2017 Junge Choreographen des Wiener Staatsballets

May 23rd, 2017 § 0

Often Choreo.lab is the ballet highlight of the season at Vienna State Opera. Choreo.lab was originally the brainchild of Vienna Ballet Club founder Ingeborg Tichy-Luger and Staatsoper director Renato Zanella whose first edition took place in 2003. I’ve been fortunate to see each Choreo.lab since 2004 (I believe it was the second one) with full photo essays for many of them. 2017 is another Choreo.lab year (it seems to take place every second year now instead of every year).

Since French étoile Manuel Legris took over the reins at Staatsoper, he’s insisted on rebranding Choreolab as the rather dull “Junge Choreographen des Wiener Staatsballets”. Vienna ballet lovers remain grateful for his enthusiastic support under its new moniker.

Ingeborg-Tichy-Luger-Choreolab-2017
Ingeborg Tichy-Luger founder of choreo.lab and Vienna Ballet Club

2017 Junge Choreographen des Wiener Staatsballets Continues »

Wiener Volksoper: Eifman’s Red Giselle a Triumph

May 6th, 2017 § 0

Giselle-Rouge-Red-Kommissar-with-Giselle-Vladimir-Shishova-Nina-Polakova
Giselle-Rouge-Red-Kommissar-with-Giselle-Vladimir-Shishova-Nina-Polakova

There are few companies in the world who can pull off the first scene of Red Giselle. Boris Eifman puts eight princes on stage in glittering classic princely raimant and eight princesses in exquisite white tutus.

It’s a hallucinigenic and disorienting spectacle to face that many principal dancers at the same time, each dancing his or her grand role. Staatsoper is a particularly beautiful ballet company with the men for the most part fine featured and long limbed. The Staatsoper corps-de-ballet women are slim, soft curved and graceful. Thanks to their pretty faces and fine dancing skills the illusion of eight princes and eight Giselles convinces.

Staatsoper is a better match than Eifman’s own company for Red Giselle as the Staatsoper dancers perform the classics every week and are prettier. Eifman’s own group are a bit shorter and more muscular – primarily modern dancers.

Red Giselle’s story follows a principal ballerina who abandons her choreographer director husband in the early years of the Russian Revolution for a fling with a Red Kommissar. Initially her plans were for a short affair but the black coated kommissar is not prepared to let her go.

Wiener Volksoper: Eifman's Red Giselle a Triumph Continues »

Volksopera Review: Der Feuervogel | Petruschka | Movements to Stravinsky

April 30th, 2017 § 0

Feuervogel
David Dato in a photo by Johannes Ifkovits, the publicity image.
In Movements to Stravinsky costume where Dato does not dance

Volksoper has debuted a full evening of choreography dedicated to Igor Stravinsky’s musical work, Petrushka, Pulcinella Suite and Suite Italienne and The Firebird. What’s especially impressive about the evening is all three pieces are choreographed by Staatsoper born and bred talent. Eno Peci, András Lukács and Andrei Kaydanovsky all have enjoyed long careers as dancers and taken their own first steps as choreographers in the Staatsoper, often at Ballettclub’s Choreolab (coming up soon).

Stravinsky’s compositions for ballet were the core of Sergei Diaghelev’s Ballets Russes. The Firebird premiere took place in Paris Opera in 1910, while Petruschka premiere also took place in Paris but in Théâtre du Châtelet. The original choreographer for both ballets was Michal Fokine. Both of these ballets enjoy a rich tradition around the world, with versions in the repertoire of The Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov), National Ballet of Canada, The Bolshoi Theatre, the Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre to name just a few. Ironically enough, the Russian premiere of Fokine’s The Firebird had to wait until perestroika in 1993.

In fairness to Michal Fokine, what we saw this week should probably not bear the name of the original compositions, a while the music is still Stravinsky’s, neither the original choreography or libretto plays any role in Peci or Kaydanovsky’s creations.

Volksopera Review: Der Feuervogel | Petruschka | Movements to Stravinsky Continues »

Swimming in Swan Lake: Fifth International Dance Gala in Graz

May 10th, 2014 § 1

In his Fifth TanzGala Graz the director of the Graz Ballet, Darel Toulon decided to finish off dance critics once and for all. At half time, it’s already almost ten o’clock. We’ve seen seven excerpts and one full miniature already. The non-writing public is delighted by this cornocopia of choreography. Animated chat and high spirits reign.

The evening began with a short extract from one of Toulon’s own most ambitious works, Swan Trilogy (Schwanentrilogie). I saw the full piece at its premiere in 2009 and Swan Trilogy has aged well. The giant eggs with cracks in them create impressive atmosphere while Dianne Gray looks fabulous as the Swan princess. Michal Zabavik is in great form. The live orchestra give the performance the feel of one Europe’s great cultural capitals like Moscow or Paris. It’s a pity the excerpt was so short.

