quinta-feira, 3 de novembro de 2016

Wiener Staatsballet November 1st, 2016: „Balanchine / Liang / Proietto“ – Premiére

The evening started in a very positive way:

just before the performance started, there was a short conference in which Edwaard Liang and Daniel Proietto spoke not only about their works but also about their point of views on dance.
Mr. Liang finished this short introduction with very beautiful and touching words about dancers and choreographers and dance:
“We want to change things” as he mentioned how the beauty of art can change things within a human being…

These coud not have been more appropriate words to start an evening like this.

Excitement was in the air – I met some dear friends and we were in total rapport, feeling something in common: happiness and joy in being able to witness again something new.
Yes, excitement. Pure excitement.

The programme opened with Balanchine’s “Simphony in C”.
As I normally say: “Mr. B. is Mr. B.”. A commentary which may not make sense first but I am always reffering to his quick, tricky and unique style.
Coming from times in which dancers from the ABT not even dared to think about dancing what their colleagues at the NYC Ballet were doing,"just across the road",
I am still very impressed that so many companies around the world have included Balanchine’s works in their repertoire.
And quite well, I must say. Vienna is no exception.

It is not easy, as we used to say, not to look like a wire-hanger while staying still on stage – especially in the second and last movements.
Gala Jovanovic mastered this very tricky situation beautifully. Chapeau!

Natascha Mair. Copyright: Ashley Taylor

There were some “tempo problems”: specially during the lifts – the main soloists were slight out of synchronization with the “second couples” – but the music is so quick anyhow!
Natascha Mair and Jakob Feyrerlik are a beautiful pair on stage: she very much “on Mr. B's style”, he, growing so fast as an artist. A joy to watch this from performance to performance.

Liudmila Konovalova / Vladimir Shishov. Copyright: Ashley Taylor

Liudmila Konovalova and Vladimir Shishov, with the piece I consider the hardest in “Symphony”: very demanding but quite ungrateful. The sort of pas de deux which will not cause an standing ovation – except for connoisseurs. Both gave a wonderful portratit of what real artists are made of!

Nina Tonoli, charming and Denys Cherevychko – jumping better than ever.
Nina Tonoli / Denys Chrevychko. Copyright: Ashley Taylor

Last but not least: Alice Firenze – technically VERY exact and cofident. Beautiful. A fine dancer.
Robert Gabdulin showing as usual a beautiful presence on stage.
Notable members of the corps de ballet – good to watch closely dancers like Franziska Wallner-Hollinek, Suzan Oppermann and to welcome back lovely Céline Janou Weder.
This season is being quite difficult: injuries, pregnancies. “Chapeau” to the four very young girls – still at school – that jumped in!

Murmuration is a beautiful piece. Perhaps not for Ballet-only spectators. But a joy to watch…

Because of that the second intermission was extremely interesting: I followed many interesting discussions.

Exactly what Mr. Liang had said before the performance, started happening within the spectators: choreographers, dancers want to change things.

Many were taking a deep breath, trying either to understand or not to judge to hard or even willing to change their points of view.
This “discussing” art in a sensible way, this exchange of opinions and ideas has a very good name in Portuguese and Spanish: “Tertúlias”.
Perhaps you know this name from somewhere :-)
These are gatherings of different persons with different opinions that discuss and philosophize about art aspects, respecting each other - even when they do no share the same opinion.
I like that.

Even though at the very beginning I was not quite sure what to make out of it, this work conquered me and set me into a sort of dream.

The dancers were surely chosen with much care and accuracy: Ioanna Avraam, Mr. Feyferlik, Miss Ledán, Miss Firenze, Leonardo Basílio (that, all of a sudden is giving a new reading of his own persona – very confident on stage!).

Nina Poláková / Roman Lazik. Copyright: Ashley Taylor

The main pas de deux (Nina Poláková and Roman Lazik) is – to my point of view a bit too long and repetitious. I would like to point that Mr. Lazik surprised me in a very positive way yesterday.
A very good partner on whom his partners may really relly upon.
Miss Poláková – always “fire and emotions” on stage.
Especial distinction for Igor Milos and Zsolt Török in the “boys’ group”. Strong performances.

