Tag Archive: Edward Clug

Lacking Punch (and more)

“The Nutcracker”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
December 19, 2023

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Su (Clara), D.Ionescu (Mrs. Stahlbaum), H.Erikson (Fritz), F.Puthenpurayil (Mr. Stahlbaum), and ensemble; “The Nutcracker” by E.Clug, Stuttgart Ballet 2023 © R.Novitzky/Stuttgart BalletAfter half a century without a family-friendly “Nutcracker”, the Stuttgart Ballet decided last year to fill the vacuum with a new version by Edward Clug. Clug, artistic director of the Maribor Ballet/Slovenia, had already contributed several short pieces to the Stuttgart company’s repertory, but “The Nutcracker” was his first full-evening story ballet for them. Stuttgart Ballet’s artistic director, Tamas Detrich, took the set and costume design choices into his own hands and commissioned a longstanding collaborator of the troupe – Jürgen Rose – to team up with Clug.

Rose’s design for the Stahlbaums’ Christmas celebration and their daughter Clara’s dream journey into a magical realm is a medley of old and new styles. The costumes and Clara’s bed are Biedermeier-ish, and the Stahlbaums’ mansion is ultra-modern. Its plain, washy-brown walls create a claustrophobic atmosphere. Walnuts of different sizes connect the scenes like a visual leitmotiv. (more…)

Fiendishly Fine

“Master and Margarita”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre (New Stage)
Moscow, Russia
October 29, 2023 (matinee)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Ovcharenko (Master) and E.Krysanova (Margarita), “Master and Margarita” by E.Clug, Bolshoi Ballet 2023 © Bolshoi Ballet / Batyr Anadurdiev I was skeptical whether Edward Clug was the right choice to tackle Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita”. A Russian choreographer seemed better equipped to adapt this landmark of Soviet literature for the ballet stage than a Romanian-born working in Maribor, Slovenia. Two years after its premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre, I was able to watch Clug’s “Master and Margarita” – and my reservations were proven thoroughly wrong. It’s a fabulous blend of entertainment and food for thought, brimful of metaphors and allusions. Yuri Possokhov, Clug’s Russian colleague, currently preparing a new piece for the Bolshoi, is full of appreciation for “Master and Margarita” as well. I met him at another performance where he told me that Clug understands the Russian soul perfectly well.

Interestingly, Clug, together with Christian Spuck (then artistic director of Zurich Ballet) intended to stage “Master and Margarita” in Zurich in 2015, but their plan was thwarted when the theater’s research revealed that ticket sales would be uncertain because the Zurich audience wasn’t familiar with Bulgakov’s novel. Destiny brought the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director Makhar Vaziev to the scene who decided to stage the piece in Moscow.

A lifetime could be spent exploring Bulgakov’s political and social satire and the biblical questions raised by the novel. In short “The Master and Margarita” (published only after Bulgakov’s death in 1940, first in an edited serial form in 1966/67 and uncensored in 1973) intertwines two plots: (1) the mayhem caused by the Satan (alias Professor Woland) and his entourage when visiting Moscow in the 1930s, and (2) the trial of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem during Pontius Pilate’s governance. The connecting link is the Master, a Muscovite author (and Bulgakov’s alter ego) whose latest manuscript tells the Jerusalem plot. Margarita is the woman who loves him and – unlike Moscow’s critics – his work. (more…)

Refreshing

“Peer Gynt”
Maribor Slovene National Theatre
Forum Ludwigsburg
Ludwigsburg, Germany
November 11, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Isailovic (Peer Gynt) and ensemble, “Peer Gynt” by E.Clug, Maribor Slovene National Theatre 2022 © SNG MariborEdward Clug, the artistic director of the Slovene National Theatre’s ballet company, is currently creating a new “Nutcracker” for the Stuttgart Ballet – but, in the meantime, his own Maribor company has joined him in nearby Ludwigsburg. This weekend, they toured the Ludwigsburg Forum with Clug’s 2015 take on Henrik Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt”.

