sexta-feira, 14 de abril de 2017

Happy Easter everyone: on the fifth Avenue with Judy and Fred!

In your easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest fellow in the easter parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look us over,
We'll be the proudest couple in the easter parade.
On the avenue, fifth avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your easter bonnet,
And of the guy I'm taking to the easter parade.

quinta-feira, 13 de abril de 2017

Wiener Staatsoper: a talk with Igor Zapravdin

A talk with Igor Zapravdin: April 5th, 2017

Astrologically speaking, what you make of yourself is a “10th house matter”.

The 10th house describes your career, your public reputation, your worldly status. It suggests your optimum contribution to society, the qualities for which you'd like to be admired and respected.

People who have their “sun” in the 10th house are blessed with so much awareness that when they enter a room every single person turns in their direction. This has to be the case with Igor Zapravdin.

At the precise moment when he entered the Café, in which our interview was going to take place, he became the center of attention, in an almost ferocious but natural, uncomplicated way at the same time.

After shaking hands and exchanging a warm embrace, we sat down to “talk”. Oh, I do love talking to genius. I do love talking to people with broad experience and deep knowledge of their “métier”. It has been a long time since I realized that in order to go further, one has to ask questions. Many questions. Even if you feel that may be “silly”. When I think back at all people I have met, I sometimes think: why didn't I ask more? Why didn't I ask them to dinner so we could talk more? It is really a long time since I stopped being shy about asking too much. And I am glad about that! As Jane Fonda once said “It is so much better to be interested than interesting... “.

Igor Zapravdin was born in Sevastopol (Crimea) and started his musical studies at the early age of 6. When I asked him if he had ever also been to ballet classes he answered immediately “Of course, during my times in music school I also went to ballet classes... for about 6 years!”
That made it all clear to me – this unique understanding of ballet and of the needs of the ballet teacher. This unique feeling for tempo. “There must be a total feeling for the person you are working with. Class is a holly place. Respect and understanding are required. Albert (Mirzoyan) knows what he needs. I give it to him – But this understanding comes with time... We have been working together for so many years!”.

Mr. Zapravdin has been working since 1992 at the Vienna State Opera.

“I am a ballet pianist – you see, a ballet pianist can be a concert pianist but a concert pianist is not a ballet pianist!” he continued, “ There are three extremely important things: the ballet repertoire – even of unimportant pieces, capacity of improvisation and the knowledge of ballet technique itself! Without these three vital things, you cannot be a ballet pianist!”

Talking to him and concentrating on writing down every single important information is not an easy thing. He is quick, pin-pointed to the last details about his work and “his soul overflows with excitement” while he is talking. Talking about the things he loves most!

“Mr. Zapravdin, you have done a great work with the musical arrangements of “Le Corsaire”... “ I started to say. “Yes, that had to be done... You see, the score from “Le Corsaire” has not the musical quality of a “Giselle”. There were so many pieces that were added to it through the years. Music from eleven composers! I have reduced them to 5!”

“Which is your favourite com... ?“ Before I could finish my sentence he answered “Riccardo Drigo”, his eyes shining with delight a the very mention of his favourite composer.

A man of great stamina, Mr. Zapravdin has been working on extra projects that include a Gala in Luxembourg on May 20th & 21st (with Vladimir Malakhov, Lucia Lacarra, Marlon Dino, Eno Peci & Natascha Kusch among others), which unfortunately I will not be able to attend and his own 25 year Jubilee at the State Opera which will take place on October 29th at the Volkstheater, which I will surely attend to.

But that is the thing about Mr. Zapravdin his total dedication and love to a profession that found him. Yes, I do believe that artists do not look for their profession. They are chosen by it! And this the fascinating thing. I could still be sitting there, listening to the wisdom of this learned gentlemen! I am looking forward to learning more from him and from his infinite cultural baggage!

Many thanks!

Some facts about Mr. Zapravdin:

After attending music and Ballet school, Mr. Zapravdin continued his studies and graduated for composition and classical piano from the Academic Music College under the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory and Moscow State Pedagogical University. In Moscow he worked as a repetiteur in many different theatres such as “Stanislavskiy”, “ Nemirovich Danchenko Musical Theatre”, “The Musical Theatre for children” (Natalija Sac) and the “Russian State Ballet Theatre” under the direction of V.Gordeev.

