They dance. They can express laughter but also pain using only their dancing skills. And they do both without getting tired of showing their individual characters even though they are playing a role. This is quite unique in the ballet world. This company is fascinating. And the ballerinas and ballerinos from Staatsballett Berlin (SBB) have also learned how to be sensitive. Maybe this is the secret of their success: They don’t force you to come to the show, and they don’t push it too mucch. This company can wait and work and see. And you feel like you are being embraced with open arms when you see them dancing. Like in „Duato / Kylián / Naharin“, the last premiere program, that shows three masterpieces of three very different choreographers. SBB herein is an example for best harmony and best power, even in very modern pieces. The themes can be dark and dusty, creepy and horrible. And you will like it. It’s just like Nacho Duato, Ballettintendant of SBB, says: „Ballet can not only have princes and princesses. Ballet must also talk about problems.“ If the dancers can.
And they do! At first sight the first subject of the evening seems to belong to the last and forelast centuries. But indeed it deals with real problems and is an allegory about typical human conflicts. We can „read“ and feel it like a commentary to contemporary life. „Castrati“, so the title, is an ingenious piece made by Nacho Duato. It’s is about the poor singer boys that were castrated from 16th to 19th century only to be able to sing like a lad in their adult age.
Wei Wang is the first cast in the main part, and this Chinese dancer who was named the best Chinese young dancer in 2010 is a sublime creature with a lot of boyish talent. He suffers in his role foreseeing his castration. The other men on stage belong to this dark fraternity of castrated men (that are all artists, all singers) that won’t give up making new young men to parts of their group.
SBB-dancers Arshak Ghalumyan and Alexej Orlenco, Kévin Pouzou and Marian Walter and also Mehmet Yümak and Taras Bilenko, Arman Grigoryan and especially Olaf Kollmannsperger show how clear and beautiful but also cruel and manly these ways of initiation can be.
In Pas de deux and Pas de trois, in small groups as well as in the whole group, they fulfill the lifestyle of people that had to sacrifice their own sexual identity.
Nowadays of course people don’t get castrated when they want to have a career. But from time to time everybody feels the load of renouncement. That one has to neglect important parts of one’s inner life only to be successful or even established. And then of course in few parts of the world like in Africa or Asia (and also in medical institutions in the Western world) they practise bloody circumcision with young girls who will never find a way back to a normal sexual experience without their nerves.
So Nacho Duato has found a theme that is historical and contemporary at the same time, and the art of dancing is really made for subjects that oscillate between the times and structures of society like this.
Music made by Antonio Vivaldi and Karl Jenkins underlines the mixture of beauty and pain this ballet deals with.
And only sometimes the dancers put their hands to the part of their body where „Castrati“ are no longer natural.
But in their dancing there is so much grace and suppleness, so much lightness and flexibility that you cannot overlook that dance is an artform with a high proportion of transcendence.
The audience expresses its thankfulness with thunderous applaus – the intensity of „Castrati“ has won their hearts.
After the first break, the mood on stage is completely different. „Secus“, the piece created by Ohad Naharin, waits with calm high energy, flirting poses and a lot of power for the persuit of happiness.
The dancers are wearing leggings and tops in colorful designs, they obviously want to give joy.
But life is not as easy as it seems, and so they try – with pop and jazz music – to find a way to improve their situations. Couples are arranged with humour, and even the solo dances herein are part of a never ending communication.
The group is important, and the dancers – male and female – behave like in a painting made by Joan Miró. „Don’t be sad, try harder!“ – That’s the message.
It’s funny when they exercise partnership. A girl and a boy look at each other, their bodies nearly touch – but then she dances for herself and he solaces himself with overboarding happy jumps. Sometimes even adults behave like children! Then the light turns out and on – like in Hans van Manens famous ballet piece „The Old Man and Me“. And indeed the couple comes together… not in a traditional way but they make it. Funny to see how!
Another couple, two men, start with a lot of empathy but then feel a conflict. Uuups, they have to find out how to make love after a disgruntlement. And they do! Of course, in a non-traditional way.
Then they show the place where the heart is, one by one they come to the stage ramp to lift their T-shirts. The audience can be glad to have such honest dancers!
Then the gesture of the ensemble turns into giving hands. At the end a girl says: „Welcome!“ And with this nice feeling of coming home they let us go into the the second break.
Vladislav Marinov and Alexander Shpak, Patricia Zhou and Lucio Vidal, Elena Pris and Federico Spallitta, Giuliana Bottino and Ty Gurfein, Jordan Mullin and Kévin Pouzou, Danielle Muir and Xenia Wiest really flash in this piece by showing their personalities as well as their roles.
Mari Kawanishi, Pauline Voisard, Dominic Whitbrook and Alexander Akulov develop their dancer’s creativity – Naharin’s piece is made for artists that never want to stand still.
All in all it is like a reference to choreographers like Twyla Tharp as well as to theatre queens like Pina Bausch who Ohad Naharin can quote without giving away his own ideas knowing he has also found his own dance system called „Gaga“. Lightness and openness, also tolerance here belong to the first virtues.
In the third piece of the evening Staatsballett Berlin shows a third style, a third mood, a third resume of dancing.
Insofar SBB is so passionated and versatile that you only can compare it to Royal Ballet in London. And indeed the audience pays so much attention and gives so much applause that you know they feel and enjoy the quality.
„Petite Mort“ is a modern bestseller in ballet, made by Jiří Kylián. The French title is an allusion to sexual orgasm as well as to aggression and war. Six couples herein illustrate Mozart music, the men play with rapiers, the girls have costume busts to handle with.
The couple dances are extremely erotic and extremely sublime. That’s why the piece has become so famous: this „thing“ between men and women is analyzed and shown in one step.
Cécile Kaltenbach and, new cast: beautiful Giacomo Bevilacqua (Konstantin Lorenz in the premiere), Luciana Voltolini and Vladislav Marinov, Maria Boumpouli and Federico Spallitta, Krasina Pavlova and Dominic Hodal, Aurora Dickie (who will be the next main role in „Nutcracker“ in Berlin) and Mikhail Kaniskin and also Elena Pris and Lucio Vidal dance this fine and generous piece of love without losing the focus with their eyes. The couples train their capacity to dance in conventional combinations. Pain and personality here also sometimes fit very well together. But nevertheless this is part of the modern world, too!
„Duato / Kylián / Naharin“ in Deutsche Oper Berlin.
On 20th of November dances a new cast!
Premierenbericht auf Deutsch bitte hier:
Ein Interview mit Ballettintendant Nacho Duato bitte hier:
Weitere Infos natürlich auch hier: