Tag Archive: Constantine Allen

Dancers’ Choice

Spring Special”
Dutch National Ballet
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
April 05, 2021 (online)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. N.Tonoli, S.Yamada, J.Spunda, and S.Leverashvili (Peasants), “Giselle“ by M.Petipa after J.Coralli and J.Perrot, production and additional choreography by R.Beaujean and R.Bustamante, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenFor most artists, the flow of opportunities for performance on home stages or abroad has either thinned to a trickle or dried up altogether since the onset of the pandemic. The Dutch National Ballet filled some of those gaps with a “Spring Special” -gala that featured a selection of ten short pieces in total – eight excerpts from the company’s existing repertory, one new acquisition, and one world premiere. Each dancer was able to choose which piece to perform in (with appropriate attention to pandemic-related restrictions of group size). All of the principals, several soloists, and one member of the corps de ballet participated. The gala was streamed live on April 5th. A second broadcast is scheduled for April 10, 2021

2. S.Velichko (Count Albrecht) and Q.Liu (Giselle), “Giselle“ by M.Petipa after J.Coralli and J.Perrot, production and additional choreography by R.Beaujean and R.Bustamante, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenThe opening piece – the peasants’ Pas de Quatre from the 2009 adaption of “Giselle” by Rachel Beaujean and Ricardo Bustamante – sparkled buoyantly. The peasant couples – Salome Leverashvili & Jan Spunda and Nina Tonoli & Sho Yamada – were well matched. Spunda and Yamada, both attentive partners, delivered confident solos. Tonoli cheerfully stitched together her steps as if creating a fine piece of crochet work; Leverashvili, after adroitly finishing her solo, seemed to sigh with happy relief.

3. S.Velichko (Count Albrecht) and Q.Liu (Giselle), “Giselle“ by M.Petipa after J.Coralli and J.Perrot, production and additional choreography by R.Beaujean and R.Bustamante, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenLater in the program, Qian Liu and Semyon Velichko danced another excerpt from “Giselle” – the Pas de Deux of the second act. Without the frame story and most of the scenery, it’s hard to evoke an appropriate atmosphere – but it was astonishing to see the depths to which Liu plumbed Giselle’s tragic love. Her Giselle was as light and ethereal as a spider’s web. If the camera had zoomed in on her face, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see tears flowing. Velichko’s Albrecht, understandably, was made ashen by grief.

“Duet”, a Pas de Deux created by Wayne Eagling for the company in 1995, was similarly packed with emotion. Isolde’s love-death from “Tristan and Isolde” served as his source of inspiration; accordingly, the music is Richard Wagner’s. Eagling 5. A.Ol and A.Shesterikov, “Duet” by W.Eagling, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.Gerritsen4. A.Ol and A.Shesterikov, “Duet” by W.Eagling, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.Gerritsendepicts an earthly relationship between lovers in an attempt to explore love as a cosmic principle. His choreography is as velvety as the dark blue night that surrounds the couple (Anna Ol and Artur Shesterikov). Ol melts in Shesterikov’s arms, huddled up like a child, or lets loose, stretching her limbs wide as if flying. Each step is built from mutual trust. A beautiful piece of work!

6. R.Wörtmeyer, “Classical Symphony” by T.Brandsen, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenThe same is true of the gavotte from “Classical Symphony”, with choreography by Dutch National Ballet’s artistic director Ted Brandsen to Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”- music. The gavotte is less than one and a half minutes long – but that’s sufficient for Remi Wörtmeyer to dazzle us with an eye-popping performance. Wörtmeyer teases and swaggers nonchalantly, radiating Mercution-like charm. It was particularly amazing to watch his legs vacillate between being incredibly long, rubber-like, or sharp-edged.

