Balanchine - Neumeier - Robbins revisited: Vienna State Ballet, April 16th, 2018
Just a few weeks ago I wrote a review about the above mentioned piece. That is the reason why I will not go this time into the choreographic, historical, musical aspects of the programme. Let us simply “talk” about yesterday’s cast.
Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto – as a member of the “frequent” audience I must say that we (in Vienna) have been somehow spoiled during the last years and got used to a certain implicitness that we “will have again a beautiful performance tonight”. But to be very honest what else can one expect from such professionals and experienced dancers like Ketevan Papava, Liudmila Konovalova, Eno Peçi and Mihail Sosnovschi? Performers whose Artistry sets quite a difficult scale and high standard of their work for others to follow. I must just say that I am positively shocked during intermissions to hear such superficial and frivolous comments about dance and Art from so-called “Connoisseurs” that are also “frequent members” of the audience! If they could only give their tickets to aspiring young dancers and/or other people that love (and understand) Ballet… what an investment that would be for the World of Art… But that is just a dream!
Theme and Variations – just think of Margo Channing’s (“All about Eve”) 1950 words: “there was fire and music in the air” – yes, that was exactly it, literally more than correct. Miss Nikisha Fogo (“fire” in Spanish/Portuguese) was going to give her debùt in this most tricky, quick, exhausting and complicated – but wonderfully staged - of Mr. B’s pieces… From the very first moment she went on stage she simply caught the attention of the public in such a way that one could not take the eyes away from her. Electricity – not only fire. Extreme precision, musicality, beautiful “quick leg work” and calmness at the same time (As if the upper part of her body would be a weeping-willow and her legs a “Singer sewing machine”). An amazing, catchy performance. I am glad that I could witness it. Having followed Miss Fogo’s career since her arrival in Vienna to join the Corps de Ballet, I am extremely moved for being able to follow her development as a dancer. I could not resist but stand up and shout some “Bravos” during bows.
Denys Cherevychko, that I had never seen in this role, gave not only a beautiful performance of his own but was an enormous harmonious extension to Miss Fogo’s Bravura as a partner. Sometimes I wonder how everything seems “so easy” to Mr. Cherevychko (for example the dreaded, never-ending combination of pirouettes and Tours-en-l’air). And there we go again. For the “frequent travellers in the audience” everything is so obviously “normal”. It is NOT! Such performances are involved with such hard work, insecurities, fears, real Angst, tears, pain, dreams… It is not “obvious” to watch such performances.
I will not (as in Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto) mention all the members of the Corps de Ballet. I have mentioned tjem three weeks ago. Good work! I was just a bit unimpressed by Mr. Francesco Costa’s sort of aloof performance. I expect more from such a talented, promising dancer.
To Bach Suite # III there is less to say – there were nearly no cast changes (or none at all if I am not mistaken) in comparison to the last performance I had seen. But... so many parts of the choreography seem to be so outdated: I repeat that I still think that the Grand-plié in the first position (and facing the audience) is a complete useless “necessity”. It just seems to make the dancers nervous – and yesterday Miss Yakovleva had some trouble keeping her balance. I never understood why one should “freeze” a work of Art forever and never think it over nor rework on it...
Audience’s favourite piece of the evening: The Concert.
Yesterday’s performance was filled with surprises, new “readings” of roles and some members of the cast which I had never seen before in some specific roles.
Miss Céline Janou Weder nearly stole the show with her extremely witty, histerical, clever reading of "the angry lady". Durung the pas de sux (Valse E-minor no.14) she really did steal the show! Such a gifted dancer - such timing... pure joy!
Gala Jovanovic will “ripe” in this (also very tricky) role of “The Wife”. She is not only a good but also a very intelligent dancer. Trevor Hayden was surprisingly funny and endearing.
Great Eno Peçi (yes, “THE HUSBAND” forever – perfect casting) and Irina Tsymbal as the “Ballerina”.
It had been quite a few years since I had last seen her in this role and her interpretation yesterday was once more a sort of “disclosure” for me. She does not give a phony imitation of a dancer trying to be funny – No. She is “simply” a beautiful grown-up woman (I mean this artistically) giving her interpretation lots of (Ziegfeld) Follies, glamour, classic beauty, Lucille Ball humour (“I love Lucy”, does anyone remember that?), fun and joy. Definitely not an “imitation” of a comic character. There is nothing worse than performers playing a funny part “thinking” that they are funny and laughing at themselves. Rule number one for comedy (I think Chaplin said that once): NEVER EVER think that you are funny!
Miss Tsymbal understands this perfectly. Beauty, interpretation, timing… they were there even after the show had finished and she was taking her bows. It is a joy for the audiences that this beautiful Artist is “back” after her baby break!
And at last a comment that is long “due”: I had the pleasure of sitting in the second row, more or less just behind the conductor. Wonderful Mr. Kevin Rhodes. I could (again) pay extremely attention to his “contact” with the dancers on stage. They were in unison: dance, dramaturgy, music. How beautiful to witness such moments in which “everything comes together”. Bravo, Maestro!