Since 1992 he has been working at the “Vienna State Opera” as a Soloist and Ballet pianist. He has been in many productions as a Concert Pianist for Ballet productions, accompanying the Vienna State Opera on tournées to Luxembourg, Tokyo and Monte Carlo. Zapravdin has played in Russia, Austria, Paris, Varna, Budapest, Tokyo, South Korea, Luxembourg and Brazil.
He is the music director of the Nureyev-Gala in Kazan (Russia) and of the Fanny Elssler gala which takes him to play at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. He also collaborated with the cellist and Orchestra Conductor Mstislav Rostropovich.

He has edited the musical arrangements of “La Bayadére”, “The Ice Queen” and from the “pas de six” from “Laurencia”. He has also published music CDs for Ballet lessons focused on the least known classical repertoire.

domingo, 9 de abril de 2017

Wiener Staatsballet: April 6th, 2017, "Giselle rouge" - revisited.

When I heard that Robert Gabdullin was in the revival of „Giselle rouge” as “the partner” (Serge Lifar), I felt very tempted to watch this show again.

Adding to my curiosity was the “new cast”: Nina Poláková as “the ballerina” (Olga Alexandrovna Spessivtseva), James Stephens as “the friend” (Serge Lifar’s lover) and the fact that on April 6th Vladimir Shishov would be playing the police inspector (Olga’s mad, sexual, insane love affair).

Copyright: Ashley Taylor/ Wiener Staatsballet.

But I had decided not to concentrate only on the main characters (like during the last times I was in the audience watching this wonderful piece) but on the corps-de-ballet. I always have the feeling that Boris Eifman’s work is constructed through “bridges” – those lead us from one “group scene” to the next letting the main characters play “in between” – but never letting us forget that the whole environment around those is the explanation of their behavior. Their “Alibi” to put it plainly. Think of hos “Ana Karenina” for example…

Copyright: Ashley Taylor / Wiener Staatsballet.

Of course I could not do “just” that – I mean, not concentrate on the main characters. There was a lot of emotion and art’s “finesse” going on the stage of the Volksoper last night.

First of all it must be said that Andreas Schüller conducting skills are much more than you can expect at this house. Brilliant. “Giselle rouge” covers a wide range from Tchaikowsky to Adam, from Schnittke to Bizet and than from popular music (Yes, sir that’s my baby) back to Tchaikowsky and Adam back again… amazing!

Kamil Pavelka gave us a god portrait of the “teacher” – not so dramatic like Peci’s portrayal but extremely human, believable, honest. I liked this understatement. Daring and very effectfull.

James Stephen’s “friend” was good and correct. Somehow a little bit tense for me. I admire this dancer’s clean technique and long arms and legs, which will surely be a kind of asset in his future life.

Copyright: Ashley Taylor / Wiener Staatsballet

Robert Gabdullin gave another “reading” of “Serge Lifar”: not so affected like the ones I had seen before. He made us believe in Serge’s “duality”, “ambiguity” and (in his way) “honest” feelings for Olga. He was also a man of flesh and blood. Needless to say that Mr. Gabdullin’s presence on stage is growing stronger and stronger every day. An artist. Sensibility is the key word.

Copyright: Ashley Taylor / Wiener Staatsballet

Vladimir Shishov feeling “at home” in his role as the “Inspector”. Impressive. This was the first time I have seen him in this role. And it was extremely threatening. I felt afraid sometimes… Just after a few seconds on stage – in his first intense “meeting” with Olga –he lifts her and holds her with one arm two and half meters above the stage. At this he showed her (and us) who was “the boss ‘round here”. Mr. Shishov’s presence on stage has always been a great one. He usually dominates the whole house. But this police inspector is surely a “notch above”. Not only a perfect partner but exploding within himself in a craze of feelings. Applause.

Copyright: Ashley Taylor / Wiener Staatsballet

Nina Poláková’s Olga is a very special creation. Miss Poláková, a prima ballerina at the height of her career, presented the audience with such a fine performance and this is not easy to put into words… I am not discussing technique – this “tool” she is in complete command of – but about the emotional aspects of an artist’s performance. In an awesome way she gave an extremely pin-pointed performance. Growing up, being abused, leaving her country and an abusive relationship, finding no love, falling into despair, becoming mad…

For the first time ever I was really touched when she was put into the straight jacket in order to leave the stage during “Giselle”. The once “beautiful Olga” turns into the “mad Olga”. An amazing performance. I like to honour talent.
Tonight, after the performance – I almost never do this anymore – I HAD to wait for Miss Poláková to salute her.
And congratulate her for waking so many emotions!
Such an emotional portrait!

