Elio Gervasi’s Solo with Guests (Part Two) in Vienna’s Odeon Theatre

October 12th, 2013 § 0

Elio-Gervasi-Solo-with-Guests

As the final show of this summer’s ImPulstantz, Vienna was privileged to welcome the premiere of a new work by underrecognised but brilliant Elio Gervasi. One of the first choreographers to bring modern movement to Vienna, his improvisational influence spread wide. Gervasi, like many creative geniuses, is often a bit gruff. Strong movement is his native idiom not redundant words and empty promises. After blooming at the end of the nineties and start of the noughts, Gervasi’s company was one of the first dance companies to fall victim to the city of Vienna’s heavy arts cuts starting in about 2004. For several years, Gervasi worked in miniature with either principle muse Leonie Wahl or at most a quartet of dancers. Most of the others, including Homunculus are no longer here at all.

Elio Gervasi's Solo with Guests (Part Two) in Vienna's Odeon Theatre Continues »

Staatsoper Nureyev Gala: Kourlaev and Tsymbal Shine in Mayerling

June 30th, 2013 § 0

Galas are often long affairs. And this one was no exception. Manuel Legris was fortunate to be mentored in his early dance career by Rudolf Nureyev during his reign at the Paris Opera. There is a Nureyev gala in Paris and now there is one in Vienna. I still question whether it makes sense to so honour someone who recklessly infected others with HIV but I do understand Legris’s attachment to the teacher who gave him so much.

The evening opened with a fine excerpt from La Sylphide with full decorations, with Maria Yakovleva in the eponymous title role and Masayu Kimoto as her partner. While La Sylphide is always easier to watch in its entirety both were very good and the corps-de-ballet looked good too. An auspicious start.

Staatsoper Nureyev Gala: Kourlaev and Tsymbal Shine in Mayerling Continues »

Review: Maria Yakovleva as La Sylphide

April 8th, 2013 § 1

As some of you might know, I recently wrote a long front page article about the struggle to be prima among the ballerinas at Vienna's Staatsoper, started by Ludmila Konavlov (print edition for now, will appear under my profile Alec Kinnear). In that article I wrote about Maria Yakovleva and it occurred to me that I hadn't seen Yakovleva in a leading role in a classical ballet since her first years in Vienna. I'd recommended her as an ideal Sylphide and decided to test my recommendation.

Yakovleva is now in her prime as a ballerina at 27 years of age. It's always a joy to see a dancer with all the strength and beauty of youth, but with solid experience. The non-ballet public often makes the mistake of going to see celebrated dancers when they are past their prime. The time to see Yakovleva is now.


Maria Yakoleva, Masayu Kimoto and Andrey Kaydanovsky in the tragic final scene
of La Sylphide at Vienna State Opera 7 April 2013: 
Yakoleva's final moments are truly touching

Returning to the young Yakovleva, her early faults were too much attention to her footwork and not enough attention to her emotions, as well as too strong a reliance on what is indeed a charming smile. In modern works, recently she's overcome her urge to charm with strong expressive dancing. Yet in the title role of La Sylphide, Yakovleva continues to charm but without entirely bewitching. There's some secret part of her which she does not give to the stage. This is not to say Yakovleva is not entirely delightful as she effortlessly dances through even the most challenging sequences.

Review: Maria Yakovleva as La Sylphide 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 »

Girl Sleeping, Night Train

August 8th, 2012 § 3

Girl Sleeping Night Train
Girl Sleeping Night Train

The colours of the bottle, the shoes and the skirt fascinated me here. The ordinary becomes extraordinary: normally these trains are banal commuter ferries.

Download 2000 pixel version.

Girl Sleeping, Night Train Continues »

Impulstanz 2012: Franz West Tribute

August 6th, 2012 § 0

Franz West died July 25. West was a conceptual artist who collaborated often with the dance creators at ImPulsTanz. Karl Regensburger moved quickly to put together a tribute by many of the dance makers who had worked with West or were influenced by his work last night.

Franz West by Ludwig Koeln
Franz West by Ludwig Koeln

Moderator and hands on organiser Jennifer Lacey did her best to keep the program on track but at two hours without a formal break and some real trouble moving the performers on and off, momentum was uneven. Had Lacey known how many pauses there would be, she could have passed on the introduction and done that in forced breaks. She told one joke which made me laugh while waiting what seemed like half an hour for Philip Gehmacher to get out of the back and onto the stage. Gehmacher’s equipment in the end was moved out onto the stage by force by Intendant Regensburger himself.

“As dancers we learn young to come on time or ahead of time and to be ready. Visual artists don’t ever seem to get this message – they are almost always late and badly organised – so collaborating with them is always an adventure for us.”

To open there was a beat poetry reading in the upper foyer of Kasino. Then the doors opened and a blonde transvestite in the most amazing electric blue platform heels pranced out.

Impulstanz 2012: Franz West Tribute Continues »

ImPulsTanz Lounge 2012 Photos: A Saturday night

July 29th, 2012 § 0

ImpulstTanz lounge Saturday night
ImpulstTanz lounge Saturday night

The Burgtheater Vestibule is a great place for a nightly outdoor party.  When the weather is good, a large part of the party can be outside.

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ImPulsTanz Lounge 2012 Photos: A Saturday night Continues »

Legris’ Masterworks of the 20th Century at Vienna Staatsoper: Serge Lifar, Nils Christie, Roland Petit

February 17th, 2012 § 1

Rarely has the stage of the Staatsoper appeared so impressive. The curtain opens to reveal on three levels, a full complement of dozens of dancers, the women in gleaming white tutus, the men in black leggings and handsome white shirts. First impressions are often misleading. So it is with Serge Lifar’s Suite en Blanc.

The audience collectively takes a breath, expecting the full stage to explode in dance. No dice. All but two dancers slowly slink off to the wings. Over the course of the next half hour deserted stage is gradually built back up to full, but never does Suite en Blanc manage to equal the thunder of its opening salvo.

Quickly Suite en Blanc turns into a battle of the ballerinas, the ballerinas parade out one by one to show their dressage qualities.

Highly rated Ludmila Konovalova has finally found some costume designers who understand her figure and for once her kit doesn’t make her powerful body look like a female hockey player. She acquits herself well with Alexis Forabosco and Shane A. Wuerthner providing steady support.

Legris' Masterworks of the 20th Century at Vienna Staatsoper: Serge Lifar, Nils Christie, Roland Petit Continues »