Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mindshaking or Mindblowing - good question!

Tuesdays are in a way special, after starting off the week smoothly after the weekend, this day often inhibits surprising changes in life. So also yesterday when attending a public meeting where Rector Prof. Hans Müller-Steinhagen gave notice about the actual stand of DRESDENconcept and what its benefits for students may be. Despite the fact the second largest hall at HSZ (Fritz-Förster-Platz) probably roughly 500-600 only 50 students and myself found their way - what has not reached the public mind?

Quite similar patterns happen when looking at the Semperoper, and especially its ballet ensemble Semperoper Ballett - when I talk to people (not the ones who are already opera enthusiastic one) I often get the answer, "Too expensive. I don't get a ticket. Old fashioned. I need expensive and exclusive clothing to get in. What does it give me?"

Do these believes still hold true as many of the non-attending students in the afternoon at TU Dresden may have thought things are still the same as they used to be?

Anyway, I again took the chance to go for last minute tickets (luckily I live nearby so a 5-minute-walk is not a big deal, even if I would not get a ticket). Yesterday "3 Colors Green" (for the Twitter fans there is the hashtag #3ColorsGreen or more general #Semperoper) with its second performance  - and as always, I am in :-).

A ballet evening with three quite different pieces by Georges Balanchine, Mats Ek, and William Forsythe was on the program. This time and a more general audience, quite different to the première audience, yet as the evening should show as enthusiastic and ballet loving.

This time I focus on the larger picture and won't go into details on specific dancers - this will follow in my third review (after the Friday performance); I have written a short review directly after the première on Friday, 20th of May in Facebook.

Copyright: Costin Radu
First piece - George Balanchine's "Smaragde" - very traditional - customers with lots of sparkling stones - lovely semi-transparent stage space cover with over-sized smaragdes

It was like the crowd tuned in and followed the show, connected in mind with the known ballet pieces they had probably seen in the past. The break then offered some clarification by friends I met, "It's nothing special. Pretty slow. Looking forward to the next piece."

What was going on? They had seen a piece which connected pretty much with what they had known from the past. Nothing new they were emotionally shaken or didn't understand otherwise. So it was in way a "downloading" into old and known pattern of thinking/ seeing.

Copyright: Costin Radu
Second piece - Mats Ek's "She was black | Sie war schwarz" - the stage layout had been changed - pretty normal looking clothes - "strange" moves of the first two dancers on stage - music from loudspeakers - no time to applaud - subtile signs that triggered thinking, questions

... while the audience kept quite over the whole course of the performance, this energy flowed towards the dancers in massive applause, whistles, and "Bravo" shouting (I didn't count the rise and fall of the curtain, but more than three (!) times I'd say). This was mind-shaking, as the unexpected moves and figures of the dancers definitely opened up people's minds (unintentionally probably more than they felt). 

The "provoking moment" of arts was right then and there!

Copyright: Costin Radu
Third piece - William Forsythe's "Artifact Suite - Neufassung" - modern costumes - minimalistic layout on stage - mainly driven by light installation - geometric patterns - cutting off view by closing the curtain several times (and rearrange the setting of dancers on stage) - almost the complete ballet company on stage

After the mind-shaking middle-piece this again brought the mind again into steady and stabile flow - and still the thoughts were moving sort of "turbo-charged" - an interesting feeling. 

What can be learned by this evening and perhaps a proposal for future ballet goers who really want to take something out of the evening (lasting longer than the performance itself)?

  1. Take the unexpected (even though you don't know what is coming) - Semperoper stands for high quality, a go is never a loss
  2. Take friends with you or actively seek for them when strolling around the hallways in the breaks (conversations always clarifies some personal views or misunderstandings, and it gives a variety of other views of what the pieces may remind other persons of)
  3. If you are working class (with a regular job) try to take off a half-day the following day in order to bring the built up emotional energy into output (either personal things or projects you are sort of stuck at work)
For the students which I mentioned in the beginning the above would flow into the following:
  • take the chance to learn about unknown things (where no grades are behind (!))
  • dare to run for evening ticket booth (write on Twitter with hashtag #Semperoper  - in order to meet other folks, either students or visitors)
  • go through a phase where you feel uneasy and emotions almost taking over (but you can't leave in the middle of the piece); the outcome may be more positively outcoming than you ever expected.
... did I grab your interest to learn more about what ballet is capable of?
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