But I do not wish to finish this critic before mentioning the corps-de-ballet. As I have written before – I have paid much more attention to those bridges and began more and fascinated by them. All group scenes are fantastic – and require sometimes quite quick costume changes. I congratulate the corps-de-ballet for such an exquisite, finely rehearsed, precise performance… Bravo Elena Bottaro, Gala Jovanovic, Eszter Ledán, Anita Manolova, Laura Nistor, Alaia Rogers, Francesco Costa, Marat Davletshin (great posture), Marian Furnica, Igor Milos, Dumitru Tiran, Jaimy van Overeem to name just a few…

Great evening!

quinta-feira, 23 de março de 2017

Wiener Staatsballet: March 22nd, 2017. "Onegin" revisited.

For me Onegin is and always will be one the most sensitive works ever made for ballet. It may sound ridiculous – due to the fact that it is based on Pushkin’s lyrical work – but it is pure poetry... Poetry perfectly translated into ballet by John Cranko, for me until today one of the great genius of last century’s ballet – his work will live forever: I always begin, all over again, to admire immensely his “pas de deux solutions” and group scenes, as if I had never seen them before. And his personal way of building the characters into dance and into the story-telling… more to that a little bit later.

Maria Yakovleva/Roman Lazik: Copyright Wiener Staatsoper/ Ashley Taylor

I was very pleased with the Corps-de-Ballet. Last time I had seen this production I thought that a lot of the precision Cranko put in his work was missing and lots of work should be done: directions, heads and – mostly – arms… that single precision that this South-African brought to life... But yesterday’s performance showed that the company has been working very hard on “style & precision”. And that made me glad! Very glad indeed! So many new faces in the company, which I am not able to distinguish from each other or, better put it this way, faces to which I cannot yet add a name to. I have to write about the ones nobody ever writes about – I have space enough, here on this online platform – and I do not have to reduce my reviews to a few sentences...

Wonderful work by Elena Bottaro (always a joy to look at!), Suzan Opperman, Céline Janou Weder (both such “pros”) and Alaia Rogers (who gave us a beautiful and precise “mirror reflection” of Tatjana – showing through her face all the thoughts, doubts and feelings of the main character! No an easy task). But we all agree that we would love to have a mirror reflection just like Miss Roger's face!

The same applies to the boys – growing very strongly as a group, in complete “unison” with each other.
I have the feeling that between male dancers there are not so many “new faces” and I’d like to mention the names on which an audience can always “rely on” (and put “their feet up and relax because of the good work): Marat Davletshin, Marcin Demp, Alexis Forabosco (that will dance Gremin soon… I guess I’ll have to return to the Opera sooner than I thought!), Igor Milos, Tristan Ridel, James Stephens, Dumitru Taran, Zsolt Törok, Jaimy van Overeem and Géraud Wielick. Dancers you can really rely on. I do not remember – in all years I have been in Vienna, well... decades in fact, following Ballet here in Vienna – to have witnessed a moment in which the male dancers from the Corps-de-Ballet (many half soloists within the names I have mentioned) were so strong together. I like that! Awesome!

Nikisha Fogo, giving her début as Olga, gave a good performance – even though she must have been a bit nervous. But just as the curtain opened I felt that she “had the role” under control: in the scene in which she is doing some embroidery with her mother and foster mother, she was not doing affected movements as a dancer but really putting her strength in the fun of the movement without “pretending”. Sawing... She really was doing her embroidery. Her pas de deux with Lenski was the first “catchy” moment of the evening. Still, there is still some work to be done on this couple's "chemistry". But I am sure they will find it!

Nikisha Fogo/Davide Dato: copyright Wiener Staatsoper/Ashley Taylor.

Davide Dato who hasn’t stopped to delight his audiences – since 6 years (I just found a review that I wrote 5 years ago, in which I said “I am sure that we will be hearing from Mr. Dato very much in the future – I could not have been more right!) is at top form. But I always say this and he always gives performances that are “a notch above” the last one. Always “surpassing” the last performance. A gifted dancer and a very good actor. His Lenski is complete – down to the last details!

