Tag Archive: Matej Urban

Drain of the Bavarian State Ballet Worse Than Thought

Bavarian State Ballet
Munich, Germany
July 12, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

Igor Zelensky © Wilfried HöslAccording to media reports one week ago, 18 out of a total of 69 dancers are leaving the Bavarian State Ballet at the end of this season. Names weren’t given. Yesterday the company’s press office emailed its newsletter. It contains messages of success – around 95% of seats were sold throughout the season and important pieces entered the repertoire – as well as announcements of promotions: Jonah Cook to principal, Alexander Omalchenko and Erik Murzagaliyev to first soloists, Dmitry Vyskubenko to demi soloist (Prisca Zeisel had become first soloist already in April); and that Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin will appear in Cranko’s “Shrew”.

The press office was, however, economical with the names of the ones leaving. The newsletter’s second to the last paragraph contains only seven names:
First Soloist Matêj Urban (→ Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo)
Demi Soloists: Mai Kono (→ Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal), Adam Zvonaŕ (→ Czech National Ballet, Prague)
Corps de Ballet: Nicha Rodboon (→ Royal Ballet of Flanders, Antwerp), Radka Příhodová (→ Czech National Ballet, Prague), Robin Strona (→ Semperoper Ballet, Dresden) and Gianmarco Romano (→ Finish National Ballet, Helsinki). (more…)

Works By Four Young Choreographers in Munich

“Young Choreographers”
Bavarian State Ballet
Prinzregententheater / Prince Regent Theatre
Munich, Germany
July 02, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Mama, ich kann fliegen” by D.Klein, Bavarian State Ballet 2017 © W.Hösl After a break of more than a decade the Bavarian State Ballet revived its “Young Choreographers” evenings last weekend. Of the four up-and-coming choreographers who presented their works on three consecutive nights at Munich’s Prince Regent Theatre, German-born Dustin Klein was the only one from within the ranks of the company. He was joined by the Swiss Benoît Favre, a dancer from Ballet Zurich. and two Russian colleagues: Anton Pimonov from the Maryinsky Ballet and Andrey Kaydanovskiy from the Vienna State Ballet. (more…)

A Masterpiece?

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
May 26, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. K.Ryshkova, “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by J.Neumeier, Bavarian State Ballet 2017 © W.Hösl Balmy nights that follow days of 86°F are ideal to get one in a dreamy midsummer night’s mood. It was just the right time for reviving John Neumeier’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s iconic comedy, as danced by the Bavarian State Ballet this May. The amorous entanglements Shakespeare invented in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” are confusingly intricate and very juicy. Theseus, the duke of Athens, is about to marry Hippolyta, the former queen of the Amazons. Oberon, king of the fairies, and Titania, his queen, have come to the forests surrounding Athens to attend the wedding. A bit short of domestic bliss, their quarrels cause great trouble among the four lovers of the human world, Lysander & Hermia and Demetrius & Helena. Chaos intensifies because of Puck, Oberon’s shrewd and knavish sprite. A group of incompetent, amateur actors, preparing to entertain the royal wedding with “Pyramus and Thisbe” adds to the overall confusion.

Neumeier streamlined the knotty story by dropping side characters and subplots and allocating distinct music to the three lifeworlds. Felix Mendelssohn’s compositions for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (and other pieces by him) accompany the events at court. The mechanicals rehearse and perform to barrel organ music. Oberon, Titania and their fairies live inside György Ligeti’s electronic soundscapes. The Mendelssohn was played live by the Bavarian State Orchestra under the baton of Michael Schmidtsdorff; of Ligeti, we heard a recorded version. James Lyttle, one of the mechanicals, played the barrel organ. (more…)

Munich Opens Wonderland

“Alice in Wonderland”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
April 03, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Alice in Wonderland” by C.Wheeldon, Bavarian State Ballet 2017 © W.Hösl The first day of Munich’s Ballet Festival Week heralded the start of an extended cricket season at the city’s National Theater. Captains of noble descent lead the competing teams. Which of the players – half a zoo plus numerous playing cards – fight for the Queen of Hearts and which fight for the Duchess isn’t always clear. Games aren’t played by the rules in Wonderland. (more…)

Spartacus versus Crassus

“Spartacus”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
January 03, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. O.Gouneo and ensemble, “Spartacus” by Y.Grigorovich, Bavarian State Ballet © W.Hösl 2017Yuri Grigorovich’s “Spartacus” has four leading characters: Spartacus, the heroic fighter for freedom, his antipode, the Roman consul Crassus, and the two men’s lovers, Phrygia and Aegina. The dynamics between the four characters varies depending on the dancers. Having already seen the ballet before Christmas, I was curious as to how the dynamics would be re-balanced by another cast. This time Cuban-born Osiel Gouneo danced Spartacus alongside Ivy Amista as Phrygia. Erik Murzagaliyev replaced the injured Matêj Urban in the role of Crassus. Prisca Zeisel was Crassus’s concubine Aegina.

