Stuttgart Ballet

Stuttgart Ballet’s “Walking, Talking Historical Person”

“Reid Anderson – Having it”
240 pages, b/w illustrations
Henschel Publishing House, April 2017
ISBN 978-3894877903
April 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. “Reid Anderson – Having It”, book cover © Henschel Publishing HouseReid Anderson celebrated his 68 years anniversary on April 1st a few weeks ago. His birthday present was a book: Reid Anderson – Having It, From Dancer to Director, initiated and edited by Vivien Arnold, Stuttgart Ballet’s Director of Press, Dramaturgy and Communications. Its authors, Angela Reinhardt and Gary Smith, are both very familiar with Anderson’s career. Smith covered Anderson’s childhood and teenage years in Canada, his training at the Royal Ballet School in London and his time as director, first of the Ballet British Columbia, then of the National Ballet of Canada. Stuttgart-based Reinhardt contributed the Stuttgart chapters of Anderson’s life, one as a dancer of John Cranko’s company, and the second, ten years later, as director of the company, a post he still holds.

The book, available in German and English, was introduced to the public by Anderson and Tim Schleider, Head of the Culture Department of the Stuttgarter Zeitung and the Stuttgarter Nachrichten, in a matinée talk in Stuttgart’s opera house on April 1st.
Anderson is highly respected in Stuttgart and the character traits Arnold attributed to him in her introductory speech were no trivial birthday compliments. Indeed, Anderson is assiduous, very hard working, well organized and an exemplary multitasker. “Doing three things at the same time is no problem,” he confirmed. Moreover, he is generous, has humor but talk straight as well. Mediocrity does not become him and if the company’s progress should decline, he swiftly takes corrective measures. Anderson’s instinct for spotting talent has been proven over decades, and he has also been patient to see it bud and grow. His role has been one of a facilitator, and he is known for giving opportunities early.

2. T.Schleider and R.Anderson, matinée talk © Stuttgart BalletAnderson expects commitment, but, as Valerie Wilder, his associate director back then in Toronto, is cited in the book, “when something happened that was his fault; he took the blame.” For Anderson, failures are lessons, which, once learned, can be forgotten. Compared to many other directors who are reluctant to allow their dancers a short leave, his dancers guest a lot. In an anecdote in the book Robert Tewsley recalls how Anderson even pressed an agent’s telephone number into his hand, saying: “You must dance all over the world, you really have the potential to make an international career. […] Your career is short-lived, you have to earn well.” But he did expect you to come home. The ones who don’t, the renegades, as Reinhardt once termed them, risk losing the permission to dance Cranko’s pieces in the future.

Genuinely modest, Anderson was surprised by the book project at first. “I’m not Marcia [Haydée] or Richard [Cragun]. Maybe I was a dance personality, but I didn’t dance in the front line.” Yet mulling the idea over he got more and more interested in walking down memory lane. Many carefully researched details found their way onto the pages. They help to understand Anderson’s personal development, which is inseparable from that of Stuttgart Ballet. “After reading the book one knows why things are like they are,” he said. But for describing “how it really was”, Anderson thinks he might have to take up the pen himself some day.

On Broadway, Anderson would be dubbed a triple threat, because he can dance, play-act and sing. That is why he almost would have launched into a career as an actor at the age of sixteen if “this insect Classical Ballet” had not already bitten him. Instead of performing on Broadway, Anderson opted to enroll at the Royal Ballet School in London, prompting a huge argument with his father. “He said that I wouldn’t make any money and would end up living in a basement flat with no hot water in the middle of nowhere and that no one would respect me.” But in the end, both parents supported their son as they’ve always had.

3. R.Anderson doing the Cha-Cha-Cha © R.AndersonThat Anderson is a child of the stage – regardless of which one – was discovered by accident when he was four years old. His parents, big fans of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly, had decided that Reid’s younger sister should take dance classes, but “[…] poor Susan was so shy back then she just stood around. She wouldn’t hop. She wouldn’t clap. She wouldn’t do anything. She just grabbed onto my shorts and held on.” […] Before too long Reid’s dad asked him to get up and hold his sister’s hand. Little Reid didn’t find the exercises all too difficult, joined in, and that was the beginning.

