Tag Archive: Catherine Voeffray

Missing Diversity

“b.22” (“verwundert seyn – zu sehn”, “Moves”, “ein Wald, ein See”)
Ballett am Rhein
Opera House Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf, Germany
June 06, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Menha and C.Nzerem, “verwundert seyn – zu sehn” by M.Schläpfer, Ballett am Rhein © G.Weigelt 2015Martin Schläpfer, artistic director of the Ballett am Rhein, makes no effort racking his brain to find appealing titles for ballet evenings. He simply numbers them, this season arriving at “b.24”. I saw an earlier work, “b.22”, a triple bill made up of Jerome Robbins’s “Moves” as the centerpiece, framed by two works by Schläpfer himself: “verwundert seyn – zu sehn” and “a forest, a lake” (“ein Wald, ein See”).

“Verwundert seyn – zu sehn” premiered in January this year at the Theater Duisburg, the company’s second home stage. Its title is a citation picked out of “Parerga and Paralipomena” (“Appendices and Omissions”), a collection of reflections by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. The two volumes gather, among others, Schopenhauer’s thoughts on philosophy, science, nature, color theory, suicide or metaphysic. “Verwundert seyn – zu sehn” is taken from a chapter dealing with the vanity of life. A serious, rather gloomy subject. To get the right perspective, one has to know that Schläpfer dedicated the piece to Bogdan Nicula, a long-time dancer in his ensemble. Being in his mid- thirties, the Rumanian developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis last year. Within short time he was bound to the wheelchair and depended on artificial respiration. (more…)

In Honor of Richard Strauss

“Legends – Homage to Richard Strauss”
Semperoper Ballet
Semperoper
Dresden, Germany
July 11, 2014

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Fabien Voranger, Tanzsuite by A.Ratmansky, Semperoper BalletRichard Strauss (1864 – 1949), the German composer and conductor, would have celebrated his 150th birthday this year. He was closely connected to Dresden, where nine of his fifteen operas had their world premieres. Thus it isn’t surprising that the Semperoper Dresden is celebrating this jubilee extensively with an array of operas, concerts, song recitals and the ballet evening “Legends – Homage to Richard Strauss”. The ballet program, based on Strauss music, includes two world premieres. For the first time, Alexei Ratmansky has created new choreography in Germany – the ensemble piece “Tanzsuite”, first on the program. The other premiere, “The Legend of Joseph”, is by Stijn Celis, a choreographer already familiar with the Semperoper’s dancers.

Richard Strauss and Alexei Ratmansky seem to share a trait: both are passionate about the past, about evoking history and reconfiguring it as contemporary art. One of Strauss’ historical sources of inspiration was the French rococo period. Its lightness and esprit found expression in Strauss’ creation “Ballroom and Theater Dances in the Style of Louis XV”, better known as the “Tanzsuite”, which premiered 1923 in Vienna. Strauss’ composition drew on a selection of François Couperin’s ‘Pièces de Clavecin’, pieces for the piano from the years 1713 – 1730, which Strauss adapted, rearranged and scored for small orchestra. The style of 20th century’s late romantic music was subtly woven into the rococo miniatures, which evoked a French court of the 18th century. In charge of the choreography for Vienna was Heinrich Kröller (1880 – 1930), a German ballet master and choreographer who worked first for Munich’s ‘Royal Court and National Theater’ and later for the Vienna State Opera. Playing with court dances and including mythological figures, Kröller enchanted his Viennese post-court audience with royal grandeur. (more…)

Sex and Crime – Stijn Celis’s Shakespeare Falls Short

“Romeo and Juliet”
Semperoper Ballet
Semperoper
Dresden, Germany
February 21, 2014

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Julia Weiss, Jiri Bubenicek, Romeo and Juliet by S.Celis, Semperoper Ballet To ‘carry off the audience to emotionally deep experiences’ was Stijn Celis’s stated aim for his new “Romeo and Juliet” adaptation at Dresden’s Semperoper. His approach is totally modern, avoiding any reference to the Renaissance. The Belgian choreographer wanted his work to be ‘linked to reality’ and to abstain from ‘artificiality and deformation’. Did he accomplish these noble goals?

Concrete dominated the set, aptly so for a current approach. Gray walls served as a church interior or as facades of austere homes. Two large windows allowed either a view into what was going on in apartments or, when the windows were opened, served as balconies for the two lovers’ core encounter. The atmosphere was as gloomy as Jan Versweyveld’s decor.

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