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"Meine Seele hört im Sehen" - Première: Oper Graz, Oct.13th, 2017

"Meine Seele hört im Sehen" - Première: Oper Graz, Oct.13th, 2017

„Meine Seele hört im Sehen“

(freely translated  as „My Soul listens by watching“) – Première Oper Graz Oct.13th, 2017

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Coincidences don’t exist, some people say… Some weeks ago, great ballet personality that taught me a lot about baroque dance, Mrs. Eva Campianu, would have turned 90 years old. Reflecting a lot about her life and career I instinctively began to listen to baroque music (mostly Händel & Purcell, I must admit) for some days… as if listening to the music would bring me closer to her, as if inverting the title of Händel’s piece “My Soul watches by listening”. Coincidence or not, those days of listening closely to baroque pieces, prepared me (and my mood) in a sort of way for this most interesting evening at the Opera in Graz!

 Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

With great joy I could observe in Jörg Weinöhl’s choreography this “feeling” for the baroque – using a beautiful contemporary language that has nothing to do with forms and aspects of the baroque dance itself. This is something not easy to do but from the first until the last moment of the piece Mr. Weinöhl maintained a complete fidelity to his own language and style while the audience’s soul kept “listening by watching”. Something that became quite rare those days: this combination of sensibility, simplicity and inventiveness.

 Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

Very clever was his use of the repetitiveness that you can listen though nearly all compositions of the Baroque: slight changes in the choreography were used, while parts of the music were being repeated, but keeping the basic form, “the body” of it - like "looking at a statue from three different angles - as someone once said about Satie's Gymnopedies: very structured choreography like the music, the architecture, the gardens and even the hairstyles of the period . The balance, in fact, the equilibrium of perspectives, notes, sounds and thoughts of this age is always there perfectly mirrored in the dancers’ movements.

 Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

I cannot say for how long the dancers have been working together but they present themselves as a unit. They are completely in unison making this work of art alive. One cannot leave unmentioned the fact that they are extremely very well-rehearsed. On the other hand, one must admit that the wonderful music is rhythmically not a challenge, enabling the dancers to concentrate more on the cleanliness of the movements and of the presentation itself. I cannot this time mention this or that dancer, they are for me a unit – a great group that showed to the audience that they were enjoying what they were doing! And what a good reading they gave of this particular contemporary language...

 Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

If you are looking either for “Bravura” and "technical displays" or a story line in this piece, one you will not find it but if one is looking for the crystal clear delicacy of the baroque soul, one will definitely find it here. In a pure and simple dance language. Dance for the sake of dance. I like that. The human body can tell so many stories, describe so many feelings – but in its own language. Not in a “theatrical way” (like many choreographers tend to). That is why Mr. Weinöhl’s work fascinated me. This is dance, like dance, in my humble opinion, should be.

 Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

The whole evening was beautifully “framed” by the clever use of the set, with its symmetry  and great costumes, both by Saskia Rettig, although I must say that some dresses were a little unflattering to some dancers, especially the ones used by Clara Pascual Martí and by the lovely Kana Imagawa, that at some point looked more like a typist with her long sleeves.

 Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

The “space” itself (the placement of the audience “on stage”) was, for me, one extra “icing on the cake”, giving the evening a more “intimate” touch – although this can be sometimes quite difficult for the dancers, I mean being just a few centimeters away from the first row of spectators!

 Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

Also within this “frame” we cannot leave unmentioned the four singers Martin Fournier, Ivan Orescanin, Lalit Woranthepnitinan and Yuang Zhang as well as the conductor, Robin Engelen, travelling with us through 22 different pieces of music, each and every of them a whole “world” of musicality, stories and feelings.

 Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

Copyright: Laurent Ziegler

An evening to recommend!

P.S. Just on the next day, while doing some shopping at Graz’s “Mercato contadino”, I overheard two lovely elderly Ladies commenting on the evening – they could not have been more excited about it and words like “perfect” and “a dream” were “dropped” and often used in their conversation...

Ricardo Leitner

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James Whiteside (ABT): photographed by Nisan Hughes and Marcus Morris

James Whiteside (ABT): photographed by Nisan Hughes and Marcus Morris

Just for the record...

Just for the record...