Two years later, he took up ballet training and later participated in several summer intensives at the Banff School of Fine Arts. His sister carried on with dance too, and the siblings became firmly established performers at local shows. Their mother designed and sewed the costumes, while their father coached and rehearsed them. “Other kids had loud-mouth stage mothers egging them on. We had a father who helped us in a quiet, but demanding way.” Warren Anderson trusted his son, instilled self-trust in him, and taught him discipline: “If you begin something, do it wholeheartedly and, whatever happens, complete it.”

Anderson has been praised as a fantastic stage partner. “You just felt like gold in his hands,” ballerina Yseult Lendvai raved. Yet his body wasn’t made for dance, and he needed to work against it all the time. Today, he has two hip replacements.

Anderson describes himself as having been a well-behaved boy, shy and mute like a fish in interviews while his sister blithely chattered. Today, this is totally different. He knows how to flip his inner switch to Showtime!, onstage as well as in everyday life. Being an entertainer comes naturally to him. Regardless how he feels in the morning, the moment he opens the door to the opera house, it is showtime. Anderson himself doesn’t matter anymore; the people matter, and it is time for business.

Asked by Schleider why he always puts the others in the spotlight and hardly ever himself, Anderson explained: “In my position one cannot think of oneself. I think of the others, because they are the ones I have to work with. You mentioned Robert Tewsley … all right: one sees Robert Tewsley. He looks like a young god; he is seventeen years old and has something, which is unique. Of course I think about how to support him. Because if he proceeds, if he becomes the best version of himself, he will advance the progress of the company. Pushing dancers and young choreographers to the top is an investment into our future.” Under Anderson, Stuttgart Ballet has invested enormously in this future; many dancers and choreographers have made their mark because of him. He has this ominous it-factor that, as Cranko said, you either have or you don’t, andthat you can’t get. It is more than the sum of skills. It is the gift one is given from heaven, and luckily, Anderson made it thrive in himself and in others.

4. R.Anderson and F.Vogel at a rehearsal of M.Béjart`s “Bolero” © Stuttgart BalletOn first sight, Anderson’s career path seems like a staircase he smoothly climbed up, step by step. Already a successful performer at young age, he complemented his training in London, got a contract in Stuttgart, rose through the ranks, became director in Canada and, experienced and apparently bursting of energy, he finally returned to Stuttgart where he led the troupe back to world-class level. Upon closer look, things weren’t free of trouble though.

In London, Anderson had worked hard for months to get an engagement with the Royal Ballet. But Frederick Ashton, director of the company back then, turned him down: “We can’t take that Canadian boy. He sticks out a mile. He’s too tall. You can see him all the time.” Anderson was devastated and thought this would be the end of everything.

Purely by chance, he learned that Cranko was searching for male dancers in Stuttgart. His parents wired him the money for the flight to Stuttgart. On January 3rd, 1969, he arrived there in the depths of winter, auditioned, returned to London, and prepared himself mentally to be refused. Two weeks later a telegram arrived from Dieter Graefe, the secretary of the ballet (and since Cranko’s death the owner of the performing rights for all Cranko ballets): “You got the job – stop – need you asap – stop – for the tour to New York – stop – can you get out of your contract – stop.” Anderson not only had a job; with Graefe, he had found the love of his life. Both have been a couple for forty-eight years since then.

In early 1986 Anderson and Graefe moved to Vancouver. Did a lucrative job offer lure Anderson back to his homeland? No. In fact, he and Graefe had hit rock bottom. After a “blazing row” with Haydée, then artistic director of Stuttgart Ballet, Greafe left the company. For Anderson, it was clear that he had to go with his partner.
At Christmas 1985 both men sat at home in Stuttgart, jobless and clueless about the future. They decided to go to Canada, but still they had no precise plans and hoped for serendipity to take over. Exactly that happened. Anderson was asked to choreograph a piece for Ballet British Columbia, when the post of artistic director there suddenly became available. He was appointed. Compared to the Stuttgart top troupe, Ballet British Columbia  was in its early stages of development. “I did what I always do: I do everything myself. I gave class, conducted rehearsals and wrote applications. […] I knew how to build up a company, because I had experienced it myself with John. Regardless how big it is, whether it has twelve or twenty-five or 5. R.Anderson and M.Haydée at the Stuttgart Ballet 50th Anniversary celebrations © Stuttgart Balleteighty dancers, a company is a company is a company.” Anderson activated his old contacts, called Billy Forsythe, Jiří Kylián and others to ask for pieces. Using the network – the same strategy all of Anderson’s dancers apply today when leaving the company to establish themselves in leading positions elsewhere.

