Exhibitions

A Small Retrospective Exhibit of Jiří Kylián’s Work

“Celebrating Kylián!
Nederlands Dans Theater
Zuiderstrandtheater
The Hague, The Netherlands
September 22, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. “Celebrating Kylián!” © A.CorbijnJiří Kylian turned 70 years this March. “Celebrating
Kylián!”, a festival initiated by Kylián Productions, Holland Dance, Nederlands Dans Theater, Zuiderstrandtheater and Korzo Theater has been honoring him throughout the year. Part of the events and programs is a multimedia exhibition at the Zuiderstrandtheater, the home of Nederlands Dans Theater, the company considerably shaped by Kylián. The exhibition opened on September 22nd.

For twenty-four years, beginning in 1975, Kylián headed NDT as artistic director and, after handing the reins over to Marian Sarstädt in 1999, remained the company’s house choreographer for an additional decade. Of the two affiliated troupes he founded – NDT 2, the junior company in 1978 and, for older dancers, NDT 3 in 1991 – the latter was dissolved in 2006 due to financial reasons.

Kylián is best known as choreographer, but has also photographed and made films such as “Zugvögel” and “Car-Men.” The list of choreographies on his website ends with the number 99. The main part, 75 ballets to be exact, were created for NDT. Video excerpts of some of those works – both performances and rehearsals – are now shown on several screens in the foyer and on the first floor. The large video hologram of “Gods and Dogs” attracted the most spectators. Diagonally opposite a black and white picture wall with various portraits of Kylián hangs next to the bar. A few costumes, among them the well known red skirts from “Bella Figura,” greet the visitors opposite the cloakroom.
The exhibition is only open when performances take place. To watch the four documentaries shown in a side room one should arrive early. “The Road to Stamping Ground,” for example, which traces the creation of “Stamping Ground,” a 1983 piece that was inspired by Aboriginal culture and dance, lasts for almost one hour. But it is also on YouTube.
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Léon Bakst’s Flights of Fancy

“Bakst – Des Ballets Russes à la Haute Couture”
Bibliothèque-musée de l’Opéra Palais Garnier
Paris, France
January, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Cover of the program of the Ballets Russes season in Paris 1911: costume for a bacchanal from “Narcisse”, chor.: M.Fokine © BnF, département de la Musique, Bibliothèque-musée de l’Opéra A waving bright orange veil waves around the bacchanal who boisterously dashes across the poster indicating the entry of the current exhibition at the Palais Garnier. Engrossed in sensual thoughts, she strides out so vigorously that her long black hair wafts behind her. This bacchanal sprang from the painter’s easel of Léon Bakst. A costume design for Michel Fokine’s “Narcisse”, it decorated the official program of the 1911 Ballets Russes season in Paris.

Bakst (1866 – 1924), born as Leyb-Khaim Izrailevich (later: Samoylovich) Rosenberg, a Russian painter, set and costume designer, became famous as a member of the illustrious circle around Sergey Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. He worked for theaters all over the world and in all types of theater genres. In 2016 Bakst would have celebrated his 150th birthday. On this occasion the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Opéra national de Paris have been paying tribute to him in an exhibition at the Palais Garnier, which opened last November. 130 objects – paintings, drawings, sketches, photos, costumes, letters either by Bakst or by related artists and a video – are shown in a side wing of around 300 square meters. They are loans from various museums in Paris and Marseille, the Paris Opera, the Bibliothèque nationale de France and private collectors. (more…)

A Unique Charisma

“Pina Bausch and the Tanztheater”
The Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany
Bonn, Germany
April 16, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. P.Bausch, photo by W.Krüger © Pina Bausch Foundation 2016“Actually I always wanted nothing but to dance. I had to dance. That was the language where I could express myself. I had never thought of becoming a choreographer.”