Blanc – the piece that everyone was waiting for…

I was thrilled by its conceptual complexity.
Apart from Daniel Proietto’s “relaunch” of a certain dance feeling (and way) that he considers somehow lost,
there is much more to this piece.

He said: Fokin’s “Les Sylphides” was an homage to “La Sylphide”. Therefore Blanc is an homage to the homage”.

Delicacy and, to quote Jane Austen, “sense and sensibility”.
Poetry… (I personally think that the use of the original English text would have been better – Mr. Rupp was sometime hard to understand…
and let’s be honest: how many vistors from abroad do we have at the Opera that do not understand a single word of german ?).
But the idea itself – to have “poetry” on stage, not only in the form of dancing, is beautiful.

Some people say that the "poet" was not necessary - appart from the fact that we must respect his concept, we must admit that not every Opera House has such dancers as Miss Papava and Mr.Peçi.

The scenery and lights were prodigiously good.

Most of all I was impressed, at the very end – when the poet meets his muse, now in reality, now as the woman she is.

As the “meadow’s set” appeared, or better said, as it was opend in fornt of us, I thought of some Hollywood magic from the 30’s…
It reminded me, somehow, the colours of “The wizard of Oz” - the flower fields in front of the Emerald City.

As if the piece was telling us that reality is even more magical and colourful than a dream... Beautiful!

Natascha Mair / Davide Dato. Copyright Ashley Taylor.

In fact, if you think about the “negatives” (which in fact on the very day of the premiére had to be changed from a quartet into a trio)
that coud make sense. Lots of sense.

The “negatives” – what a great metaphor, were danced exquisitely by Natascha Mair, Davide Dato and Masayu Kimoto.

My only, not very favorable, comment is to the use of the “negative film” in the background:
As long as landscapes, woods in fact, were being shown it was all right.
But the use of a man’s face (was this the poet?) was a little bit too much for me.
It gave me the feeling that the mise-en-scène was trying to explain itself.
Like saying: “See? The dancers are black and have white hair because they are “negatives”… “. Not really necessary.
Good sense and understanding are a "Conditio Sinequanon" for Ballet-goers
(Although I must admit that - from my seat - I could follow some reactions in the boxes and faces that made me quite sure that some people in the audience were not quite understanding what they were watching).

Ketevan Papava / Eno Peçi. Copyright Ashley Taylor

Ketevan Papava end Eno Peçi leaded the piece gracefully – both dancers are also extremely gifted in their acting skills – always portraying with a kaleidoscope of emotions the parts, roles they are involved with. Expressive, emotional, professional. Artists and stars of the first magnitude.

My congratulations – not only to Mr. Proietto for this intelliegnt piece but to the whole company for such an evening. Great job!

And once more to Mr. Legris for trying new things. New grounds, new challenges - and giving chances to a new generation of choreographers.

Merci, Manuel.

Copyright: Balázs Delbó / Wiener Staatsoper / Wiener Staatsballet

sábado, 29 de outubro de 2016

My Gheisha...

Uma curta „introdução“ `a esta Tertúlia…

Da Wikipedia:

Gueixa (芸者?), Geiko (芸子?) ou Gueigi (芸妓?) são mulheres japonesas que estudam a tradição milenar da arte, dança e canto, e se caracterizam distintamente pelos trajes e maquiagem tradicionais. Contrariamente à opinião popular, as gueixas não são um equivalente oriental da prostituta; esse é um equívoco, originado no Ocidente, principalmente pela vestimenta das prostitutas tradicionais ter traços similares aos da cultura gueixa.

No Japão, a condição de gueixa é cultural, simbólica e repleta de status, delicadeza e tradição. Ao longo dos séculos, esse contexto foi desenvolvido pelo aperfeiçoamento da técnica dessas artes e pela estrutura rígida necessária para se tornar uma gueixa e permanecer como tal.

Alguns dizem que as gueixas habitam uma realidade separada, que eles chamam de karyūkai ou "a flor e mundo de salgueiro".

