Stuttgart Ballet in Party Pieces selected by Reid Anderson

Schauspielhaus, Stuttgart
July 16, 2018

David Mead

For the second programme of the week-long celebration marking both Reid Anderson’s 22 years as director and his retirement, the Stuttgart Ballet director selected a few highlights from the shorter ballets created during his time at the helm, along with two excerpts from longer works. Much enjoyed by the audience who quickly got into party mood, enthusiastically and warmly applauding every piece, it proved an evening of tasty hors d’oeuvres ahead of the more substantial ballets to come.

The evening of very diverse dance opened with a solo from Ssss… by Edward Clug. To a Chopin Nocturne, