Others

“The Cherry on a Sundae”

“Harlequinade”
The Australian Ballet
Arts Center Melbourne / State Theatre
Melbourne, Australia
June 24, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. B.Bemet (Columbine), B.Chynoweth (Harlequin), and ensemble, “Harlequinade” by M.Petipa, additional choreography by A.Ratmansky; The Australian Ballet 2022 © J.Busby“The cherry on a sundae” – that’s what the Australian Ballet’s artistic director David Hallberg called “Harlequinade”, the latest (and this season’s last) addition to the company’s repertoire. “Harlequinade” – a popular Petipa-ballet in imperial Russia – premiered in 1900 in St. Petersburg, and was last performed in its original form at the end of the 1920s. Working from the notations and numerous other documents archived in the Nikolai Sergeyev collection at Harvard University, Alexei Ratmansky and his wife Tatiana reconstructed the choreography just as he has done with previous Petipa classics. American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and the Australian Ballet collaborated on the revival. Four years after its premiere at Costa Mesa, California, the two-act commedia dell’arte romp finally hit Melbourne’s stage. I saw the livestream presented on June 24th by Catherine Murphy and Hallberg. (more…)

Life Support

“common ground[s]” / “Le Sacre du printemps”
École des Sables / Pina Bausch Foundation / Sadler’s Wells
Forum Ludwigsburg
Ludwigsburg, Germany
June 17, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. G.Acogny and M.Airaudo, “common ground[s]” by M.Airaudo and G.Acogny, 2022, photo M.Vanden Abeele © Pina Bausch FoundationSince Pina Bausch’s death thirteen years ago, the Pina Bausch Foundation – chaired by Bausch’s son Salomon – has worked hard to keep her oeuvre alive. Some attempts were successful (I’m thinking of the Bavarian State Ballet’s “Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen”, for example), while others failed. In a recent project, the Foundation joined forces with the École des Sables, a dance training center in Senegal, and Sadler’s Wells. The result was a double bill comprised of the new pas de deux “common ground[s]” and Bausch’s 1975 work “Le Sacre du printemps” that premiered in Senegal before setting off for a tour through Europe. I saw the first of three total performances at the Ludwigsburg Castle Festival. (more…)

An Asset

“Kunstkamer”
The Australian Ballet
Arts Center Melbourne / State Theatre
Melbourne, Australia
June 10, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

 1. Ensemble, “Kunstkamer” by S,León, P,Lightfoot, C,Pite, and M.Goecke; The Australian Ballet 2022 © J.BusbyAustralian audiences aren’t particularly familiar with the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT). Australian Ballet artistic director David Hallberg scored a coup by adding to their repertory “Kunstkamer” – a dance theater piece created in 2019 on the occasion of NDT’s 60th anniversary and as yet never danced by another company. (The Australian Ballet celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.) And Hallberg was not only able to import a collaboration between four of NDT’s defining choreographers (Paul Lightfoot and Sol León – until 2020 the company’s figureheads – as well as associate choreographers Crystal Pite and Marco Goecke), but also used this as a chance to interrupt his retirement from the stage and participate in the piece himself. Putting aside the director’s scepter to take on a role that was weird rather than flattering required courage – which Hallberg mustered. To me, it seems there was no better way to deepen his connection to the dancers. (more…)

Great Moments

“Giselle”
Ballet Estable del Teatro Colón
Teatro Colón
Buenos Aires, Argentina
April 17, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. N.Osipova (Giselle), D.Camargo (Duke Albrecht), and ensemble, “Giselle” by G.Mollajoli after J.Coralli, J.Perrot, and M.Petipa, Teatro Colón 2022 © Prensa Teatro Colón / M.Parpagnoli Last weekend, the Teatro Colón scored a ballet coup par excellence with two performances of “Giselle” that starred two extraordinary guest dancers: the Royal Ballet’s Natalia Osipova, and Daniel Camargo, a former principal of Stuttgart Ballet and Dutch National Ballet who played Franz in the recently released dance film “Coppelia”. The second “Giselle” was streamed live – and it felt as if Christmas and Easter had been rolled into one.

