale Assurd, Enza Pagliara, and Enza Alessandra Prestia. There is no doubt that Madsen – lifted high above the group of dancers, a timbrel hanging gloriously above his head – can still dominate the stage.
6. E.Madsen and participants of the gala, “Egon Madsen 80”, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022 © J.Bak

Links: Website of the Theaterhaus Stuttgart
Eric Gauthier commenting on Egon Madsen’s birthday (audio)
SWR documentary on Egon Madsen (video)
Photos: 1. Egon Madsen, “Egon Madsen 80”, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022
2. Friedemann Vogel, Tamas Detrich, Birgit Keil, Egon Madsen, Mauro Bigonzetti, Ivan Cavallari, and Eric Gauthier, Egon Madsen 80”, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022
3. Friedemann Vogel, Tamas Detrich, Birgit Keil, Egon Madsen, Mauro Bigonzetti, Ivan Cavallari, and Eric Gauthier, Egon Madsen 80”, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022
4. Egon Madsen and ensemble, “Cantata” by Mauro Bigonzetti, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022
5. Egon Madsen and participants of the gala, “Egon Madsen 80”, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022
6. Egon Madsen and participants of the gala, “Egon Madsen 80”, Theaterhaus Stuttgart 2022
all photos © Jeanette Bak
Editing: Jake Stepansky

 

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…)

Limitations

“Nijinski”
Gauthier Dance
Theaterhaus Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
June 22, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. R.Guerra and L.Prunty, “Nijinski” by M.Goecke, Gauthier Dance © R.Brocke 2016Stuttgart’s Gauthier Dance is known for entertaining programs. Commissioning Marco Goecke, Stuttgart Ballet’s resident choreographer, with a ballet about Vaslav Nijinsky heralds a change of course towards the serious.
Nijinsky is a legend. He was the star dancer of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (1909 – 1921) and as a choreographer ahead of his time. But tragically mental illness struck him in the middle of his life. How did Goecke approach him?

One thing was clear from the beginning. Goecke and Nijinsky have things in common. Nijinsky’s choreographies, especially “L’Après-midi d’un faune” (1912) and “Le Sacre du printemps” (1913), sent shock waves through the cultural world. (more…)

Give it Another Shot

“Greyhounds”
Theaterhaus Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
November 04, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. J.Krämer, M.Kruuse, E.Madsen and T.Lempertz, “Greyhounds” by E.Madsen, photo: R.BrockeThe four dancers of Egon Madsen’s “Greyhounds” compare their careers to long-distance journeys with various stopovers. Although this is not quite correct. Only two protagonists are indeed gray-haired veterans of the dance floor, Marianne Kruuse and Madsen himself. Both are in their seventies. The quartet’s other two, Julia Krämer and Thomas Lempertz, bid their farewell to Stuttgart Ballet’s stage only around ten years ago: Krämer was principal, Lempertz first soloist. The current get-together of the four at the Theaterhaus Stuttgart was initiated by Madsen, a formative dancer of Stuttgart Ballet under Cranko’s reign.

From 1981 on, he was director of Frankfurt Ballet followed by directorships in Stockholm, Florence, and at the Nederlands Dans Theater III (NDT III). Madsen’s affinity to dance never stopped. He is closely connected with Stuttgart’s Gauthier Dance Company and a respected figure in the city’s dance scene. (more…)