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Petrouschka / Movements to Stravinsky / The Firebird - Sep. 13th, 2017

Petrouschka / Movements to Stravinsky / The Firebird - Sep. 13th, 2017

Petrouschka / Movements to Stravinsky / The Firebird – Sep. 13th, 2017 (Volksoper Vienna)

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It is a difficult task to write about three such different pieces. Even though they are united by the fact that all three display Stravinky’s music – this is not homogeneous: you cannot compare “Petrouschka” (perhaps my favourite beside “Sacre”) to which Taruskin said “Stravinsky at last turned Stravinsky”) with lovely “Pulcinella” (1908) and “Apollon Musagète” (1928) with “The Firebird” (1911). Not comparable, although audiences tend to “put it all in the same basket” – and this also applies to the three works by three young choreographers. Not homogeneous.

I must say that I has great difficulty at the beginning of “Petrouscha” and “The Firebird” to adjust myself and liberate myself from the “elder” versions… the most by “The Firebird” because Mr. B’s version of it was my first major ballet experience as a child – while watching Gelsey Kirkland… But that is another story!

There are no “favourites” like in a competition (that is why I mostly never comment about Galas or Young Chroreographer’s evenings!), but since we have watched yesterday three works by three professional choreographers, I will break a rule (Well, rules are made to be broken, at least mine are, by me!)

 Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Eno Peçis “Petrouschka” has a strong social competence due to his attention to a micro cosmos, a school, when compared to the whole world. I like very much the use of a school as a metaphore, and different races, religions, backgrounds – you see there’s no “good or bad”, there only exists people who are trying to “survive” in a (sometimes new) environment. Aggression, prejudice, bullying, differences are part of the story – one that we are living though at present times. I salute very much this social analyse and, to be very honest, I do not recall having ever seen a ballet with this social preoccupation. Theatre plays yes, Ballet no… Congratulations, Eno Peçi, for this effort!

 Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor 

Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor 

Jakob Feyferlik gave us a beautiful portrayal of this tortured teacher – we all know Mr. Feyferliks’s flawless technique and that is why it is so important to say that his portrayal – from the balanced teacher until his tragic finale - is a piece of art. One that must be very tiring for the artist. Looking forward to continuing to follow his career in the next years - I wonder how he will grow as an artist.

 Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Rebecca Horner gave a brilliant reading of the school director and nearly scared me. Some would say “the bad woman” but as I have said: there are no good or bad people in this piece. It is not about Aurora and Carabosse but about real people with their own motives to act that way… And we must understand reasons to be able to "judge" motives. She reminded me all the time of a feral, dangerous reptile. Yes, her movements, the way she walked (slow, sensual and very threatening) reminded me of a snake. A dangerous one. The only thing in the production that was not quite OK was her costume. Even though Pavol Jurás costumes and sets are very good, Miss Horner’s costume shortened too much her legs and the neckline of her top, when combined to her wig, reminded me of Jane Jetson’s TV costume (for those who do not remember “The Jetsons” was a TV series from Hannah-Barbera). Search for that on internet!

Beautiful performance by the corps-de-ballet to which I would like to highlight the works of Suzann Opperman, Alaia Rogers-Maman, Céline Janou Weder, Marian Furnica and James Stephens.

A funny moment: the whole class playing with tablets until they find something quite “strange”: a book! But... will audiences still laugh about that in the future?

A well-succeeded piece that left me sort of thoughtful after it was finished. I could nearly say that this was the intention. More awareness to problems that are also happening “in our little world”: Austria.

 Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

 

Mr. András Lukács “Movements to Stravinsky” is a joy. Pure joy. Poetry to lovely music.

All six pairs very well rehearsed, precisely together, in perfect unison technically and emotionally either as a pair or also as a group altogether. The casting is simply perfect as each one of the dancers possess a profound technique and a special, unique stage presence. They are not the least alike but this “mélange” on stage was extremely well succeeded. Mr. Lukács sense for casting is also to be applauded.

 Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

This work has a certain quality that could be only described for me this way: when you look quite intensely at a piece of good china, you realize how fragile and fine it is. That is the way I felt about this most enchanting work.

I could not “highlight” any of the dancers; neither together nor individually: Breaking again a rule all mine, I will just mention all her names:

1st Pair: Alice Firenze – Masayu Kimoto

2nd Pair: Nikisha fogo – Richard Szabó

3rd Pair: Ioanna Avraam – James Stephens

4th Pair: Oxana Kiyaneko – Igor Milos

5h Pair: Sveva Gargiulo – Arne Vandervelde

6th Pair: Céline Janou Weder – Géraud Wielick

 Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

One observation: such a delight to witness Miss Firenze again on stage as an ethereal, fragile creature of dreams. During the last seasons she has been often cast as a Gypsie, a temptress, always like a loud, explosive firework. This most “doux” of dancers is extremely versatile – and she can it all.

 Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Andrey Kaydanovsky’s “The Firebird” gave also a new reading of this most intense music! Having been composed as second Ballet for “Les Ballets Russes” (Diaghileff) it was made just after “Petroushka” – exactly in the phase, like said before, in which “Stravinsky at last turned     Stravinsky”.

 Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

 

After having read about it just after last season’s Première I was feeling at unease because of the “theme”. Yes, our culture of consumption glorifies compulsive shopping...

I thought: “Oh dear,  not again...  how many times have I already seen this? (starting with Antonioni’s 1970 work: Zabriskie Point and The Who's "Tommy" from 1975). In fact, not a new idea at all!

But I am not one to judge anything before watching it.

The results of Mr. Kaydanovyky’s work are quite appreciable. Perhaps he had the biggest problem, as a choreographer, with the music (It is not an easy task to count Stravinsky’s music, let alone choreograph it) but he used beautiful scene solutions (like the article’s boxes at the end of the piece) to hide things and came away very well with it.

The dramaturgy plays a strong role in this piece which mixes consumption in a degenerated excess with “greed”. Yes – the way Ivan is changed by power – and how he behaves to the bird and to his blind Vasilissa. 

The costumes are extremely clever: I felt again like in a supermarket line in Moscow watching those uniforms… And I thought: how would russians react watching this piece? I wonder how the reception would be in Russia...

 Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Masayu Kimoto (stage presence on the purest sense of the world), Gala Jovanovic (sensibility and expressivity combined perfectly in a beautiful, touching performance) and Géraud Wielick (having his prèmiere in this part and showing a great understanding to this “bird”) did a great job.

 Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Copyright: Vienna State Ballet / Ashley Taylor

Mihail Sosnosvschi nearly stole the show again with his intense Portrayal of Koschey. Incredible how this dancer is in such a great shape! 

The rest of the cast gave wonderful displays of workers (Scott McKenzie, Dumitru Taran, Arne Vandervele), cleaning ladies (Ioanna Avraam, Sveva Gargiulo, Richard Szabó, Andrey Teterin) as well as all princesses, clients and – amazingly enough – the Hot-Dog! They seemed to be enjoying their parts, extremely!

David Levi’s conducting had Firecrackers in the air…

Alltogether: a most interesting and special evening…

My only thought: this is a programme for our present times. I would not dare to say how it will work for audiences in 20 years. I guess that this “Petrouchka” and this “The Firebird” will become sort of dated with time. The themes are (I hope) not eternal altough still extremely actual… I only see “Movements” as a piece that can last forever. It can never be dated.

P.S. My deepest Thanks to Mr. Gerald Stocker / Vienna State Ballet - Communication, for sending me these wonderful pictures which were made yesterday by tallented Mr. Ashley Taylor.

Ricardo Leitner

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