Brandsen’s second contribution to the program was “Replay”, a Pas de Deux originally created for Igone de Jongh and Vito Mazzeo in 2014 to piano music by Philip Glass. At the time, Mazzeo was a younger man performing with an older woman. This time around, his partner, Yuanyuan Zhang, was the younger one. Mazzeo depicted an initially protective man, who soon had to accept his partner’s pursuit of independence. Arms stretched in embrace suddenly moved apart. Hands held just together snapped asunder like the 8. V.Mazzeo and Y.Zhang, “Replay” by T.Brandsen, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.Gerritsen7. V.Mazzeo and Y.Zhang, “Replay” by T.Brandsen, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.Gerritsenopening of a latch. Surprisingly, Mazzeo (quite tall) seemed more vulnerable than Zhang (quite small). The pair never separated from one another, only moving seamlessly between tight closeness and less tight closeness.
Glass’s music was played live by Ryoko Kondo.

9. J.Xuan (Princess Aurora) and J.Feyferlik (Prince Florimund), “The Sleeping Beauty” by M.Petipa, production and additional choreography by Sir P.Wright, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenJessica Xuan’s first principal role with Dutch National Ballet was Princess Aurora in 2017; Jakob Feyferlik’s last role before the first lockdown was Prince Florimund. It’s no surprise, then, that the pair chose the Grand Pas de Deux of the Sleeping Beauty (a version by Peter Wright) to take up the thread again. The piece’s regality which included boldly swift fish dives was an interesting contrast to the other pas de deux’s deep emotion.

Wubkje Kuindersma created “Two and Only” in 2017 for Marijn Rademaker and Timothy van Poucke. After Rademaker left the company, Jozef Varga inherited the role. The piece is accompanied by guitar & piano music and a song by Michael Benjamin (who played live), but according to Kuindersma, 10. T.van Poucke and J.Varga, “Two and Only” by W.Kuindersma, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.Gerritsenthe song’s lyrics (about painful yearning, true love, and the desire to forget) aren’t to be taken literally. To me, it seemed as if an older men (Varga) wanted to re-invigorate his romantic relationship with a younger one (van Poucke). For a moment, he’s successful; they roll on top of one other, thrust their arms upwards (as if pushing a murky memory towards heaven), and mirror each other’s movements. Eventually, though, confrontational face-offs ensue until van Poucke, held by Varga in a trusting embrace, slips away, leaving Varga in a lonely void.

The sunny vibe returned with “Delibes Suite”, a Pas de Deux by José Carlos Martínez to music composed by Delibes for 11. A.Tsygankova and C.Allen, “Delibes Suite” by J.C.Martínez, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.Gerritsen12. C.Allen and A.Tsygankova, “Delibes Suite” by J.C.Martínez, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.Gerritsen“Coppélia” and “La Source”. The piece was a wonderful vehicle for Anna Tsygankova to show off her assured technique. She playfully – even mischievously – vacillated between gentle tenderness (think of butterflies fluttering on a sunny spring day) and verve. The long-limbed Constantine Allen has an elegant line and spacious jumps, but he underpowered the jeté en manege. With his physique he could dash through like an arrow.

13. A.Ol and J.Stout, “Alignment” by J.Nunes, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenThe new piece, “Alignment”, was second to last in the program. The piece was choreographed over Zoom by Brazilian choreographer Juliano Nunes for Anna Ol and James Stout and was accompanied by edgy, strident string music by Ezio Bosso. Restlessness, desultoriness, and subtle anxiety permeate the atmosphere within its six-ish minutes. Lifts, leg splits, and embraces return again and again in Nunes’s choreography. Sometimes Ol’s legs quiver with fear. Stout bent her leg and arm upwards into a bud-like shape, carried her like a bundle behind his neck, or circled her like a carousel horse. Intermittently, the pair danced apart from one another; 14. J.Stout and A.Ol, “Alignment” by J.Nunes, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.Gerritsenonce, they fell to the ground as if exhausted. The costumes – full-body leotards by Oliver Haller with a yellow-red color gradient – lend the movements an intriguing visual aesthetic. Nunes didn’t focus on depicting the emotional fabric of the relationship, leaving us in the dark about what keeps this couple together.