Tradicionalmente, a gueixa começaria seu treinamento em uma idade muito jovem, as vezes aos 3 ou 5 anos, mas a idade média era aos nove anos de idade. Isso não era uma prática comum nos distritos respeitáveis e desapareceu na década de 1950 com a proibição do trabalho infantil. Algumas meninas estavam ligadas às casas de gueixas (okyia) como filhas. Essas meninas ficaram conhecidas como hangyoku. Filhas de gueixas eram frequentemente criadas como gueixa, normalmente como uma sucessora (atotori, que significa "herdeiro" ou "herdeira" nesta situação particular) ou tendo papel de filha (musume-bun) para a okiya.

Elas dão continuidade a seu estudo da música e dança ao longo de suas vidas. Elas podem trabalhar até seus oitenta e noventa anos e praticam todos os dias, mesmo após setenta anos de experiência. 

Algumas gueixas não só dançam e tocam música, mas também são escritoras, fazendo poemas melancólicos. E outras pintam imagens ou compõem música.

Revendo o filme “My gheisha” com Shirley MacLaine e me deliciando com um trabalho dela que foi praticamente esquecido, fiquei mais uma vez intrigado com sua “transformação” para às cameras… que deve ter sido muito desconfortável…

Atriz de uma versatilidade extrema, ela se encontrava num período muito frutífero de sua carreira…

Tinha feito há pouco, entre outros vários papéis, “Simone Pistache” em “Can-Can” (bailando desenfreiadamente), a ascensorista em “The Appartment” (“Se meu apartamento falasse”) e a trágica Martha, que se suicida em “The children’s hour” (“Infamia), assumindo em “My Gheisha” o papel duplo de Lucy Dell / Yoko Mori como mais um desafio…

Maravilhosa MacLaine…

P.S. All pictures found in the internet. I owe no copyrights to these pictures.

sábado, 22 de outubro de 2016

Duška Sifnios (1934 - 2016)

Duška Sifnios

(Skopje, October 15th 1934, Brussels October 14th 2016)

My admiration and respect – FOREVER – to this beautiful Lady that created with Bejárt the “table role” of his “Boléro”.

An amazing dancer!

During the seventies I remember watching the whole "Boléro", with her and the Ballet de XXiéme Siécle, at a film exhibition promoted by the culture departmment of the belgium Consulate in Rio de Janeiro.

Her husband, André Vandernoot, conducted this beautiful live performance from 1961!

Does anyone know where a copy of this masterpiece could be found?
Such a lost treasure...

P.S. October 24th...
Her son, Patrick Vandernoot, has just sent the Bolero-video to me... such kindness!

terça-feira, 18 de outubro de 2016

Wiener Staatsballet October 17th, 2016: "Le Corsaire" - revisited

Somehow I remember a song from the rock-opera „Evita“ in which the main character says to Perón something like “we were just at the right time, at the right place”.

I was yesterday at the right time time, at the right place:

“Le Corsaire” at the State Opera Vienna with Liudmila Konovalova and – giving his debút in Vienna – the world famous Star Vadim Muntagirov (Royal Ballet).

What an evening…

I had not seen Manuel Legris’ “Le Corsaire” since its premiére, last March.
I remember writing these “thoughts” also last march in a critic:
At this point, and to finish this long review, I would like to quote Dame Margot Fonteyn’s, a person whose thoughts about art I much admire: “the first night is the worst time to make a hard and fast criticism: a baby never looks its best on the day it is born”.
Thinking earnestly about it, I added:
“If this baby is already looking like this on its first night, so good, it is surely going to be a beauty, a star of first magnitude”.

And it turned to be one!

Copyright: Thomas Schulz

The work, the cast, everything “matured” so beautifully during the last months.
Even though this Season is proving to be a difficult and hard one for some members of the company – due to many illnesses and even pregnancies , there is a certain “shortage” of dancers.
Five Médoras in a row for Liudmila Konovalova are surely a difficult task to manage. But her yesterday’s performance was a pure dream. It paid for all the struggle:
technically in top form, combining her talents as an actress in full unison with her partner – she filled the stage with so much emotion that sometimes it was quite hard for me to retain some tears.
I cherish these sublime moments.
She is one the few dancers to be at ease dancing both Médora and Gulnare. In perfect, full command of both parts.
What else can a choreographer wish for?

Copyright: Ashley Taylor (and many Thanks for the gorgeous pictures!)

