Tag Archive: Marco Goecke

Choreographer Nominees for the Prix Benois 2024

Prix Benois de la Danse
Martin Chaix, Marco Goecke, Jo Kanamori, Yuri Possokhov, and Maxim Sevagin
Bolshoi Theatre (Historic Stage)
Moscow, Russia
June 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Bolshoi Theatre © Damir Yusupov/Bolshoi Theatre2. Statuette of the Prix Benois de la Danse, design by Igor Ustinov © Benois Center On June 25th, the Bolshoi Theatre will host the annual Prix Benois charity gala and awards ceremony. It will be followed by a gala concert on June 26th during which laureates of previous years will perform. Prizes will be awarded to the best choreographer and the best female and male dancers. Below is an overview of the five nominated choreographers in alphabetical order. A report on the nominated dancers will follow.

Martin Chaix, a former dancer with the Paris Opéra Ballet, the Leipzig Ballet, and Ballett am Rhein, has worked as a freelance choreographer since 2016. Giselle is his second piece for the Ballet de l’Opéra national du Rhin. Feminist movements (e.g., Femen, MeToo, and #TimesUp) inspired Chaix to create a modern interpretation whose characters reflect contemporary society. His Giselle meets Albrecht in a subway station somewhere in today’s Eastern Germany, but instead of dying upon discovering his infidelity, Giselle joins Myrtha’s gender-fluid street gang in an urban park. Myrtha facilitates Giselle’s self-discovery, which culminates in Giselle’s and Albrecht’s reconciliation.
Chaix has both men and women dance on pointe. The music combines parts of Adolphe Adam’s original score and Louise Farrenc’s (1804-1875) symphonies. Thomas Mika designed the sets; Catherine Voeffray was in charge of the costumes.
Marco Goecke, associate choreographer of Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) and newly appointed artistic director of the Ballet at the Theater Basel, was nominated for In the Dutch Mountains, his first full-evening piece for NDT. It’s a typical “Goecke” in appearance and style—tense, odd, and enigmatic. For Goecke, “The Dutch mountains,” which do not exist in the flat country of Holland, are the stage floor, “which you always have to climb when you make a work.” Although the piece is plotless, the shoreline of a rough sea on the backdrop as well as the songs reminiscent of sea and nature by This Mortal Coil connect it to the Netherlands to which In the Dutch Mountains pays tribute. The music also includes compositions by Béla Bartók, Johannes Brahms, and the Amsterdam pop band Nits.

 

Jo Kanamori studied and danced in Europe before returning to Japan in 2002 where he took up the artistic reins at the Dance Department at Niigata City Performing Arts Center. He developed KAGUYAHIME, which he created for the Tokyo Ballet, over time. Act I premiered in November 2021 and Act II in April 2023. In 2023, Kanamori completed Act III and combined it with reworked versions of the previous acts to form the final piece. It’s accompanied by Claude Debussy’s piano compositions.
KAGUYAHIME is based on Japan’s oldest surviving literary tale, which was written in the late 9th or early 10th century. Kanamori’s adaption tells the story of the poor bamboo cutter Okina who, thanks to the help of fairies, discovers a tiny princess in a bamboo stalk. He names her Kaguyahime meaning “princess from the Moon.”

Once grown up, Kaguyahime falls in love with the orphan Douji. When Kaguyahime is brought to court, her beauty is admired by many suitors, including the emperor of Japan. Douji’s attempt to free Kaguyahime fails as does Okina’s plan to marry her away profitably. In the meantime, Kaguyahime’s former home, the bamboo grove, was destroyed due to avarice and a war between the villagers and the court chancellors breaks out. The warring parties see reason only when Kaguyahime’s soul, assisted by the fairies, ascends to her home, the moon.

Yuri Possokhov regularly choreographs for the Bolshoi Ballet. His latest work, The Queen of Spades, interprets Pushkin’s eponymous short story for the ballet stage, a genre from which it has been previously absent. The story’s anti-hero, the Imperial army officer-cum-gambler, Hermann, tries to squeeze a card player trick out of an old countess by feigning interest in her young ward, Lisa. Lisa allows Hermann into the house where he confronts the countess so harshly that the old lady dies of fright. Her ghost seems to reveal the secret card trick to Hermann but ultimately fools him. Lisa abandons Hermann in disgust upon learning his true motives. He ends up a madman in an asylum.

Valery Pecheykin, dramaturge at the Gogol Center Moscow, contributed an iridescent libretto with nuanced irony. The music of Tchaikovsky’s eponymous opera and his other compositions comprise the foundation of Yuri Krasavin’s score. Krasavin also included a countertenor who accompanies the countess’s ghost.
The main structure of Polina Bhaktina’s set is a giant cement-colored imperial hall whose crumbling stucco, arched galleries, and dim mirror on the backdrop are reminiscent of the collapse of an empire.