Gouneo’s Spartacus melded feline suppleness with focused power. He is a fine jumper and turns with elegant ease. With confidence and natural pride, his chest cut through the air like a stately ship’s figurehead. His Spartacus was driven by inner visions, by an intense desire which the flash of his eyes also strongly expressed. Gouneo’s acting, be it when protecting Phrygia, uniting his fighters or struggling as a captive, was credible throughout. He made Spartacus a charismatic, likeable leader. (more…)

The Bavarian State Ballet Prepares for the Slave Uprising

“Ballet Extra: Open Rehearsal for Spartacus
Bavarian State Ballet
Ballet Rehearsal Premises, Platzl 7
Munich, Germany
December 16, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Urban and P.Zeisel, “Ballet Extra: Open Rehearsal for Spartacus”, chor.: Y.Grigorovich, Bavarian State Ballet © N.Rodboon 2016Yuri Grigorovich’s “Spartacus” premieres the day before Christmas Eve in Munich. Since September the Bolshoi’s Oksana Tsvetnitskaya and Ruslan Pronin have been rehearsing the troupe. Grigorovich also arrived from Moscow to supervise the production. He didn’t attend Friday evening’s open rehearsal, but Tsvetnitskaya and Pronin were present.

Compared to the last “Ballet Extra,” the queue in front of the company’s rehearsal premises in Munich’s city center was shorter, certainly not because of a lack of interest or Christmas shopping, but due to the limited space in the Bosl-Studio where the event took place. (more…)

For the last Time

“Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
June 29, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. D.Sukhorukova, N.Losada, Z.Zahradniková, J.Cook, J.de Andrade, L.Engel, N.Strada, G.Romano, S.Ferrolier, M.Dilaghi, A.Tuzil, R.Strona, S.Throop, M.Navarrete Villalba and M.Urban, “Für die Kinder...” by P.Bausch, Bavarian State Ballet © Bavarian State Ballet 2016Last Wednesday Ivan Liška’s era at the helm of the Bavarian State Ballet ended after a final performance of Pina Bausch’s “Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen” (“For the Children of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”). Together with him a large part of the company is leaving. There could have been no better piece than Bausch’s for this event. “For the Children…” tells of what makes life alive: being foolish, crazy, full of joy, desperate, sad and over the top, showing off, trying togetherness, falling in love, quarreling and playing mean games. Many situations are absurd, all are touching. Love is a core topic, emotions in general are. (more…)

Fundamental Changes at the Bavarian State Ballet

Ivan Liška and many dancers bid their farewell
Bavarian State Ballet
Munich, Germany
May 25, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. I.Liška and N.Hatano rehearsing the Pas des Odalisques from “Le Corsaire”, Bavarian State Ballet © C.Tandy After eighteen years, Ivan Liška, artistic director of the Bavarian State Ballet, is handing over the reigns to Igor Zelensky at the end of this season. During the last months it had already became apparent that from then on things would not stay as they were.
This week the news became official. Of the ensemble’s seventy dancers twenty-nine will be leaving this summer. Among those are six of the total nine principals: Lucia Lacarra, Ekaterina Petina, Daria Sukhoukova, Marlon Dino, Cyril Pierre and Lukáš Slavicky. Ivy Amista, Javier Amo and Tigran Mikayelyan stay with the company. (more…)

Turning Points

Bavarian State Ballet’s Matteo Dilaghi, Mia Rudic and Matej Urban
Munich, Germany
May, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Matteo Dilaghi, Bavarian State Ballet © S.Kletzsch 2. Mia Rudic, Bavarian State Ballet © S.Kletzsch3. Matej Urban, Bavarian State Ballet © W.Hösl Pina Bausch’s “Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen” (“For the children of yesterday, today and tomorrow”), which entered the Bavarian State Ballet’s repertory just a few weeks ago, has since then caused a stir. Audiences, though divided at first, are meanwhile storming the box office. An extra performance has been scheduled. (more…)

The Process of Transformation

“Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
April 08, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen” by P.Bausch, Bavarian State Ballet © W.Hösl 2016This season the Bavarian State Ballet’s annual Festival Weeks are special. They are the last ones under Ivan Liška’s directorship. Next season Igor Zelensky takes over. The festival also marks the departure of Wolfgang Oberender, Liška’s long time assistant. Oberender, a stellar expert in dance history, has given the Munich audience an understanding of the classics. To do so was for him a matter of the heart. His profound knowledge and unrelenting dedication to the art will be missed. What’s more, the program for these Ballet Weeks comes up with an extraordinary premiere, Pina Bausch’s “Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen” (“For the children of yesterday, today and tomorrow”). (more…)