Unfazed by technical challenges, Osipova plumbed the depths of her role with stunning intensity and freshness. (more…)

Brilliant!

“Anna Karenina”
The Australian Ballet
Arts Center Melbourne / State Theatre
Melbourne, Australia
March 08, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. R.Hendricks (Anna Karenina) and C.Linnane (Count Alexei Vronsky), “Anna Karenina” by Y.Possokhov, The Australian Ballet 2022 © J.BusbyWhile western cancel culture appears to be targeting all things Russian, the Australian Ballet points the way towards cooperation. This February, a ballet about an icon of Russian culture – Tolstoy’s epic novel “Anna Karenina” – premiered in Melbourne. Co-produced with the Joffrey Ballet and decorated with the 2021 Prix Benois for best choreography, it was a prime example of the uniting power of the arts. Its US-based choreographer Yuri Possokhov was born in Luhansk / Ukraine; the composer Ilya Demutsky, a frequent collaborator of Possokhov, is Russian. Valeriy Pecheykin, an Uzbeg working at Moscow’s Gogol Center, wrote the libretto. Set and costumes are by the British designer Tom Pye. Finn Ross, also a Brit, oversaw the video projections, and US-born David Finn created the lighting. (more…)

A Bold Combo

“Giselle” (Act II), “Agora”
São Paulo Dance Company
Teatro Sérgio Cardoso
São Paulo, Brazil
October 02 and 03, 2021 (live streams)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. C.Pegurelli (Giselle), “Giselle” by L.van Cauwenbergh after J.Coralli and J.Perrot, São Paulo Dance Company 2021 © C.LimaBefore resuming their international tours, the São Paulo Dance Company opened the season at home in the Teatro Sérgio Cardoso with a refreshingly bold double bill that contrasted the second act of “Giselle” – an foundational piece from the romantic era – with “Agora”, a punchy 2019 creation by the São Paulo-based choreographer Cassi Abranches. I viewed two performances with different casts that were streamed live on October 2nd and 3rd, 2021. (more…)

Exploring a Romantic Dream

“Les Sylphides” (“Chopiniana”)
São Paulo Dance Company
Teatro Sérgio Cardoso
São Paulo, Brazil
June 25, 2021 (video)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. T.Prata, V.Vieira, and L.Yuk, “Les Sylphides” by A.Botafogo after M.Fokin, São Paulo Dance Company 2021 © F.KirmayrThe COVID-19 pandemic compelled the São Paulo Dance Company to postpone this June’s run of “Giselle” to September. In its place, the company has offered another gem from the romantic repertory: Mikhail Fokin’s “Les Sylphides”, newly revised by Ana Botafogo, a Brazilian actress and former principal of the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro. The performance on June 18th – attended by a live audience and broadcast online on June 25th – was presented as part of the company’s educational program and followed by a 30-minute lecture about the piece and its production. (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…)

A Conversation With Guillaume Côté

Moscow, Russia
December 16, 2018

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2018 by Ilona Landgraf

1. G.Côté rehearsing “Frame by Frame” by R.Lepage and G.Côté, The National Ballet of Canada 2018 © The National Ballet of Canada / A.AntonijevicGuillaume Côté, principal dancer of the National Ballet of Canada, had just made his debut as a guest dancer with Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet the previous evening, dancing Romeo in Alexei Ratmansky’s version of “Romeo and Juliet” alongside Evgenia Obraztsova. The role was originally created on Côté in 2011. We met early in the morning – a couple of hours before Côté would return to Toronto – to talk about Romeo, love, his career, and Russia. The first topic we touched upon was dance critique.
Côté’s answers are in italics. (more…)