Davide Dato/Roman Lazik. Copyright: Wiener Staatsoper/Ashley Taylor.

For me the biggest “gift” of the evening was Alexandru (Sascha) Tcacenco as Gremin. I had never seen a Gremin that possessed such firmness and determination like this portrayal of the role. Dogmatic. Strong. After “decades” of watching Onegin I, at last, understood why Tatjana was so determined, in the last scene, in her way of sending Onegin away from her chambers. At last I understood the “bridge” that Cranko has thought of… the country girl that became the wife of an aristocrat learned also to “command” – because of his army-like behaviour… That is what I meant aat the beginning of this review. The line of story-telling and the way Cranko built his characters. But this was only possible because of Mr. Tcacenco’s performance. A dancer not only with a great stage presence but also with a great “insight” about the characters he’s playing, understanding them completely.

Alexandru Tcacenco/Maria Yakovleva: Copyright Wiener Staatsoper/Ashley Taylor

Maria Yakovleva and Roman Lazik were on their element.

Miss Yakovleva, looking beautifully frail, perhaps in the best role I have ever seen her in, gave us a sensitive portrayal of “haunted” Tatjana – down to the last details. Average audiences will not pay much attention to that – because THESE are no moments of “bravura” (and circus) onstage but, for example, her first “soliloquy” (bedroom scene) was a moment of pure art. The way she lies and moves in bed and then pretends to sleep while her foster mother enters the room, just to stand up a bit later to write on her desk… her thoughts and doubts and wishes symbolized by the mirror and the entrance of Onegin himself, in her dream. Miss Yakovleva delighted the audience – made us sometimes laugh, wonder and then cry… Her interpretation reminded me a lot of the character study that Marcia Haydée (the original Tatjana) did for her work. Insight. As a dancer and actress…
In fact, technique is not all, and those moments, in which the audience is simply “hypnotized” by such a touching performance are more worth than a trunk filled with diamonds and pearls - think about Cunegonde in "Candide".

Maria Yakovleva/Roman Lazik: Copyright Wiener Staatsoper/Ashley Taylor

Mr. Lazik – in the role of his life… that was my impression. And what else could I add to that? Not much. He knows all the dark sides of this character – but also, like he showed in the first act, his “dandy”, bored side. In a very well mastered interpretation, he turned Onegin, who in Russian literature would influence so many other Russian literary characters, into a real person. Flesh and blood. Onegin is a ballet that is not only perfect for him as a character but that also emphasizes his technique and his physique – long legs and very special arms.
A pure joy for Balletomanes – although sad, very sad: think about this quote that Pushkin wrote about Onegin's character: ““..depression still kept guard on him, and chased after him like a shadow - or like a faithful wife.” 

Onegin is a very “round” piece – a form I simply love – precise and compact. There are no “wasted moments”. Thank you, John Cranko!

segunda-feira, 13 de março de 2017

Bayerisches Staatsballet, March 10th, 2017: Spartacus

Bayerisches Staatsballet, 2017, March 10th: Spartacus

To be very honest I was sort of skeptical about visiting a performance of „Spartacus“(a ballet 100% associated with the Russian culture and a very peculiar feeling for aesthetics ) at the Bayerische Oper in Munich… but I could not have been more delighted after watching it!

I arrived a bit earlier than I wanted and had the time to visit the Opera.
Such a difference from Vienna: 95% Germans in comparison to the many tourists that visit the Opera in Vienna. I liked that!

I had a lovely seat on the 10th row and then remembered that there is no central aisle (I had not been there for a long time) – a fact of which I am not fond of… you see, I suffer a bit from claustrophobia and “to know” that I can get out from anywhere quite quickly is ALWAYS important for me.
The performance started.

With the exception of the “schmaltzy” pas de deux in the second act, which was used on Britain’s TV series “The Onedin line” in the 70’s and became a “no go” for me, I love Khachaturian’s music!

It was masterly conducted by Karen Durgaryan (like Khachaturian also an Armenian) and the first notes drove me back to Vienna 1982, the last time I had seen this work with Vasiliev and Bessmertnova, while I recalled that this was “just” 35 years ago.

Copyright: W.Hösl / Bayerisches Staatsballet

The girls in the corps-de-ballet impressed me in a certain way. Not very homogenous in looks, height and style but very strong technically – and with lots of stage presence.