Balanchine, Robbins and a Teddy Bear

“Symphony in C / In the Night / Adam is”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
December 28, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Symphony in C” by G.Balanchine, Bavarian State Ballet © W.HöslJuxtaposing established choreography and contemporary work can be intriguing. Yet comparing and contrasting a new piece with those of the masters also carries risks. The Bavarian State Ballet’s new evening of ballet dares to do this. It combines George Balanchine’s “Symphony in C” and Jerome Robbins’s “In the Night” with “Adam is” – a fresh dance by Canada’s Azure Barton. Did the assemblage work? (more…)

The Seeming and the Real

“Artifact II / The Exiles / Zugvögel”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
June 19, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Barrowman, J.Amo and ensemble, “Artifact II” by W.Forsythe, Bavarian State Ballet, Munich © W.Hösl 2015Munich’s National Theater was packed to the roof for the last performance of “Artifact II / The Exiles / Zugvögel”. The triple bill combines two older pieces – “Artifact II” by William Forsythe and “Zugvögel” by Jiří Kylián – with “The Exiles”, a newly acquired work by José Limón. It is the fourth work by Limón in the company’s repertory. Forsythe’s “Artifact II” is the second part of the full-evening, quadripartite “Artifact” which has been in the company’s repertory since 2009. “Zugvögel” (“Migrating Birds”) is a creation by Kylían which opened Munich’s ballet festival week in 2009. Performance rights of “Zugvögel” are reserved for the Bavarian State Ballet. (more…)

Today’s Trash and Tradition Warmed Up

“The Girl and the Knife Thrower”, “Le Sacre du Printemps”
Bavarian State Ballet
Reithalle (Riding Hall)
Munich, Germany
June 19, 2014

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, The Girl and the Knife Thrower, Bavarian State Ballet One of this season’s revivals that dance connoisseurs in Germany awaited with much interest, was Mary Wigman’s “Le Sacre du Printemps”. More than fifty years after its Berlin premiere, the Bavarian State Ballet tried to bring the piece back to the stage together with a modern counterpart: Simone Sandroni’s “The Girl and the Knife Thrower”.

Sandroni’s ballet is based on an eponymous cycle of poems by German writer Wolf Wondratschek about singular moments in the daily life of a circus troupe. The main characters are the knife thrower, his target – a girl, two other young women and a clown. Sandroni relocated the goings-on to a filthy playground and supplemented the group of itinerants by devising roles for two hip-hop Russians.

(more…)

More, Please!

“Les Ballets Russes”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
May 30, 2014

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf

1. J.Amo, M.Chashchegorov and ensemble, "Les Biches" by B.Nijinska, Bavarian State Ballet Thumbs up for Bavarian State Ballet! Known for their ambitious programs, the troika of artistic director Ivan Liška and his assistant directors Bettina Wagner-Bergelt and Wolfgang Oberender offer their audiences a varied diet, ranging from the classics to brand-new pieces. While Cunningham, Limón and Massine were already part of this season’s menu, some days ago the Munich trio served up a formidable evening of Ballets Russes. If the remaining two premieres – Oskar Schlemmer’s “Triadic Ballet” and Mary Wigman’s “Le Sacre du Printemps” – are danced with the same verve the prospects for ballet aficionados are happy ones. (more…)

Pieces by Maliphant, Limón and Massine Put to the Test

“Forever Young”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
February 01, 2014

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Nikita Korotkov and Ekaterina Petina, Broken Fall by Russell Maliphant, Forever Young, Bavarian State Ballet“Forever young”, claims the Bavarian State Ballet, are the pieces on this eponymous triple bill, which premiered last season. At least two of them – “The Moor’s Pavane”, choreographed in 1949 by modern dance icon José Limón, and “Choreartium”, choreographed in 1933 by Léonide Massine – are said to be masterpieces exempt from aging. The third, Russell Maliphant’s “Broken Fall”, dating from 2003, has yet to prove its endurance.

The evening started with the contemporary “Broken Fall” and turned back along the timeline to the modernist classics. Created for the Royal Ballet, or more precisely for Sylvie Guillem, the Maliphant work toys with gravity and the risk of falling by challenging the body control of three dancers. It tests the limits of mutual trust. Set to artificial soundscapes by Berry Adamson, the atmosphere was slightly surreal. Two men and one woman – Matej Urban, Nikita Korotkov and Ekaterina Petina -, bare foot and clad in shorts and simple tops, gave little samples of their abilities in passing. They seemed cool professionals engaged in casual training. Their interactions began with slow motion lifts and counterbalances, the interactions becoming more and more risky. Petina’s knee pads seemed to proclaim that, in the sports context, no hazard would be avoided. The three dancers’ faces were, aptly, serious throughout. Although the dancing had the appearance of contact improvisation, it lacked spontaneity and play. Everything was too well-calculated. Lifts and falls were audacious, yet all motion had a smooth quality with the transitions, especially, being softened. Consequently, the interaction of strongly contrasting forces was pretty much watered down. What we got was a physical gymnastics demonstration. Petina, in her final solo which included some classical dance vocabulary, had feline strength, radiated power and was expressive – more so than anything preceding this display.

(more…)