The gala concluded with a dashing rendition of a piece new to the repertory: Pyotr Gusev’s 15. M.Makhateli (Niriti) and Y.Gyu Choi (Noureddin), “Talisman Pas de Deux” by P.Gusev, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.GerritsenTalisman Pas de Deux. As Niriti, daughter of the Queen of Heavens, Maia Makhateli flirts with feminine reticence, hemming creamy, soft movements with crisp edges. Her arms and wrists are especially expressive. I was completely surprised by Young Gyu Choi’s performance as Maharaja Noureddin – never before have I seen Gyu Choi give such a fiery performance, jumping forcefully and beaming with joy. Bravo!

Each piece except the first one was preceded by a short video made from snippets from the rehearsals and the dancers’ comments on their choices. Applause came from the very few lucky ones who were allowed to attend the performance – among them staff, colleagues, and Hans van Manen.
16. Y.Gyu Choi (Noureddin) and M.Makhateli (Niriti), “Talisman Pas de Deux” by P.Gusev, Dutch National Ballet 2021 © H.Gerritsen 

Links: Website of Dutch National Ballet
Photos: 1. Nina Tonoli, Sho Yamada, Jan Spunda, and Salome Leverashvili (Peasants), “Giselle“ by Marius Petipa after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, production and additional choreography by Rachel Beaujean and Ricardo Bustamante, Dutch National Ballet 2021
2. Semyon Velichko (Count Albrecht) and Qian Liu (Giselle), “Giselle“ by Marius Petipa after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, production and additional choreography by Rachel Beaujean and Ricardo Bustamante, Dutch National Ballet 2021
3. Semyon Velichko (Count Albrecht) and Qian Liu (Giselle), “Giselle“ by Marius Petipa after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, production and additional choreography by Rachel Beaujean and Ricardo Bustamante, Dutch National Ballet 2021
4. Anna Ol and Artur Shesterikov, “Duet” by Wayne Eagling, Dutch National Ballet 2021
5. Anna Ol and Artur Shesterikov, “Duet” by Wayne Eagling, Dutch National Ballet 2021
6. Remi Wörtmeyer, “Classical Symphony” by Ted Brandsen, Dutch National Ballet 2021
7. Vito Mazzeo and Yuanyuan Zhang, “Replay” by Ted Brandsen, Dutch National Ballet 2021
8. Vito Mazzeo and Yuanyuan Zhang, “Replay” by Ted Brandsen, Dutch National Ballet 2021
9. Jessica Xuan (Princess Aurora) and Jakob Feyferlik (Prince Florimund), “The Sleeping Beauty” by Marius Petipa, production and additional choreography by Sir Peter Wright, Dutch National Ballet 2021
10. Timothy van Poucke and Jozef Varga, “Two and Only” by Wubkje Kuindersma, Dutch National Ballet 2021
11. Anna Tsygankova and Constantine Allen, “Delibes Suite” by José Carlos Martínez, Dutch National Ballet 2021
12. Constantine Allen and Anna Tsygankova, “Delibes Suite” by José Carlos Martínez, Dutch National Ballet 2021
13. Anna Ol and James Stout, “Alignment” by Juliano Nunes, Dutch National Ballet 2021
14. James Stout and Anna Ol, “Alignment” by Juliano Nunes, Dutch National Ballet 2021
15. Maia Makhateli (Niriti) and Young Gyu Choi (Noureddin), “Talisman Pas de Deux” by Pyotr Gusev, Dutch National Ballet 2021
16. Young Gyu Choi (Noureddin) and Maia Makhateli (Niriti), “Talisman Pas de Deux” by Pyotr Gusev, Dutch National Ballet 2021
all photos © Hans Gerritsen
Editing: Jake Stepansky

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…)

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…)

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…)

Four Re-encounters

“ALL Cranko!” (“Concerto for Flute and Harp”, “Holberg Pas de Deux”, “Opus 1”, “Initials R.B.M.E.”)
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
May 07, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, "Concerto for Flute and Harp" by J.Cranko, Stuttgart Ballet © Stuttgart Ballet 2015“ALL Cranko!”, Stuttgart Ballet’s new mixed bill, assembles four abstract ballets by John Cranko: the “Concerto for Flute and Harp”, premiered in 1966 and for more than a quarter of a century absent from stage, the “Holberg Pas de Deux” (1967), “Opus 1” (1965) and the repertory’s reliable asset “Initials R.B.M.E”, performed more than 230 times since its premiere in 1972.