Ballet British Columbia was growing and thriving by the time the National Ballet of Canada searched for a new director. Anderson, interested in working with a big company, gave it a try, applied and got the job. In the following seven years he restructured the troupe’s repertoire. His programming skills are compared to those of a genius. For the ones curious about Anderson’s tried and tested formula for compiling program: check the book!

The National Ballet of Canada was flourishing, but Anderson returned to Stuttgart. Why? Ongoing funding cuts were the root of the problem. Just at that time, Stuttgart Ballet was searching for a new director to succeed Haydée. Anderson picked up the phone… “It was zero hour. They already had names in the hat. I flew over. […] I walked into a room and there were 25 people. I was being introduced to the important politicians, the mayor, the movers and shakers of the state. I hadn’t spoken German for ten years. They asked questions. […] The biggest question asked was: Do you think you would be able to clean up the company?” […] The next morning, Reid learned from a telephone call that he was accepted. “I remember I stood frozen to the spot.”

6. R.Anderson with his Intendant-colleagues A.Petras (Theater), M.-O.Hendriks (State Theater Stuttgart) and J.Wieler (Opera) in 2015 © M.SigmundCleaning up was a tough mission. In the following years, Anderson had to solve the problem of an aging ensemble. Twenty-five dancers were released from their contracts, and the gaps were filled by twenty-one new dancers he brought along. The local newspapers railed. Anderson was spat at in the streets; an angry ballet fan poured a drink into his face, furious that his favorite dancer had been fired; Anderson even got death threats. “But I got through. I had experience.” Experience is the key element. Anderson has gained so much of it that nothing frightens him. “People want change, but the moment one takes it on, they are not pleased.” This proved true just recently, although change dawned only faintly on the horizon. Tamas Detrich, Anderson’s successor in 2018, had talked with resident choreographer Marco Goecke about possible artistic directions for the company in the future. This caused an outcry in the media, which speculated that Goecke’s contract might not be extended.
Maybe it is worth to call to mind what Smith writes about Anderson’s time at the National Ballet of Canada: [Reid Anderson] saw the good in what had been and was sorry to let it go, but he knew excitement and renewal would only come with a new look at old things. Sticking with the tried and true was a route to disaster.

Regarding his time after handing over the baton, Anderson already has an idea up in his sleeve: “I’m very tidy; I already was as a child. I’m fantastic in doing the housework. So after next season, if you need a cleaner … I will make everything spic and span. I’m also good in dealing with craftsmen. If one has eighty racehorses in the stable, handling some craftsmen is peanuts…” Anderson would not only spruce up your home, you would also get a good show. What a deal!
7. T.Schleider and R.Anderson, matinée talk © Stuttgart Ballet

Links: Website of Stuttgart Ballet
Photos:  1. “Reid Anderson – Having It”, book cover © Henschel Publishing House
 2. Tim Schleider and Reid Anderson, matinée talk © Stuttgart Ballet
 3. Reid Anderson doing the Cha-Cha-Cha © Reid Anderson
 4. Reid Anderson and Friedemann Vogel at a rehearsal of Maurice Béjart`s “Bolero” © Stuttgart Ballet
 5. Reid Anderson and Marcia Haydée at the Stuttgart Ballet 50th Anniversary celebrations © Stuttgart Ballet
 6. Reid Anderson with his Intendant-colleagues Armin Petras (Theater), Marc-Oliver Hendriks (State Theater Stuttgart) and Jossi Wieler (Opera) in 2015 © Martin Sigmund
 7. Tim Schleider and Reid Anderson, matinée talk © Stuttgart Ballet
Editing: Tiffany Lau

Creating an Image

Ballet Companies in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland
Semperoper Ballet, Bavarian State Ballet, State Ballet Berlin, Stuttgart Ballet, Ballett am Rhein,
Dutch National Ballet, Zurich Ballet
October 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

What kind of image distinguishes Stuttgart Ballet from Dutch National Ballet? Or the Bavarian State Ballet from the State Ballet Berlin? What is it the dancers – and their audience – identify with as their company? How do companies present themselves to the public? Such were my thoughts when seeing the Semperoper Ballet’s new image campaign, #WHYWEDANCE. I asked several major companies to send me images of their choice representing their respective company’s image.