Her sureness yesterday was a work of perfection. Even though I found the orchestra sometimes extremely quick
(especially during the fouettés in the coda).
But she mastered them with such an ease and joy and sense of perfectionism – never falling out of character or giving the impression of being preoccupied with “technicalities”.
A great, unforgettable performance, that I was lucky enough to witness.

Copyright: Ashley taylor

Vadim Muntagirov’s entrance was filled with so much enthusiasm that I wanted to applaud.
But this is not costume within Viennese “ballet-goers”… he must have missed it:
especially coming now from Covent Garden where this use of giving back emotion is very normal.
From the moment of his first entrance he dominated the stage – sometimes even when he was not in it. Apart from his technical qualities (his jumps are amazing: the “image” that haunted me until today was of him in the air – as if he would go up and stay there the double of time that a normal dancer does.
I admired much his gifts for partnership. A dancer that gives confidence to everyone.
But not only to his partner, also to the audience. Not for one second I feared that he might not finish his pirouettes or fall out of his tours en l’air or miss his tempo… never.
But – going back to his qualities as a partner: much more that being a strong partner, one could feel his complete dedication to Miss Konovalova.
He was the whole time WITH her – Conrad was in love with Médora and both made the roles so “believable”.
Something that, I must add, nearly the whole cast performing yesterday gave to the audience: this sense of not only watching beautiful dance but also of witnessing a beautiful, very dramatic story.
I love to have stories told to me...

Copyright: Thomas Schulz

Natascha Mair – one of the most extremely frail-looking, delicate ballerinas I have ever seen. And she combines strength and even mathematical precision to these gifts.
Such an intelligent dancer…
I just feel a slightly worried about a tendency to “over extension” – “une maladie” of our present dancing times that would not suit quite well the precious, quick, clean, ELEGANT technique of Miss Mair.
Especially during the first act, her partnership with Francesco Costa was absolutely amazing: both, Gulnare and Lanquedem, must be in the middle of the first act already “as warm” as many other performers much later on performance.
Bravura very early in a ballet evening may be very demanding - and treachurous!
They gave us impeccable and exciting performances.

Mr. Costa, a very masculine an strong dancer, was superb – his first lift of Miss Mayr even scared me:
I thought she’d not return “on time” to the floor.
He has been growing up very quickly as a dancer and is in full command of his jumps, pirouettes and tours en l’air
(even though there is a tendency to drop a bit to the left while on air – which makes his “landings” more difficult).

Alice Firenze , a perfect Zulméa and Davide Dato, a perfect Birbanto filled the stage – and the audience with sense of dynamic that is hard to match.
Fire in the air!
That is the only thing I could think of while watching both.

These two dancers are marvelous soloists. Ever since I have been following their careers they have been going on, maturing so fast as performers.

Birbanto’s dance is very praised by the audiences - and wonderful Davide Dato deserves every single applause... such a tallented and dedicated dancer!

But I have a certain feeling that the viennese audiences do not quite “understand” Zulméa as a role in which quality and “temperament” have nothing to do with dancing on your toes.
This is about not giving the right value, understanding to the dancing they are watching/witnessing.
About a certain lack of knowledge...
But viennese audiences were never known to master a full-comprehension of ballet like english, french (and american) audiences do...
This is sucha shame because this is a beautiful role danced by a marvelous, unique and expressive ballerina.

Copyright: Thomas Schulz

Last but not least I would like to mention Nina Tonoli, Anita Manolova and Eszter Ledán as the three odalisques:
Miss Tonoli and her clean technique are always a joy to watch (I feel sorry that I have missed her Gulnare during some of the last performances),
Miss Manolova has an exquisite poise and very singular posture.
Both gave very nice, very soft and musical interpretations of ”steps & emotions”.

But something that I had not understood until now became as clear as crystal as I watched Miss Ledán perform yesterday:
she has that – very rare – "quoi" of an “upper body quality” that, for example, made Margot Fonteyn a “star”.
With Fonteyn it was all about the "royal use" of the upper body (as her technique left very much to wish for). This was her “magic”.
Miss Ledán combines this fact with a very beautiful, clean technique and a special poise (and beauty).
This is her “magic” that so fascinates spectators.
And I like, especially in connection to Miss Ledán, to use the word MAGIC.
A word so needed nowadays in the world of Ballet!

