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The opening of the Ballet Festival Week by Bayerisches Staatsballett

At the weekend Sabine was lucky to attend the Triple Bill performances which opened the Ballet Festival Week in Munich. Here are some impressions:

The 3 pieces complimented each other. David Dawson's "Affairs of the heart" is an essence of " l'art pour l'art" . “Pictures at an exhibition" by Alexey Ratmansky showed a colorful interpretation of life, with a strong political reference, and Marco Goecke's "Sweet bones melody" had a more subtle, very touching message about the need for peace.

"Affairs of the heart" by David Dawson (world premiere on Saturday, 26 March)

The beautiful and haunting music by Marjan Mozetich served the breathtaking beauty of the choreography in perfection, and vice versa. Stage setting was just a wall with geometric forms and changing colors from yellow, pink, blue to grey. All dancers were dressed in light-blue/grey leotards (with long legs for the men).

Four couples, three female and two male soloists presented this new creation. The program book contains insightful interviews with Dawson and dancers Shale Wagman, Carollina Bastos and Emilio Pavan about the process of creating this piece, that is a wonderful addition to the performance.

I felt indeed the heart all dancers put into this piece. They danced it with so much grace, elegance and deep dedication. Shale Wagman was a kind of a virtuous and elegant cupid, inspiring and spreading love across the stage and between the couples. He had two solos alone onstage as well. His fluidity in dancing and excellent classical technique, e.g. long manege jumps, illuminated the stage.

"Pictures at an exhibition" by Alexey Ratmansky (created in 2014 for NYC ballet)

Music: M. Mussorgski, piano: D. Mayboroda

Stage setting was also interpreted just as a wall with video projections of partial Kandinsky paintings. The costumes complimented these projections, for the ladies with featherlight transparent dresses with color patterns, their male partners in sleeveless shirts and long pants with matching colors . A highlight was seeing Amar Ramasar, a former dancer of NYC ballet. He was only meant to coach in this production but ended up onstage as replacement for Osiel Gouneo who was ill. Prisca Zeisel, the principal, danced the solo parts but was obviously already injured (although I noticed it only at curtain call). For the second night, Rebecca Horner from Wiener Staatsballett jumped in for her, which was another blessing to see her very strong, mischievous solo.

There are also some choreographic nods to Ballets Russes.

My favorite part was the Pas de deux danced by Jinhao Zhang and Kristina Lind (who replaced Madison Young, she is injured). They performed it very tender, light and lyrical.

In the very end, the Ukrainian flag was projected on stage wall, as the final picture.

"Sweet bones' melody" by Marco Goecke (world premiere on Saturday, 26 March)

The feeling of Marco Goecke's pieces is always emotional. It's certainly an "either you love it, or you hate it" stuff he creates. Here, we had a dark foggy stage, dark confetti (like ashes) falling from the "sky", dark long wide trousers and dark top with glitter as costumes.

I wonder why none of the dancers stumbled because the trousers were far too long.

Top solo were danced by Jonah Cook and Shale Wagman again. There was something from ice skating in his Wagman´s solo: many whirlwind turns across the stage executed with such a speed and precision, it was unbelievable.

Altogether, I applause all dancers who trip, run, bend, cramp etc. in hasty Goecke moves. It's a marathon, but the dancers love his pieces. Well, me too but I sit and just watch.

The magic moment was when all dancers came on stage, standing heads down immobilized, and from the off, Florian Sollfrank's voice whispered a poem by Else Lasker-Schueler, "Weltenende". It could have been the end of the piece, but it wasn't.

The piece went on then a bit more, and in the end, António Casalinho emerged from the dark back with a white dove in his hands. For premiere night, the bird even flapped the wings a bit but was attached to the dancer’s hand by a string, so it could not escape. It was the final scene, a far more subtle but very moving.

I can say it’s a wonderful new triple bill for Bayerisches Staatsballett, if you can, go and watch it. The company is in top form (minus the poor injured ones) and have a great week ahead.

Text: Sabine Proll

Photos and video: Bayerisches Staatsballett

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