Signs of what may be to come in Britain as Stuttgart Ballet cancels the remainder of 2019-2020 season

David Mead

Following this week’s announcements by the government of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the Stuttgart Ballet 2019-2020 season as it was originally planned, has been cancelled. At the same time, the ministry has given the company permission to carefully begin rehearsing and to explore new formats which can potentially include small scale performances for limited numbers of viewers. All activities are, of course, subject to the federal and local health rules and regulations as pertain to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Since April 20th, daily classes have resumed on a voluntary basis and under rigorous hygienic measures. What might well be a sign of what is on the way for British companies, these include: only 2 to 5 dancers per studio (depending on the size), a minimum of 2 meters between each dancer, disinfection of all barres and airing each of each studio after each class and a thorough disinfection of each studio at least twice a day.

The ministry – in agreement with the local health authorities and the physician of the State Theater Stuttgart – has now also given permission for rehearsals limited to 5 people per studio and a minimum of two meters between dancers to begin. Partnering is still prohibited.

In spite of these restrictions, Artistic Director Tamas Detrich is seeing the positive side of the Ministry’s decision: “I and my colleagues of the Staatsoper Stuttgart and the Schauspiel Stuttgart are relieved that a concrete decision has been made which allows us to begin planning for the immediate future. Most important is that we can continue working and are allowed to explore new formats. It is now up to us to deal creatively with this situation and embrace the artistic challenge. The Stuttgart Ballet is fortunate in that it has talented and versatile choreographers within the company, all of whom are looking forward to creating. I feel this is crucial not just for the artists but also for our audience: that we look forward and engage with our art form and each other in whatever ways are allowed within the framework of always keeping the safety of everyone involved as the top priority.”

Fabio Adorisio, Ami Morita, Hyo-Jung Kang and Roman Novitzky in Patterns of ¾ by Edward ClugPhoto Stuttgart Ballet
Fabio Adorisio, Ami Morita, Hyo-Jung Kang and Roman Novitzky in Patterns of ¾ by Edward Clug
Photo Stuttgart Ballet

As the new projects are being developed, the Stuttgart Ballet continues to offer works via video-on-demand with StuttgartBallet@Home. Next up are Edward Clug’s Bauhaus-inspired Patterns in ¾ and John Cranko’s rarely seen gem Initials R.B.M.E.

Available from May 7, 1900 BST to May 10, 2300 BST, Edward Clug’s Patterns in ¾ was commissioned by the Stuttgart Ballet in 2019 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the world-famous Bauhaus School in Weimar. Set to music by Steve Reich and Milko Lazar, it pays witty tribute to the aesthetics and concepts of Bauhaus. Deceptively minimalistic, the work creates an evocative and hypnotic atmosphere.

The following week, available May 14, 1900 BST to May 17, 2300 BST, John Cranko’s Initials R.B.M.E. is well known and beloved in Stuttgart but rarely seen elsewhere. A true gem of the repertory, Cranko created this symphonic ballet in 1972 as an homage to four of his main dancers and muses: Richard Cragun, Birgit Keil, Marcia Haydee and Egon Madsen, capitalising on the unique talents of each of them. Set to Johannes Brahms sweeping Second Piano Concerto this seemingly abstract, technically challenging ballet revolves around the themes of friendship and humanity. A rare treat for all lovers of John Cranko’s work!

Both ballets can be watched on the Stuttgart Ballet website and YouTube channel.