Unfortunately I cannot say the same for the boys. Somehow I had the feeling that they were still in need of more rehearsal and more vitamin injections to play these roles more strongly: heads, arms, leg’s elevations and even musicality… all a bit uncoordinated, and definitely not exact.
But there is potential there, within this group of young men.
One dancer impressed me, a very gifted young Italian man called Stefano Maggiolo. I would like to see more of him on stage in the future.

Copyright: W.Hösl / Bayerisches Staatsballet

Vladimir Shklyavov was a great Spartacus. Of course one cannot make comparisons to “both” Vasilievs in this role – which requires unbelievable precision, stamina and, pardon me the expression, the strength of a horse. Mr. Shklyarov, a strong dancer, had the audience all the time “under control”. A very sensible dancer and an actor.

Copyright: W.Hösl / Bayerisches Staatsballet

His wife, Maria Shirinkina, played the role of Phrygia, a role that is, quite honestly, dramatically and choreographically much inferior to Aegina’s. But she was in control of it. Correct. I like when, nowadays, dancers do not use any kind of over extension as Miss Shirinkina, a dancer with a beautiful, clean technique, never does. Unfortunately the hairdo of Phrygia (and the other “slave” girls) is something that should have been changed since decades… I have been saying this for years!
It still reminds me of “Bond Street” in the "swinging sixties" – which may have been surely considered very “daring” in 1968's Russia and in Grigorovich’s choreopgraphy….

Copyright: Charles Tandy / Bayerisches Staatsballet

Erik Murzagaliev gave us a great, strong Crassus: a wonderful and very sensual dancer in full control of the role (and with a very clever hairdo that made me think of British actor Nicholas Clay in “The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian”) he played this half part of the couple that opposes Spartacus and Phrygia, with a certainness that is very rare on stage, especially on dancers that are so young. But I must say that his stamina left him a bit during the third act. I found out lately that Mr. Murzagaliev took the role of Crassus a while ago – his picture is not even printed in the program.
I think that Mr. Murzagaliev is a dancer from whom we might hear a lot of in the near future.

Copyright: Charles Tandy / Bayerisches Staatsballet

The Star of the night was Prisca Zeisel. And the audience also thought so (Well, Miss Shirinkina had the first bow, Miss Zeisel the second... that showed the audience how much more important her performance was...). She gave us a wonderful portrait of Aegina. All the very direct ways and reasons of this quite complicated (not only emotionally but also technically) character were given to us on a “silver plate”. Miss Zeisel and her eyes “that tell us much more than she wants to reveal” (like Bette Davis’) was turned into a mad courtesan, possessed by power, lust and the flesh. This is for me the most difficult role of the show – emotionally and technically…

I won't go into pirouettes, jumps, details... she has it all... just the tool for her arstistry...

Prisca Zeisel has turned into another “persona” on stage - and that is the important point about this very young lady– dominating it, in full command of a beautiful technique and chemistry, being in full charge of her role and controlling the audience.
Giving us just what she wanted to give us "right now", playing with artistry, nearly flirting with us.
Just that.
Just simple as that.
That "simple thing" that Jane Fonda once reffered to as "to make love to the audience".
But you have to be a talent to do “just that”!
Her eye contact with the public has much to do with it.

By the way, Miss Zeisel was promoted to the rank of first soloists.
This is what I call a very well-deserved promotion!

Yes, I was very skeptical about this performance. But it was wonderful!
For me a production that is highly recommended!

segunda-feira, 20 de fevereiro de 2017

Wiener Staatsballet: February 19th, Premiére "Le Pavillon d'Armide" & "Le Sacre"

Wiener Staatsballet: February 19th, Premiére "Le Pavillon d'Armide" & "Le Sacre"

A première is always exciting.

This one was not supposed to be really very exciting for me:
I am not really a great fan of Neumeier’s work and I had the seen the general rehearsal last Friday.
But still…
I was very surprised.

Le Pavillon d’Armide

Before I start writing about what I have witnessed last night, I will break a rule.
Well, rules are made to be broken, at least mine are… by me: I always write about the main roles at the very end of a review but this time I must start with the words MIHAIL SOSNOVSCHI BRILLIANT!

Yes and even this adjective is still not really expressing what we witnessed yesterday with his interpretation of the tortured Nijinsky's soul.
This evening will be remembered because of him.