1. R.Martínez, #WHYWEDANCE, Semperoper Ballet © I.Whalen 20162. J.Gray, #WHYWEDANCE, Semperoper Ballet © I.Whalen 2016Semperoper Ballet chose four of the sixty-one dancer portraits of #WHYWEDANCE. The new ensemble brochure presents each in full-page size. In addition they are spread via social media and on billboards and advertising pillars in Dresden. Aaron S.Watkin, in his eleventh year as artistic director, put the spotlight on his company this season whose face has changed since his beginning in 2006. Next to the dancers, Ian Whalen, the troupe’s photographer and multimedia expert, also shot Watkin and staff members. Names, places of birth, ranks within the company and the year when joining the ensemble come along with each portrait. In addition, every dancer sums up their motivation for the profession, the why and wherefore of choosing a career with dance in a single word. (more…)

A Conversation with Tadeusz Matacz

John Cranko School
Stuttgart, Germany
September, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Tadeusz Matacz © T.Matacz The Cranko School is one of the most renowned ballet schools of the world, a talent pool known for excellence and, according to surveys at the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP), the second most favored school among students after London’s Royal Ballet School. When I arrived in Stuttgart in mid-September to find out about the school’s formula of success, I was surprised. Located in the Urbanstrasse, around 0,6 miles distance from the State Opera, the five-story building is unremarkable in the row of houses. Only a metal plate next to the entrance reveals that this is the school John Cranko founded in December 1971, ten years after he had taken over the reins of Stuttgart Ballet. (more…)

Done For Reid

Stuttgart Ballet’s Festival Weeks: “Gala”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
July 24, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. R.Anderson, guests and ensemble,”Stuttgart Ballet Gala” © Stuttgart Ballet 2016Not even a quarter of the way into Reid Anderson’s twentieth jubilee gala, this leader of the Stuttgart Ballet confided to the audience that “We’re both done for and, by the way, I’m a bit gaga.” By “we” he meant himself and Tamas Detrich, his Associate Artistic Director. Detrich, though, will take charge after the 2017/18 season. What was going on ? (more…)

The Talent Scout

Stuttgart Ballet’s Festival Weeks: “Sketches”
Stuttgart Ballet
Kammertheater Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
July 17, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Osadcenko and J.Reilly, “Delta Inserts” by K.O'Day, Stuttgart Ballet © Stuttgart Ballet 20162. A.Osadcenko and J.Reilly, “Delta Inserts” by K.O'Day, Stuttgart Ballet © Stuttgart Ballet 2016In Stuttgart the ballet season reached its climax this July. Reid Anderson’s twentieth jubilee as artistic director is being celebrated with a vast program of extras for three weeks. On July 3rd he had allowed insight into his life and career in the talk “Everything you Always wanted to Know…”. The film documentation “Miracles and Superheroes – 55 Years Stuttgart Ballet” received its cinema premiere on July 15th. It was broadcast on television on July 20th. (more…)

Dull Orgy

“Salome”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
June 10, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Amatriain, “Salome” by D.Volpi, Stuttgart Ballet © Stuttgart Ballet 2016“Salome” is the second program-filling piece that Stuttgart Ballet’s resident choreographer Demis Volpi has made for the company. “Krabat”, also multi-act, in 2013 was his auspicious first attempt. Last year’s “L’Histoire du Soldat”, part of a triple bill dedicated to Stravinsky, was weak.
For “Salome”, Volpi again gathered the “Krabat” team. Vivian Arnold, Stuttgart’s director of the press, communications and dramaturgy, was in charge of the libretto and the dramatic direction. Set and costume designs are by Katharina Schlipf. Lighting is Bonnie Beecher’s. This time, though, the quartet’s work fell short. (more…)

Brisk Steps

“Young Choreographers”
Noverre Society
Schauspielhaus Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
May 11, 2016


by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Miccini and B.E.Comak, “Cello contra bass” by R.Novitzky; Noverre Society, Young Choreographers © Carlos Quezada Since the era of John Cranko, Noverre Evenings have been firmly established in Stuttgart. They offer fledgling choreographers a chance to present their works to the audience. This year Rainer Woihsyk, head of the Noverre Society, had chosen thirteen pieces. “The evening is a bit too long”, he told me, “but I never know if one or the other backs out shortly before the premiere. That’s why I usually accept a few more applicants.” This time all succeeded and, as Woihsyk does not withdraw a promise once given, the program amounted to three hours including a break. Yet the pieces had been cleverly arranged, their variety kept one’s attention. (more…)