Maxim Sevagin, artistic director of the Ballet of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre, was nominated for Class-Concert, a one-act ballet created for his own company. It shows all the ranks of a company in a ballet class sometime between the 19th and 20th centuries. They treat hard work with a sense of professional irony that turns everyday endeavor into a fun game. Inventive group patterns, female variations, and pas de deux climax in a virtuoso pas de deux danced by bygone stars Anna Pavlova and Enrico Cecchetti. In the final, all dancers demonstrate their prowess.
Murky mirrors, elongated tutus, culottes, and vests designed by Vladimir Arefiev define the period as does the music by Daniel Auber and Jacques Offenbach.

3. Bolshoi Theatre © Damir Yusupov/Bolshoi Theatre

Links: Website of the Prix Benois de la Danse
Website of Martin Chaix
Website of the Ballet de l’Opéra national du Rhin
Website of the Nederlands Dans Theater
Website of Jo Kanamori/Noism Company Niigata
Website of the Tokyo Ballet
Website of Yuri Possokhov
Website of the Bolshoi Theatre
Website of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
Videos: “Giselle” – Teaser
“Giselle”- Excerpt Act I
  “Giselle” – Excerpt Act II
  “In the Dutch Mountains” – Trailer
  “KAGUYAHIME” – Excerpt Act I
  “KAGUYAHIME”- Trailer
  The full version of “KAGUYAHIME” can be watched on MediciTV.
  “The Queen of Spades” – Premiere
  Open Reherasal of “Class-Concert”, June 9, 2023
Photos: 1. Bolshoi Theatre © Damir Yusupov
2. Statuette of the Prix Benois de la Danse, design by Igor Ustinov © Benois Center
3. Bolshoi Theatre © Damir Yusupov
Editing: Kayla Kauffman

Plainly, Art

“La Strada”
Prague Chamber Ballet
Vinohrady Theatre
Prague, Czech Republic
May 26, 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

 1. B.Müllerová (Gelsomina), O.Neumannová and L.Muzajeva (Sisters), and M.Dorková (Mother); “La Strada” by J.Bubeníček, Prague Chamber Ballet 2024 © S.Gherciu 2. E.Zappalà (Zampano), “La Strada” by J.Bubeníček, Prague Chamber Ballet 2024 © S.GherciuIt was only a matter of time until Otto and Jiří Bubeníček were drawn back to their family legacy—the circus. Perhaps because they are identical twins, they both chose to tackle Federico Fellini’s film La Strada which, by the way, premiered seventy years ago. Yet, they didn’t work together. While Otto designed sets and costumes for Natália Horečná’s ballet La Strada (starring Alina Cojocaru, Johan Kobborg, and Mick Zeni) at Sadler’s Wells, Jiří choreographed La Strada for the Prague Chamber Ballet. I wasn’t able to watch Horečná’s version in London (I also missed Marco Goecke’s La Strada for Munich’s Gärtnerplatz Theatre in 2018) but had the chance to see Jiří’s work in Prague. He collaborated with, among others, his wife, Nadina Cojocaru, on the libretto and dramaturgy. Cojocaru was also in charge of set and costume design. (more…)

An Own Goal

Wiebke Hüster / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

Some days ago, an article by Wiebke Hüster, leading dance critic of Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, caught my attention (FAZ, October 07, 2023). Hüster wrote on the upcoming premiere of “Last Work” at the Hessian State Ballet. “Last Work” is by the Israeli Ohad Naharin – and he was the one Hüster objected. (more…)

Jittery

“A Wilde Story”
State Ballet Hanover
Opera House Hanover
Hanover, Germany
November 20, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Chelucci (The Art of Writing), “A Wilde Story” by M.Goecke, State Ballet Hanover 2022 © B.Stöß2. C.Francis-Martin (Oscar Wilde), “A Wilde Story” by M.Goecke, State Ballet Hanover 2022 © B.StößMarco Goecke recently added the German magazine tanz’s “Choreographer of 2021” award and the 2022 German Dance Prize to his collection. Last month, he presented a new ballet at the State Ballet Hanover, which he has helmed as artistic director since 2019. “A Wilde Story” plays with the life and work of Oscar Wilde. I was curious to see whether or not the story was, in fact, wild.

