Sunday, February 20, 2011

Open up to Think New

Yesterday night another opportunity to learn more about what ballet is all about. This time not in the Albertinum as at the amazing "The Inner Voice" performance or the lately on stage "Coppélia".

Photo: Ian Whalen
Premiere of Young Choreographers - younger members of the Semperoper Ballet experimenting with their choreographic ambitions

Shortly before the event the following hit the Twittersphere - fans coming from all over town, despite the demonstrations yesterday taking place in the city. Short tweeting with one of the members of the Ballet (Thanks Ian for the quick response), whether there would be some chances to pick her up  - from Löbtau. Bad luck in the first place, but ballet lovers would be ballet lovers not finding a creative way to sneak through obstacles and harsh times. I had known Anne only via Twitter (actually via a strange connection stemming from the Open Day at Semperoper, while watching the ballet training that day, a tweet from Valda Wilson, who was a bit late at that day came in, Valda already exchanged via Twitter thoughts with Anne, and so we got connected behind the scenes) - till yesterday shortly before 6pm. That's the power of Twitter in the scenes behind, in a way preparing the ground to meet in reality - at the opera! 

FULL HOUSE!!! - in the audience Dr. Ulrike Hessler, Aaron Watkin, and a whole lot of fans and ballet fans looking forward to what would await us. A small glimpse of what would expect us tonight curious Semperoper Ballet fans could get on the Web, video clip on YouTube of the training session for this performance) and (pictures of rehearsal). This room is just awesome - after "Dido and Aeneas" (roughly no stuff on stage), and "Der Gestiefelte Kater" (almost as packed as "Rusalka"), this time again quite different setting.

Now the packed room is catching me again. It always reminds me of large living room - some cosy atmosphere is instantly installed, just by the closeness between the audience and the artists on stage.

Photo: Matthias Creutziger
As the audience couldn't know what to expect, it was excellent to hear cello sounds at the first piece "Jatamansi" by Hiroko Asami. This in some way made it easy to tune in with something rather familiar (which changed shortly after). It was a rather soft piece, which some people probably let think, "Is that it?" 

Not quite so - this would not be Semperoper Ballett not to surprise!

... and so the game went on. Short change on stage, and off we go into the second round with "be ... ing" by Duosi Zhu & Raquel Martinez (who danced the main part at "The Inner Voice" at Albertinum, Exploring not so much the "inner game" yet rather the inner being of human beings - with (still) a rather small staff on stage. Jón Vallejo (who has just played Franz at "Coppélia" last Wednesday - review still on the move and to come ;-)) putting soap bubbles (blue and green(!)) into the black room - this opened up thinking of myself as mind was thinking, "Hm, what is that meant to mean?"

Existiert die Zeit? Late ... Lost ... Living ... another "Coppélia" protagonist, Anna Merkulova, as choreographer and active dancer in her piece. Seems like what is happening on the Semperoper stage is condensing here in this smaller room, which actually can house an audience up to 200 people with ease. The performance, wonderfully set in light and motion (especially Anna's hair sometimes reminded me of a stroboscope pictures, when it was flowing through the air), probably drove some minds "crazy" as one couldn't follow everything that could be seen on stage. Isn't that so with the Web and all this zillions of tools and networks? Where to look, participate, and engage? In the end we all live in the moment and take what is relevant and personal for us. There is always a chance to see and learn new, it only has to fit our own personality.

As this must have been the tuning in process for the audience (intended? who knows?), the next piece "The power of thought" by Claudio Cangialosi rocked whole Semper2. A powerful performance, expression, music, and light pulling at the emotions as fast as rocket science made one felt beamed up to Festspielhaus Hellerau, where I would expect such performances (perhaps that's even planned to do).

As it couldn't be better, the "Rocking Chair" to finish this potpourri of ballet by Michael Tucker, and danced by Hiroko Asami, enabled the slowing down of the mind and collecting all what was seen in the past 60 (!) minutes. 

The applause was intense and one could hear and sense that these great artists, even though they stand at the beginning of their career have their fans already here in Dresden - and the crowd is growing. I personally felt like in one of the jazz concerts in the "Tonne" back in 1997, where I attended a dozens of performances only to see what immense power can reside in human beings.

As this performance yesterday has been a major milestone in the development of the Semperoper Ballet Ensemble, Dr. Ulrike Hessler and Aaron Watkin thanked the dancers and choreographers for their terrific work which is just a first fruit of small moves over the last couple of years.

Four questions at the end:
  • Good: an amazing and diverse presentation of ballet and dance styles in a short time, meeting Anne (@av188) another Semperoper fan, personal thanking of Dr. Ulrike Hessler and Aaron Watkin to the team, excellent work behind the scenes (lighting, music, and what else is necessary and one often don't see as audience), excellent postcards with some background (a perfect small present and appetizer for more) with pictures by Ian Whalen. 
  • Tricky: the quick and condensed changes of the performances was a real challenge - life is a challenge, isn't it? The big head light at "The power of thought" was shining too bright into the audience (some cloth in front may ease this - sure there are already ideas to overcome that).
  • Learned: Let go and watch, listen, and let your mind think for you.
  • Action: Always see performances twice or at least have somebody with you to talk about it, best of course ask the makers (which I missed this time)

.... looking forward to seeing more of this, Ralf

PS.: On Facebook you find this review as well.

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