A Ravishing Cast

“Romeo and Juliet”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
March 25, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Badenes and D.Camargo, “Romeo and Juliet” by J.Cranko © Stuttgart BalletThough spring is still dawdling away in Stuttgart, in the opera house spring fever has grown into fervent passion. Behind that is Cranko’s “Romeo and Juliet”, back for three performances within one week. The first one was led by Anna Osadcenko and Jason Reilly, followed by Elisa Badenes and Daniel Camargo. Later in the week, Miriam Kacerova and Constantine Allen had their Stuttgart debut as the star-crossed lovers. I saw Badenes and Camargo, each a marvelous dancer, superb when together.

But not until the first encounter of Romeo and Juliet did the story liven up. What was the sticking point? It was not the music, even if James Tuggle and the State Orchestra Stuttgart delivered Prokofiev’s score in a less richly way than on other occasions. Certainly the dancers are not to blame. They were fully engaged. Might it be Jürgen Rose’s sets, used unchanged since the piece’s premiere more than fifty years ago? (more…)

Those Who Can – Anderson’s Jubilee Menu No. 3

“Kammerballette” (“Kammerballett”, “Arena”, “Neurons”)
Stuttgart Ballet
Schauspielhaus Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
March 04, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.F.Paixa, A.Amatriain, J.Reilly, P. v.Sternenfels, D.Camargo and A.Osadcenko, “Kammerballett” by H.v.Manen, Stuttgart Ballet 2016Reid Anderson’s third new ballet evening sticks to the format of the previous ones. Again, three short ballets are assembled on a mixed bill, this time shown on the stage of the Stuttgart Schauspielhaus. Hans van Manen’s “Kammerballett”, choreography from 1995 for the Nederlands Dans Theater, opened the program. It is new for the company enlarging Stuttgart Ballet’s already vast van Manen repertory. “Arena”, the middle piece, is by Glen Tetley, the company’s director in the period 1974 – 1976. Anderson had danced under Tetley’s reign. Their longstanding collaboration originated then. The new piece was saved for the finale: “Neurons”, a world premiere by the Polish choreographer Katarzyna Kozielska. (more…)

Bridging the Established and the New: Resident Choreographers – Anderson’s Jubilee Menu No. 2

“Forsythe / Goecke / Scholz”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
January 29, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Morita, R.Robinson, H.-J.Kang, C.Allen, A.Zuccarini, A.Soares da Silva and M.Kacerova, “The Second Detail” by W.Forsythe, Stuttgart Ballet For his twentieth anniversary as artistic director of Stuttgart Ballet, Reid Anderson picked works by his favorite choreographers. In October an evening with pieces by Jiří Kylián, Hans van Manen and John Cranko premiered. Now, in the second new program, the company proves its versatility by yet again indulging in different styles. The triple bill combines ballets by William Forsythe, Marco Goecke and Uwe Scholz (1958 – 2004). All were or, in the case of Marco Goecke, are resident choreographers of the company. And they were all fledgelings of Stuttgart’s Noverre Society, whose Noverre evenings serve as a springboard for young choreographic talents. (more…)

Keeping Cranko’s Heritage Vivid

Georgette Tsinguirides
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart, Germany
December, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Georgette Tsinguirides © Roman Novitzky 2015Reviving a ballet from the repertory or mounting it for another company isn’t just learning the steps. The most crucial part of the work is to make the role speak. In story ballets, the characters’ personalities have to come across authentically. Most of all the choreographer’s intentions must have priority.

Today, when starting rehearsals, ballet masters and dancers usually refer to videos of former performances. They are the perfect tools to convey a piece’s atmosphere, the steps and lifts of a pas de deux or a solo variation. Depending on the perspective of the camera they also depict group patterns. But other details are lost. What exactly is each member of the corps doing from the third line back? What is the posture hidden by the costume? Learning from videos promotes copying. But isn’t the goal to develop one’s own interpretation of the role?

