Fairy Tale's World ("Märchenwelt") revisited: Dec. 14th, 2018, Vienna State Ballet, Volksoper
It is always a joy to be in a theatre that is filled with children and their beautiful and honest response to what is going on stage. It makes me think of „Neverland“ and Peter Pan's first performance on stage as James Matthew Barrie kept some 30 seats empty, to give them to children from nearby orphanages. Yes, their reaction contributed so much to the evening, their spontaneous laughter and comments brought out the right „frame“ to the play... A very similar thing happened last Friday...
And it was a beautiful (and very recommended) evening for the children.
I was quite „proud“ by the fact that the three main roles were being danced by three Brazilian dancers (yes, I grew up in Brazil and I could not help feeling quite proud): Felipe Vieira as the ugly duckling and Alexander Kaden and Tainá Ferreira Luiz as Aladin and the princess Badroulbadour - „full moon of full moons“ (in German Princess Budur !?!?!).
As I have written some years ago, I consider this version of „The Ugly Ducking“ more a kind of pantomime for the Christmas Season. Not a ballet. Funnily enough, the children in the audience once more did not respond quite so open to it – as they did to „1001 Nights“. Perhaps because of a certain „sophistication“ on Mr Kaydanovskiy's mise-en-scène (Mind you, not having seen this piece in some years, even I had trouble recognizing the „group“ of Swans for the first time! ).
The use of Mussorgsky's „Pictures at an Exhibition“, even though thematically not related at all to this fairy-tale, is an intelligent one.
The dancers are good but there should be, especially because we are talking of a pantomime, more concern and care about the dramaturgy – for the sake of the children's phantasy and perception. Sometimes I was not „convinced“ at all by what the dancers/actors were doing and felt as if I was back at the theatre school „Tablado“ at which Maria Clara Machado (a Brazilian children's playwriter) prepared amateurs to go stage. Somehow I am still „under the influence“ of Mr László Benedek'sportrayal, when I first watched this show, because of his very gifted dramaturgical gifts and competence.
Felipe Vieira, nearly unrecognizable (because of the blond wig) did a very correct job as „the Ugly Duckling“. We know that this particular dancer can do much more when given a more substantial choreography (Think of his „Faun“ with Tainá Ferreira Luiz some seasons ago) but Mr Kaydanovskiy's vocabulary was somehow still very restricted at the time in which this piece was produced (5 or 6 years ago!). A fact of life – a young choreographer is growing up every day, acquiring more vocabulary, experience and know-how – as Mr Kaydanovskiy has been allegedly proving.
Vesna Orlic's „1001 Nights“ has two different sides: somehow its sense of aesthetic is one that is not quite adequate anymore and reminds me of Eastern Bloc TV shows from the '80s and I am not talking only about sets and costumes but also about (to give a concrete example) the fight scenes – Knife and all – that are obviously based on „Spartacus“! That is one side. The other one is that it has the quality of capturing the children's attention (and reactions) completely !
And this becomes part of the show – how lovely when the children are interacting with the actor that is playing „The good soul“ (wonderful Boris Eder, by the way, in the best interpretation of this role – that I have ever seen. It is not an easy task to stimulate children in order to react verbally to what it's being told on stage!)
Thomas Mayerhofer (with whom I have shared the stage at The Volksopera during his and Kurt Fuckenrieder's first performance ever – in the Corps de Ballet of Lehár's „Der Zarewitsch“) gave a beautiful and strong portrayal of the Sultan. Great Samuel Colombet , as always impressive, is a great Wesir. An extremely expressive dancer.
But the evening's Highlight was Alexander Kaden's and Tainá Ferreira Luiz's performance as Aladin and „Budur“. They surely add more reasons to the list when deciding to buy a ticket for this performance!
Mr Kaden's definitely found the role and transformed it into a dance piece, getting far away from a sort of a cliché „superhero“ performance. . It is quite a task to transform this role into an interesting dance role… One must also mention his physique and his technical abilities: Jumps that are quite impressive – especially one (or two?) very precise jetés en-tournant that impressed me. Also impressed was I by the way that he turned this role into someone „believable and lovable“ not in the sort of way it had been interpreted until now, like a „superhero“ compared to Superman and National Kid!
Tainá Ferreira-Luiz: a beautiful princess, strong and at the same time fragile in her performance, that showed her pin-pointed technique to extremes. She is at the same ease while on her toes as doing the dramatic scenes. A gifted dancer with that certain charisma that embraces the audience. She posesses two gifts that are very rare - apart from the things you have to be born with and “be able to pick up” during your career, she has two very rare qualities: Musicality and sense of timing…
Two seats away from me there were two young girls that were more than dazzled by this dancer's interpretation. Even though so young they were screaming and clapping their hands when Miss Luiz came on stage to take her bows.
Yes, that is what the limelight is made of: these moments in which dreams, reality and illusions become one.
Once more I am very grateful to have witnessed a lovely evening – choreographic and style flaws and all – that made me once more believe in the magic of the stage!
The princess and Aladdin “win at last” and when tey were getting married, they kept reminding me of something that I had just read: “Don’t let anyone’s ignorance, hate, drama or negativity stop you from being the best person you can be!” A lesson that I, privately, practised just after the performance! Inspiration?
A very recommendable evening.
Next performances: Dec. 17th, 21st; Jan. 3rd, 14th and 20th 201