Ibsen’s happy-go-lucky peasant’s son Peer is quite the ambiguous figure. It’s easy to dismiss him as a narcissistic slacker and gascon. He never misses a chance to womanize or to seek trouble as he gads about Norway’s mountains. The splendid future that he imagines in his fantasy fails to become a reality. The wealth that he gains abroad does not make him lucky at home. His dream of becoming a crowned king (or emperor?) materializes, but only as an inmate in a Cairo madhouse. Old and feeble, he returns home in an effort to save his own soul. Only in the very last moment does he realize that he would have been much better off staying with his early love, Solveig. But why are we sympathetic to Peer rather than disliking him? (more…)

To Be Trimmed

“Naharin / Clug / Montero”
Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg
State Theater
Nuremberg, Germany
May 14, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Submerge” by G.Montero, Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg 2022 © J.VallinasThe new triple bill from the State Theater Nuremberg’s ballet company combines three established names: Edward Clug, Ohad Naharin, and the company’s artistic director Goyo Montero. Each contributed a piece from their collection.

Montero re-worked his “Submerge” for Nuremberg – enlarging it from its original eleven dancers (from Zurich’s 2018 Junior Ballet) to a 19-strong ensemble. Barely discernable in the foggy gloom, they wait motionless at the rear of the stage, their eyes fixed on something in the distance. Together they walk forward, staring into the bright glow of the pit, at once an attraction and terror. Simultaneously, they step into the light, as if crossing into a moment of courage. For those in the audience who haven’t consulted the program booklet in advance, the next scene (in which the dancers undulate their limbs like gently floating seaweed) reveals the subject of this piece: deep-sea diving. A scuba diving course in 2018 served as Montero’s source of inspiration. (more…)

Three New Pieces for NDT

“Side A: Split into One” (“Proof” / “Soon” / “Sisters”)
Nederlands Dans Theater
Zuiderstrandtheater
The Hague, The Netherlands
September 22, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Anderson and Y.Takaura, “Proof” by E.Clug, Nederlands Dans Theater 2017 © R.RezvaniOn the right side of the Zuiderstrandtheater berths a huge yellow ship, the way on the left side leads directly to the beach. The theater, a plain concrete building with much glass, opened in 2014 in The Hague’s port area. Its neighborhood and the parking lot in front of the house don’t please the eye, but the view out of the huge windows on the first floor does. Between the dunes one can see the sea gleaming in the setting sun.
Inside, the smell of deep-fried fish permeated the foyer. The reception celebrating Nederlands Dans Theater’s first performance this season – a triple bill with entirely new works – was in full swing. The program consisted of pieces by Edward Clug, Medhi Walerski and the inseparable duo Sol León & Paul Lightfoot. Since 2002 León and Lightfoot have been the company’s house choreographers. In 2011 Lightfoot also took over as artistic director succeeding Jim Vincent. (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…)

Where’s this route taking them?

“Wayfarers”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
April 25, 2014

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Edward Clug, Maurice Béjart, Demis Volpi, Wayfarers, Stuttgart BalletStuttgart Ballet’s innovative energy seems unstoppable. Some days ago this season’s third premiere, “Wayfarers” went smoothly, a fourth will follow this month and the annual evening of the Noverre Society, featuring young choreographers, is yet to come. “Wayfarers” is a triple bill consisting of two world premieres, Edward Clug’s “No Men’s Land” and Demis Volpi’s “Aftermath”, framing  Maurice Béjart’s “Songs of a Wayfarer”, a work familiar to the Stuttgart audience.

Sparing neither trouble nor expense, both new creations had new music. Slovene Milko Lazar had been commissioned for the music of “No Men’s Land”. His suite of five movements for cello and full orchestra, belonging to the field of minimal and postmodern music, evokes an energetic, martial atmosphere. Only a cello solo by Zoltan Paulich provided a little lyricism amidst the unvaryingly pulsing rhythm. (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…)