The Alvin Ailey Company Tours Germany

“Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater”
Deutsches Theater
Munich, Germany
August 22, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. B.Pereyra, “Four Corners” by R.K. Brown, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater © P.KolnikThe summer tour of the Alvin Ailey company kicked off in Paris and, after one week in Basel, reached Germany in early August where the main body of performances was scheduled. The last stop will be in Copenhagen in September.
I saw the opening night in Munich, one of the five cities on the troupe’s German itinerary. The four pieces on the program included “Four Corners” by Ronald K. Brown, “Exodus” by Rennie Harris, Robert Battle’s short “Takademe” and the company’s signature piece “Revelations,” one of the Ailey’s earliest works. He created it in 1960 when he was just twenty-nine-year-old. “Four Corners” and “Exodus” were replaced by “Open Door” and “Piazzolla Caldera” at other venues on the tour. (more…)

Four Dancer Nominees for the Prix Benois 2017

Prix Benois de la Danse
Bolshoi Ballet / Korean National Ballet / National Ballet of Uruguay
Moscow / Seoul / Montevideo
April 28, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Statuette of the Prix Benois de la Danse, design by I.Ustinov © Y.PokrovskyOn May 30th and 31st the Bolshoi again hosts the ceremonies of the annual Prix Benois de la Danse Galas. Prizes will be given on the first evening, while the gala on the following day will look back on highlights from the twenty-five-year history of the Prix Benois. It is already known that Marcia Haydée will be awarded the Benois Prize for Lifetime Achievement and Aurelie Dupont the Russian-Italian Prize Miroir de la Danse.

This year’s nominees include seven choreographers, six ballerinas and seven male dancers. I asked four dancers – two female, two male – about the roles which earned them the nomination: they are, alphabetically, Nina Kaptsova (Bolshoi Ballet), Jae-Woo Lee (Korean National Ballet), Maria Riccetto (National Ballet of Uruguay), and Denis Rodkin (Bolshoi Ballet).
All four were asked the same questions:
“Why was performing this role special compared to other roles you danced? What challenged you? In what perspective did the role make you grow as an artist?”

Here is what they answered: (more…)

Grand Glamor

“Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo”
Theaterhaus Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
August 09, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Swan Lake” after L.Ivanov, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo © S.VaughanFor almost a week the venerable “Trocks” have been doing themselves the honor of guesting at Stuttgart’s Theaterhaus as part of an extended tour through Germany. A packed house duly welcomed them and was generously rewarded with a mixed bill of iconic classics. I saw the program on opening night which, “in accordance with the greatest tradition of Russian Ballet”, slightly differed from what had been announced in advance. Instead of the “Pas de deux Mystérieux” we were presented with the threesome of the “Le Corsaire Pas de Deux”, “Go for Barocco” and the “Dying Swan” which were framed by Act II of “Swan Lake” and the Grand Pas Classique of “Paquita”. (more…)

Tradition made spectacular

“The Kabuki”
The Tokyo Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
June 08, 2014

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, The Kabuki by Maurice Béjart, Tokyo Ballet 2014 The Tokyo Ballet toured Stuttgart on June 7th and 8th with one of their core repertory pieces, Maurice Béjart’s “The Kabuki”, a dance-drama created for the troupe in 1986. The plot is based on the Japanese national myth “The Revenge of the 47 Ronin”, events which took place between 1701 – 1703 during the Edo period. The term ‘Ronin’ means ‘masterless samurai’ due to the master’s death or the loss of the master’s favor or privilege.

It’s an intricate story set in the circles of the Shogun. Morono, a high-level officer of the Shogun, is rejected by Lady Kaoyo, the wife of Lord Enya Hangan. Out of wounded vanity he starts to quarrel with the husband. Enya Hangan finally loses his temper and attacks the womanizer, earning more than he bargained for. Provoking fights inside the palace is forbidden and is punished with the stipulation to commit Seppuku, ritual suicide through disembowelment. He also has to dissolve his clan. Having no choice, he took his own life. (more…)