As is known things developed differently. Although reluctant at first, Pina Bausch took over as artistic director of the Wuppertal Opera ballet in 1973. She held the post for thirty-six years until her death in 2009. Her vision confronted the Wuppertal audience, up to then mainly used to classical ballet, with a radical change. While in Bausch’s first dance evening Kurt Jooss’s “The Green Table” and Agnes de Mille’s “Rodeo” framed her own new choreography “Fritz” – already the title was deemed provocative – , future programs were all-Bausch. Her troupe no longer was a ballet company but the “Tanztheater Wuppertal”.

2. P.Bausch rehearsing “A Choreographer Comments” by Antony Tudor, Juillard School, New York 1960 © Impact Photos Inc., Juillard Archives During the following decades more than forty full-evening programs came into being. From the outset Bausch wanted her audience to watch and listen closely. She almost forced spectators to reflect upon themselves, their relationships, the hidden reasons of their emotions. “Could we really afford to kill our precious time with operetta-like distractions as if we have already solved all our problems?” she pointed out in an interview with the dramaturg Edmund Gleede in 1975.
Bausch never followed a special style or aimed to develop a genre. Her pieces arose from the questions she was bothered by. A piece’s character resulted out of the search for answers, which Bausch described as a very painful process, a constant struggle. (more…)

Forsythe’s Understanding of Choreography

“William Forsythe, The Fact of Matter”
Museum of Modern Art
Frankfurt/Main, Germany
October 18, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Portrait William Forsythe, 2015, MMK FrankfurtWhen it comes to William Forsythe, one first of all associates the choreographer with Stuttgart Ballet, Ballet Frankfurt and The Forsythe Company, his main places of activity, but pieces by Forsythe are danced worldwide. This spring, after ten years Forsythe as director of The Forsythe Company stepped back. During his tenure’s last period health problems had already forced him to withdraw from the forefront, reducing his involvement to advisory support. Meanwhile his drive seems revived. As of late Forsythe holds a professorship of dance at the University of Southern California and, in addition, became associate choreographer of the Paris Opera Ballet.

Now the Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art, MMK) in Frankfurt dedicates an exhibition to the sixty-five-year-old. Titled “The Fact of Matter”, it combines room installations and videos by Forsythe with art objects of the MMK’s collection selected by him. His having been artistically connected with the city for more than thirty years gives every reason for the exhibit. That Ballet Frankfurt which had been dissolved in 2004 after two decades due to cutting measures is off the cards in this context. (more…)

“One has to burn”

“Jürgen Rose: Nothing is as life fulfilling as the theater”
Academy of the Fine Arts & Theater Museum Munich

Munich, Germany
June 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. J.Rose with a costume of “Twelfth Night” (Kammerspiele Munich, 1980) © W.Hösl 2015“Whenever the news broke that Rose would make the next piece, I was always happy.” comments longtime actress of the Kammerspiele Munich, Sybille Canonica, about Jürgen Rose, Germany’s most famous set and costume designer. The seventy-seven-year old’s accolades pile up: actors, singers, dancers – all can feel they are at the bosom of Abraham, says theater critic Beate Kayser. Coloratura soprano Edita Gruberova who worked in several opera productions with Rose calls him a genius, full of enthusiasm. His work would be extremely thorough and precise. She entirely trusts his taste and guidance. But Rose is modest. One always has doubts, he says in the exhibition catalog. One never knows if one’s work is sufficient.

Currently Munich’s Theater Museum and the Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts are showing a corporate exhibition of Rose’s work. His oeuvre encompasses designs for almost three hundred productions, operas, ballets, as well as plays. He has always been in charge of the costumes and only two times not responsible for the sets. In addition, as stage director, he has created “La Traviata” (1994, Opera Bonn), “The Magic Flute” (1996, Opera Bonn), “Don Carlo” (2000, Bavarian State Opera), “The Cunning Little Vixen” (2002, Bavarian State Opera) and “Norma” (2006, Bavarian State Opera). Rose is a universal artist. “Norma” and “Don Carlo” will be staged at the Bavarian State Opera at the end of June and in July, “Werther” will be revived in October with Rolando Villazón singing the title role. As usual, “Don Carlo” was sold out as soon as it was announced. (more…)