The next pas de deux came from Roland Petit’s Proust ou les intermittences du coeur. Two men dance naked to the waist as equal partners. Beautiful shapes, tender movement. Gabriel Faurie’s Elegy for Violoncello and Orchestra provided a deeply moving acoustic background for what Toulon correctly noted as a masterwork. 1974 is like today. Rainer Krenstetter and Marian Walter’s communication via movement will be the best we see tonight. A perfect performance of Petit’s perfect piece.

Marian Walter und Rainer Krenstetter in Roland Petits Duett aus Les intermittences du Coeur
Marian Walter and Rainer Krenstetter in Roland Petits
Duett from Les intermittences du Coeur

Swimming in Swan Lake: Fifth International Dance Gala in Graz Continues »

Review: Ballett-Hommage Forsythe | Horecna | Lander at Vienna Staatsoper

December 15th, 2013 § 0

The evening opens with Forsythe’s The Second Detail. When we see works like this, it’s clear Forsythe is such a great choreographer and his current strange experiments become even less comprehensible and more astonishing. But few people cared for Stravinski’s music in the 1920 so perhaps it’s we who just don’t understand.

Horecna Contra Clockwise Witness 1
Horecna Contra Clockwise Witness 1

The Second Detail opens up with a huge bright grey rehearsal space with just the words THE at the front. Thin white horizontal lines dividge the strange into precise grids. The dancers are in the same grey as the floor. I’m not quite sure why Apple is getting away with suing Samsung for packaging as Forsythe had the iPhone and MacBook Air boxing under control back in 1991 in Frankfurt. This is an early great work.

Vienna State Ballet company looks great dancing Forsythe these days. Under Legris, they’ve acquired both the élan necessary and the discipline necessary to put it all together. Strangely, the men have improved more than the women (who have been excellent as along as I’ve been in Vienna). Particularly notable is strongman Vladimir Shiskov but Mihail Sosnovichi also delivers an imposing performance while Eno Peci and Alexis Forbasco look good too. All of the men have developed powerful lower bodies and are a joy to watch.

Review: Ballett-Hommage Forsythe | Horecna | Lander at Vienna Staatsoper Continues »

Marchenwelt Ballett at Vienna’s Volksoper: A Fairy Tale Evening

October 19th, 2013 § 2

Volkoper plays an interesting role in the arts life of the Austrian capital. Viennese love both their operetta and their comic ballet and Volksoper must feed this sweet tooth.

Often the works are either historic pieces or imported. This year Volksoper ballet director Vesna Orlic and Staatsoper dancer and choreographer Andrey Kaydanovsky have collaborated on a new program called Marchenwelt or Fairy Tale World. The two parts are unified by dramatic Russian music, first Modest Mussorgski’s Pictures from an Exhibition and then Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scherezade.

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Boris Eder’s brilliant turn as the Genie stuck in a lantern in Orlic’s 1001 Nights

Kaydanovsky has contemporised The Ugly Duckling for his fairy tale. His version includes high fives, industrial agriculture and sport hunting with rifles. And why not? Fairy tales should be timeless.

Marchenwelt Ballett at Vienna's Volksoper: A Fairy Tale Evening Continues »

Celebrating Sacre in Graz

June 2nd, 2013 § 2

In Graz the 2013 season was dedicated to the work of Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes. The crowning achievement is a three piece full evening of Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky with full orchestra.

A sumptuous rendition of Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis & Chloe opens the evening. As substantial a stage as is the Oper Graz, the orchestra pit is full to bursting while the female voices take up the the left upper lodge. The male singers are in the wings backstage. The musical performance is worth the price of admission on its own. Combined with ballet director Toulon’s complex visuals, this is an extraordinary work. Majestic dancer Bostjan Ivanjsic takes centre stage as Daphnis. The role is a complex one, exploring a young man’s sexuality – first timid, then more aggressive. He throws himself into a pool on stage and comes out soaking wet and fully nude, challenging the slightly bourgeois Graz Opera audience with full frontal male nudity.

Celebrating Sacre in Graz Continues »

Vienna’s New Nutcracker

January 3rd, 2013 § 1

A new production of Rudolf Nureyev’s staging of Tchaikovsky’s classic at the Staatsoper with a fin-de-siècle set, a child army, and fake moustaches; plus: a guide to opera etiquette for kids.

The Nutcracker. Author: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Staatsoper

Nussknacker Konovalova
At the Vienna State Opera, Liudmila Konavlova as Clara holds the
nutcracker, surrounded by the giant heads of the grown-ups

Photo: Wiener Staatsoper

Every child should see The Nutcracker at least once. But if you want her to remember and him to treasure the occasion, best to be very careful which Nutcracker you choose.

Thus the new Nutcracker at Vienna State Opera is not a bad choice. It’s a Russian version, from Rudolf Nureyev, one of his first grand evening ballets in the West. The costumes are very traditional and very Russian: fancy officers’ uniforms, the grand gowns of the 19th century. The soldiers are Napoleonic and numerous, there are Hussars on horses (well, convincing enough). The decorations are as rich as the costumes, with photorealistic drawing rooms and massive grandfather clocks.

Vienna’s New Nutcracker Continues »