We all know dancers that are good actors but Mr. Sosnovschi’s performance was just “a notch above that”.

All of a sudden I realized that tears were running down my face with his interpretation.
Emotions… who could ask for anything more?
At a sort of career “top moment” (the moment in which a person reaches maturity but is still young enough to perform) he gave us a very sensible portrait of a tortured soul. Mr. Sosnovschi, an intelligent dancer that uses technique just as a tool for his artistry, he faced without fears the technical difficulties of the role (am I right that I witnessed twice triple tour-en-lairs?) and concentrated more in the character, telling the audience a “story”, making us eager to learn more about it.
A very intelligent reading of Nijinky's personality and character. The highest peak of this evening.
I dedicate this review to this most touching performance. I am glad that I could take part on it! Thank you.

Viennese audiences may be a bit over challenged by a piece that requires so much information and knowledge about ballet:
in the mad scenes there are many references to the original Nijinsky’s choreographies of “Faun”, “Petrouschka” and “Sacre”. But does the audience realize this?
If someone does not understand which roles Romola and Sergey Diaghilew (strangely mentioned in the programme as “Serge”) played in Nijinsky’s life, they'll miss a lot of the plot.
If someone does not know who Tamara Karsavina and Alexandra Baldina were and what “la danse siamoise”, the one movement from the Ballet Suite “Les orientales” represented for Nijinsky’s own sexuality, they are in troube.
If someone is not informed about his bipolarity. Then they’ll have a problem watching this show.

Neumeier’s language in Pavillon (which I had never seen before) reminded me of the same “formula” that he used in his “Dame aux Camelias”.
In “Dame” he uses fictional characters (Manon and Des Grieux) in pas de trois (with Marguerite) and even pas de quatres (including Des Grieux).

In “Pavillon” he does not use only fictional characters like the dancer from “dance siamoise”
(majestically played by Davide Dato – a dancer that never stops to surprise me… the thrill of the sensuality of this dance shivered the whole audience. I had to be sure about that, so I looked up in the dictionary: Shiver: a shudder felt down one's back, due to either fear, anticipation, nervousness, or excitement)
and Armide, played very securely by Nina Polakova.

But also Nijinsky himself as a dancer (Denny Cherevychlo’s first entrance is a moment of pure poetry. Later he once more amazed the audience with his technique and stamina),
Tamara Karsavina (very well played “in the character” by Maria Yakovleva although a bit insecure technically),
Alexandra Baldina (danced with a certain emotional aloofness but with great technical certainty by Nina Tonoli),
Sergey Diaghliew (wonderfully danced and well interpreted by Roman Lazik, that also played the doctor - a fact that seems to have confused many people. A very sensible dancer).

Nijinky and Diaghilew the PDD: Perhaps the most beautiful and openly homoreotic pas de deux in Neumeier’s repertoire. The kiss that Diaghlew places in his hand and puts on Nijinsky’s lips is a moment of pure emotion.

In the “present” Nijinsky is in company oh his wife Romola, very dramatically played by the very sensible and talented Nina Polakova that not only wore the most elegant gown of the evening but displayed emotions on stage that are not so usual in dancing. A beautiful, touching performance!

Choreographically speaking I found the connections from Nijinsky at the present to Nijinsky as a dance pupil quite difficult to follow.
If you’d not know that this dancer (Richard Szabó) was supposed to be Nijinsky as a young boy, you would not understand it. Perhaps the very different looks of Mr. Szabó compared to the classical fairness of Mr. Sosnovschi don’t give us the hint. A matter of wrong casting. A younger dancer like Mr. Wielick, that looks much more alike to Mr. Sosnovchi, would have suited the role much better.

Another interesting point that reminded me extremely of “La dame aux camelias”: the walkers in the park… It is so interesting to follow the phases in a choreographer’s career and find the similarities in works that they have done within the same period of creativy.
More to that later.