The evening opens not with Wilde, but with a bare-chested Michelangelo Chelucci, who jerks open and closes off his muscular torso, arms plowing through the air. His feet scurry zealously this way and that as he elegantly lifts his black, floor-length skirt. A glance at the program book reveals that Chelucci personifies the art of writing. Behind him, black-clad dancers hustle from one side of the stage to the other, comic figures in fast-forward, shaking their fists. Their steps stir up dust that gradually blurs our view of the grainy facade of a stately gray mansion (set and costumes by Marvin Ott). Though the pulsing rock of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight Tonight” suggests otherwise, we’re in Victorian England. “Believe in me,” they sing – but at whom does this line aim? (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…)

Wrongdoings

“The Seven Sins”
Gauthier Dance
Theaterhaus Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
May 08, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Corrupt” by S.L.Cherkaoui, Gauthier Dance 2022 © J.BakThose who aren’t well-versed in the dos and don’ts of Christianity might find a visit to the Theaterhaus Stuttgart to be worthwhile. Their recent premiere – “The Seven Sins” – translates each of the capital vices into a short piece of dance by a different choreographer.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s “Corrupt” deals with the first capital sin: greed. Accompanied by an extensive pre-recorded lecture on the nature of greed, nine dancers squirm and writhe, sabotage and manipulate. We hear about the Buddhist way of freeing ourselves from greed; about greed’s connection to hate and ignorance; about the upsides and downsides of wanting something; and about the impact of money. At times, their arms stretch outwards, as if attempting to escape the self-made prison. Cash is their sacred cow; bundles of crumpled notes bulge from the pockets of their dark suits, decorating their arms like bracelets and being exchanged by the handful. (more…)

Pleasureless

Nederlands Dans Theater
Forum Ludwigsburg
Ludwigsburg, Germany
March 26, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. “Toss of a Dice” by J.Kylián, NDT I 2022 © J.J.BosLast weekend, the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT I) toured Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart, performing a triple bill they’d recently premiered at the Holland Dance Festival: “Toss of a Dice” by Jiři Kylián (2005); a new piece by Spain’s Marina Mascarell (“How to cope with a sunset when the horizon has been dismantled”); and “I love you, ghosts” – newly created by the company’s associate choreographer Marco Goecke.

The poem “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard” (“A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance” penned by Stéphane Mallarmé in 1897) was the springboard for “Toss of a Dice”. (more…)

In Seventh Heaven?

“Im Siebten Himmel” (“In Seventh Heaven”): “Marsch, Walzer, Polka” / “Fly Paper Bird” / “Symphony in C”)
Vienna State Ballet
Vienna State Opera
Vienna, Austria
November 14, 2021 (live stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2021 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Gargiulo, “Marsch, Walzer, Polka” by M.Schläpfer, Vienna State Ballet 2021 © Vienna State Ballet / A.Taylor“Im Siebten Himmel” (“In Seventh Heaven”), the Vienna State Ballet’s second new triple bill this season, follows the formula of the previous one: one piece by Balanchine + one by Martin Schläpfer (the company’s artistic director) + one by a contemporary choreographer. Last time, this third choreographer was Ratmansky; this time, it’s Marco Goecke.

For the music, Schläpfer’s “Marsch, Walzer, Polka” – created for the Ballett Mainz in 2006 – was a fitting choice. What could be more engaging for the Viennese audience than popular melodies by Johann Strauss I and his two sons, Josef and Johann? Schläpfer uses “The Blue Danube”, “Annen- Polka”, “Sphärenklänge”, and “Radetzky March” – and, to expand the existing choreography, draws in the “New Pizzicato-Polka” as well. (more…)

In the Running

“Ekman / Goecke / Naharin”
Ballet of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
Moscow, Russia
March 23, 2019

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2019 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E. Mikirticheva and ensemble, “Tyll” by A. Ekman, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre 2019 © S. Avvakum No fewer than three pieces of the Stanislavsky Ballet’s repertoire were nominated for this year’s Golden Mask award: “Tyll” by Alexander Ekman, “Lonesome George” by Marco Goecke, and “Minus 16” by Ohad Naharin. On top of that, the company’s senior principal, Oksana Kardash, is nominated twice for her performances in “Tyll” and “Lonesome George”.
The Golden Mask Festival is in full swing in Moscow, presenting the most significant productions of all genres of theater from all over Russia. The winners will be announced on April 16 at an awards ceremony in the Bolshoi Theatre. (more…)

Weird Matters

“Woke up Blind”, “The Statement”, “The missing door”, “Safe as Houses”
Nederlands Dans Theater / NDT 1
Haus der Berliner Festspiele
Berlin, Germany
December 01, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Woke up Blind” by M.Goecke, Nederlands Dans Theater 2017 © R.RezvaniThe last programs I saw of Nederlands Dans Theater’s main company (NDT I) were rather drab. However, the program they presented during their guest appearance in Berlin turned out to be varied and meaty. Its four pieces were by the Argentinian choreographer Gabriela Carrizo, the company’s associate choreographers, Crystal Pite and Marco Goecke (each of them contributing one piece), and by the inseparable team of Sol León and artistic director Paul Lightfoot.