A wonderful evening.

An unforgettable one, in fact.
During which, everything came together beautifully.

domingo, 16 de outubro de 2016

Wiener Staatsballet: Three dancers I like... very much...

That's it.

The images say it all...
no need to add anything!

Greig Matthews (Scotland), Alexis Forabosco (France) and Dumitru Taran (Moldavia) in "Manon" (2013, copyright Wiener Staatsoper).

domingo, 9 de outubro de 2016

Wiener Staatsballet October 8th, 2016: Van Manen / Ekman / Kylián - revisited

October 16th, 2016

I was asked to change this critic because I criticized Miss Rebecca Horn's and Mr.Kaydanowsky's work.
I was in a good mood and I changed it.

But I still do not understand why I did that. What made me do that...

I deleted the words but I still feel them.
My opinion has not been changed.

I shall never change a critic again. Critics are part of the trade. If you're on "Show-Bizz", you must count with it.

It is a shame that some people do not accept free speech which should belong to us all.
One should be absolutely free to voice (or in this case, write) opinions on subjects of any art form.
Art should speak to a person's emotions and evoke a response.
It is for no one else to decide what that response should or should not be and to censor an unfavourable opinion.

Best regards
Ricardo Leitner


It is always wonderful to watch performances – not such important ones – during the season…

New information…


is and will always be a very gloomy kind of ballet – and to be very honest it is NOT one of my favourite van Manen’s pieces. It is beautiful but it is also very boring… and terribly dark.
Lovely performances by Eszter Ledán, Alexandru Tcacenco (having his debut in this role) and Alice Firenze.

Even if I love and cherish Liudmila Konovalova’s work and stage presence I do not think this role is right for her… It does not frame the canvas of artistry that this beautiful Ballerina possesses.
It is not "enough" for her talents - and I hope you may have seen that I make a pont in writing this substantive in the plural form.

Mikhail Sosnovschi – looking very thin, long necked and younger than ever – always a pleasure to watch on stage.


Ekman’s choreography is always fun – so challenging -
Masayu Kimoto gave a new (for me), delightful reading of this role.

One should mention Alexis Forabosco (a strong dancer), Dumitru Taran and Greig Matthews – full of energy and giving the audience lots of “fun”.
Three dancers you can “rely” on.
I will never forget these three in "Manon". Pure joy!


One of Kylián’s masterpieces…
Ketevan Papava leading the piece in her own special way. Miss Papava is an inspiration to all “everyday ballet goers”.
I have been watching her work quite closely since many years and it is incredible what has been going on within her.
I am not talking about technique.
I am talking about “aura”, stage presence…
A Diva is being born.

Great performances by Alexis Forabosco (again very strong), Nina Polakova, Kamil Pavelka and Davide Dato – such a natural dancer…

But, the graetest pleasure was to remember Miss Marie-Claire D’Lyse’s performance some years ago... Unforgettable.

All in all: a pleasant, “nice” evening.

Not too special – but also not bad…

domingo, 2 de outubro de 2016

Svetlana Zakharova & Roberto Bolle: Swan Lake, 2nd act

Sem palavras hoje...
só olhando, sentindo estas imagens...

segunda-feira, 19 de setembro de 2016

Cyd Charisse e Fred Astaire... a muitas capas de livros...

...que povoaram minha infancia.

Como meus pais eram loucamente apaixonados pelas tramas da "Grand Dame" do crime, Agatha Christie, ainda existem nas estantes do apartamento no Rio de Janeiro vários exemplares de livros que levam em sua capa esta forma de ilustrações tão popular na época...

Livros amarelados pelo sol, livros porém que "vivem", com frases sublinhadas, anotações, flores secas, contas ou recortes de jornais que serviam para marcar as páginas - tão ao contrário dos frios "readers" de hoje em dia...

Olhá-las, digo, olhar estas capas me faz lembrar de "casa", da minha infancia, de férias e fins-de-semana em Penedo... Adoro estas ilustrações...

...e, last but not least: Vincente Minnelli soube captar a essencia deste "kitsch" no seu "The girl hunt Ballet" (MGM 1954, The band Wagon)