Certainly many of the older Stuttgart balletomanes remember the original casts, the troupe’s signature dancers Marcia Haydée, Birgit Keil, Egon Madsen, Richard Cragun (1944 – 2012), later also Heinz Clauss (1935 – 2008). They are spoken of with great respect. Critical comparisons thus suggest itself. Would the ballets work with entirely new casts? (more…)

Stuttgart’s Talent Pool

“Ballet Matinee”
John Cranko School of Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
July 06, 2014

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Students of the 4th and 6th class, Italiana by Nicola Biasutti, Ballet Matinee of the John Cranko School, Stuttgart 2014Stuttgart’s John Cranko School has a top notch reputation worldwide. Its director, Tadeusz Matacz, regularly crisscrosses the globe in search of talent. Past ex- perience testifies that Matacz has an instinct for picking the up-and-coming generation. What he and his team of teachers turn the juniors into is pretty impressive. Graduates of the Cranko School have a fair chance of getting engagements. Mostly they feed into the Stuttgart Ballet. This year Reid Anderson will take eight of them into the ensemble. Provided with solid technique, they usually stand their ground from the start on the Opera’s stage. (more…)

Between this World and the Afterworld

“Giselle”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
March 21, 2014

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Alicia Amatriain, Giselle, Stuttgart Ballet The revival of “Giselle” in Stuttgart generated a buoyant atmosphere in the Opera House. Though it’s only four years since Albrecht last double dealt here in affairs of the heart, the return of this archetypical romantic ballet had, it seemed, been waited for with anticipation.
Stuttgart Ballet’s tradition with “Giselle” goes way back. From 1851 on “Giselle” was in the repertory, but often squeezed in between musical comedies, drolleries and divertissements on entertaining mixed bills – strange, motley assemblies from a current perspective. With the end of the 19th Century, “Giselle” disappeared completely from Stuttgart’s stage for quite some time (as it did from many another European theater). Not until 1955 were a number of new stagings undertaken, of which Peter Wright’s 1966 production certainly is the best known. In charge of the current version – modeled on the original choreography of Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot and on Marius Petipa’s revisions – were Stuttgart’s artistic director Reid Anderson and Valentina Savina.

(more…)

Who’s as Big?

“Made in Germany”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart Schauspielhaus
Stuttgart, Germany
October 10, 2013

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2013 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Constantine Allen in Fancy Goods by Marco Goecke, Stuttgart Ballet 2013, photo Stuttgart BalletOnce upon a time the label “Made in Germany” conveyed craftsmanship and reliability. Innovation, novelty and experimentation weren’t features associated with this phrase in any primary way. Now, Stuttgart Ballet has proven the opposite. “Made in Germany” is the ever so self-confident title of the company’s new ballet program which premiered earlier this month. A mixed bill of twelve little pieces, specially created for the dancers of Stuttgart Ballet by nine choreographers, it serves as nibbles for various tastes. In addition to these miniatures, a vast number of works have been made for the company since Reid Anderson’s directorship began in 1996: more than eighty, seven of them program-filling story ballets. Where else can one find such fertile creativity alongside the careful guardianship of tradition?

Crucial for spotting new choreographic talent is Stuttgart’s Noverre Society. Founded during Cranko’s era, it annually gives as yet unknown choreographers the opportunity to show their creations to an audience. For six of the current evening’s choreographers the Noverre presentations were the doorway to the big stages for which they have subsequently been making work. (more…)