(more…)

Impressive!

“Ballet Matinée”
John Cranko School
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
July 16, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Pernão and S.Pompignoli, “Alrededor No Hay Nada” by G.Montero, John Cranko School © Stuttgart Ballet Stuttgart’s John Cranko School has an excellent reputation in the ballet world. In a recent interview, Dutch National Ballet’s Marijn Rademaker talked about the excellent teachers in Stuttgart. I saw quite a few end of the year school performances, but this year’s matinée made me shake my head in disbelief. What outstanding talents has Tadeusz Matacz been training under his roof!

The students’ performance of Leonid Lavrovsky’s “Classical Symphony” could have vied with proper companies. The boys jumped spick and span, landed from tour en l’airs nicely in sync and partnered smoothly. Short Motomi Kiyota of the 6th class was especially intriguing. He soared through the air as if it were his natural space of being. The girls dabbed the choreography onstage, defying weight and gravity and confidently tossed out fouettes. “Classical Symphony” left one with an elevated feeling.

They proved they can also excel in contemporary pieces in “Alrededor No Hay Nada”, new choreography by Goyo Montero, artistic director of the company of the State Theater Nuremberg. (more…)

Conversations with Marijn Rademaker and Jozef Varga

Dutch National Ballet
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
June, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Dutch National Opera & Ballet © L.KramerThe beautiful opera house and national ballet company are as welcoming and open as Amsterdam itself. During my last visit for the premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s “Shostakovich Trilogy” in mid-June, I took the opportunity to talk with two principal dancers, Marijn Rademaker and Jozef Varga, about their career and their plans for the future.

Rademaker, a Dutchman, returned home in 2015 after many years with Stuttgart Ballet. We met in a cafe opposite the opera house a few hours before the premiere. Rademaker’s answers are in italics. (more…)

Changes

“Don Quixote”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart State Opera
Stuttgart, Germany
June 03, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Badenes, A.Soares da Silva and ensemble, “Don Quixote” by M.Guerra, Stuttgart Ballet 2017 © Stuttgart BalletStuttgart Ballet is facing a time of great change. Just recently, artistic director Reid Anderson announced that the company will part at the end of this season with Demis Volpi, who had been its resident choreographer since 2013. Whether the contract of Marco Goecke, the company’s second in-house-choreographer, will be extended beyond summer 2018 (after which Tamas Detrich will take the reins from Anderson) is still the subject of rumors. What is certain, though, is that this season will be the last for an icon of Stuttgart Ballet. After more than seventy years as dancer, choreologist, coach, ballet master and linchpin for the company, 89-year-old Georgette Tsinguirides will retire in July. (more…)

Noverre Evening 2017

“Young Choreographers”
Noverre Society
Schauspielhaus Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
April 20, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.McGowan and E.Comak, “Fraternal | Stories” by A.McGowan and E.Comak, Noverre Society Stuttgart – Young Choreographers 2017 © R.NovitzkyTwelve young choreographers presented their works to the public as part of this season’s two Noverre Evenings – Stuttgart’s platform for aspiring choreographers of dance. Two of the choreographers are female. Two of the ten pieces are collaborative works. Seven originated from within the ranks of the Stuttgart Ballet, and three were created by individual dancers from Lyon, Munich and Mannheim. Notably, none included point work. The quality of the works varied, but each was warmly applauded and some raised enthusiastic cheers. (more…)

Happy Birthday State Ballet School Berlin

“Jubilee-Gala”
State Ballet School Berlin
Schiller Theater
Berlin, Germany
December 03, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

Birthdays are best celebrated with friends. To make its 65th jubilee a real big party, the State Ballet School Berlin invited national and international guests to share the stage in a birthday gala. Those were: Stuttgart’s John Cranko School, the School of the Hamburg Ballet, the Ballet Academy of the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich; and from abroad the Ballet Academy of the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Danish Ballet School, St. Petersburg’s Vaganova Ballet Academy and, what I was most pleased with, the Cuban National Ballet School, hardly ever seen on these shores. Contacts with Havana are about to be intensified, Marek Rózycki, acting artistic director of the State Ballet School Berlin later told me in a telephone call. He also revealed that the guest list was intended to be even longer. The Schools from ABT, the Bolshoi, Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Ballet London and the Dance Academy Mannheim would have loved to participate but were wrapped up in their own performances. Trouble with visas had been an issue as well. (more…)