Le Sacre,
is not one my favourite pieces. Having been choreographed in 1972 it has become “dated” with all those endless repetitions of queues and rows and endless “passing through” back and forth, between each other’s legs. Over and under each other. It is so “dated” in its resolutions (unlike Cranko’s pas de deux, for example) and not an easy piece to dance.
And I am glad that I had never to learn how to “count” the music (although I love it!).
It is really not a very comfortable piece for the dancers. Especially for the corps de Ballet. That is why I start this piece of my review (again breaking an own rule) by writing of my biggest admiration and respect to dancers like Suzan Oppermann, Alaia Rogers, Céline Janou Weder, Laura Nistor, Leonardo Basilio, Marcin Dempc, Marian Furnica, Greig Matthews, Tristan Ridel, Dumitru Taran, Alexandru Tcacenco, Zsolt Törok, Géraud Wielick and other members of the cast. This piece is harder to play than to do a “Jane Fonda’s aerobic class” of the 80’s!

For me personally there are no “main roles” in “Sacre”. Sometimes I think that the last solo (danced, by the way, beautifully and with the stamina of a bull by Rebecca Horner) was just an excuse to pick “a name” as a “marquee name” to attract audiences back in the 70's. I am glad that Miss Horner is getting such roles - not an easy dancer to cast - she is neither the lyrical nor the classical "on you toe type" Ballerina. Quite difficult to imagine her in more "formal" productions but she seems to exceed in such productions, like the two Neumeier's choreographies in which she has been casted in the last two last years. But they are, unfortunately, very selden in the Opera's repertoire.

Back to the solo (is she going to be sacrificed or is she killing herself? That was never, since the 70's, clear to me!): We cannot forget that we are talking about 1972 and Neumeier was not so known at those times (later that solo would even be played by a dancer that was complete naked, I think her name was Beatriz Cordua).
But, also here, these are athe similarities during a choreographer’s period, which I wrote about while commenting on “Pavillon” and “La Dame aux Camelias”. This endless display of “power”, the repetitious hard movement solutions, the constant strength required for this last solo (that amazes audiences) reminds me of the last “Wife’s solo” in "Joseph’s legend".
It has the same language line, except for the endless running.
Funny how choreographer’s stick to something for such a long while.
Although I sometimes thing that the “young choreographer’s vocabulary” (he was young at the time) was perhaps too short.
And this brings a sort of inarticulateness at the end of the creative process.

Nevertheless it was wonderful to witness once more the versatility of dancers that can do anything: Ioana Avraam, Alice Firenze and Eszter Ledan – wild, ferocious in fact, with their hair open, as well as the strength of Masayu Kimoto, Eno Peci and especially Francesco Costa, a young dancer that is turning into a very fine dancer – in such a short time.
A dancer with an extremely masculine presence and charisma on stage.

To add to all that we cannot leave unmentioned Michael Boder’s conducting. Always a pleasure.
A very enjoyable night.

All pictures, except Nijinsky's "Dance Siamoise": Copyright Ashley Taylor / Wiener Staatsballet. With my kindest Thanks.

quinta-feira, 26 de janeiro de 2017

Julie, Twiggy, Sandy Wilson and Ken: The Boyfriend...

Julie Andrews's first Broadway musical was Sandy Wilson's "The boyfriend" (1954), a simple love-story full of the clichés of the 20's. Lovely and endearing. But very simple indeed. And audience's needs were changing fast.

Julie conquered New York's audiences and went on to star on "My fair Lady"; Loew's und Lerner's musical adaptation of Bernard Shaw's masterpiece about classes and prejudice. But that is another story.

The Boyfriend's rights were "bought" by MGM but nothing ever came out of that. The story-line was too simple, to naíve... "The boyfriend" was forgotten in some dusty shelf between hundreds of scripts and screenplays.

Then, one day in 1969 (times in which "Hair" and "Easy Rider" were successes and the "flower-power" was at its best), "rageous mad", daring British Movie maker Ken Russell decided to film it - and how clever he was: he staged it as a theatre play in a terrible and cheap West-End theatre (on the wrong side of the tracks), added a whole back-stage story to it and even a Hollywood producer that "had visions" about the silly numbers that were being played on stage, turning them in his mind into greatly produced "Hollywood Musical numbers" (From "Flying down to Rio" till "The Wizard of Oz). Russell transformed it into a classic and cult film... Unforgettable!

A nameless cameo by Glenda Jackson can simply never be forgotten.

A marvelous professional cast (including Royal Ballet's Christopher Gable) headed by a disarmingly amateurisch "Twiggy" (just trying a new step in her career after being the fashionable "Bond Street's and Mary Quant's darling" of the "swinging 60's").

The result? Marvelous, outrageously "mad"... And I love it. Still.

My favourite number: Poor little Pierrette...