Stuttgart Ballet also draws on videos when reviving old choreography. The ballet masters’ and Reid Anderson’s recollections are trustworthy too. They have danced the ballets many times themselves. But first and foremost the company relies on Georgette Tsinguirides, choreologist, ballet mistress and coach. (more…)

Anderson’s Jubilee Menu No. 1

“Kylián / Van Manen / Cranko”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
October 27, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Kacerova/F.Vogel, A.Amatriain/J.Reilly, E.Bushuyeva/M.Crockard-Villa, “Forgotten Land” by J.Kylián, Stuttgart Ballet 2015Shortly before setting off on a tour to Korea and Japan Stuttgart Ballet premiered a mixed bill of four pieces by three choreographers. This season is Reid Anderson’s twentieth for which he chose his favorites. Combining choreography by Jiří Kylián, Hans van Manen – both long-term collaborators of the company – and John Cranko is a safe play, yet also a welcome treat. Especially as the company was in sunniest form. (more…)

Only a Fairytale?

“Sleeping Beauty”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
July 25, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. J.Reilly and M.Simon, “Sleeping Beauty” by M.Haydée after M.Petipa, Stuttgart Ballet 2015 © Stuttgart BalletStuttgart closes this season in high spirits with several performances of Maria Haydée’s “Sleeping Beauty”. The company has every reason to be in good mood. Recently, quite some intricate issues were resolved: after years of debate about financing, the first sod for the new Cranko School building was cut a few days ago. It is scheduled to be ready for the 2018/19 season. Renovation of the Stuttgart Opera House is also pending and, though it is not yet clear where the interim stage will be located during the projected five years of construction, the management, backed by the company’s team spirit, radiates confidence. Also a tricky personnel matter – who should succeed artistic director Reid Anderson? – was solved shortly before the end of the season. (more…)

Hope is the last to die

“A Streetcar named Desire”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart Schauspielhaus
Stuttgart, Germany
May 30, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Amatriain, “A Streetcar named Desire” by J.Neumeier, Stuttgart Ballet © Stuttgart Ballet 2015John Neumeier’s “A Streetcar named Desire”, based on Tennessee Williams’s drama of the same title, is probably not a piece one would be eager to see several times in a row. Unless one is hard-boiled. Calling it disturbing is too lenient. Its dense, oppressive atmosphere and brutal physicality that finally seals the mental destruction of its main character, Blanche DuBois, devours one. As food for thought, a single dose of this ballet brings along with it more than enough indigestion.
Neumeier has woven a masterful psychological drama, whose intensity might even surpass the stage play. What the dancers’ bodies express is more direct than any spoken word. Stuttgart Ballet has now again revived the two-act piece which Neumeier had created for the Baden-Wuerttemberg company in 1983. Back then the forty-six year old Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun danced the leading characters, Blanche and Stanley.

Neumeier begins the story with its end. When the curtain rises we see Blanche (Alicia Amatriain) sitting on a bed in an asylum. She is elegantly dressed but looks distraught. Flashbacks are tormenting her, making her tremble. What has happened unfolds in cross-fades, not necessarily following the story’s chronological order. Music from Prokofiev’s “Visions fugitives op.22”, fragmented like Blanche’s memories, underscores the first act’s nostalgic, subdued mood. (more…)

Still enigmatic

Marco Goecke
Stuttgart, Germany
May 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Goecke © Die arge lola 2015Marco Goecke is a well-established German choreographer. Though he is open, kind and easy-going, he is mysterious, with an air of inscrutability surrounding him. His choreography can hardly be classified among the existing canon of styles. He has established something new. Meanwhile “Goeckes” are in the repertory of ballet companies all over Europe and abroad, but, above all, they are integral to the repertory of his two home bases: Stuttgart Ballet and the Nederlands Dans Theater.

We met on the occasion of a rehearsal with Thomas Lempertz in a basement studio belonging to Stuttgart’s Theaterhaus. Lempertz, ex-first soloist of Stuttgart Ballet, is planning to come back on stage with a solo by Goecke. The premiere is scheduled for November.

At first sight one could easily think Goecke stepped out of a detective film. His dark sunglasses – signature features of his outfit – contrast with his fair skin. He wears a trench coat, robust shoes, smokes a lot, and has his steady companion, a sausage dog named Gustav, at his side. (more…)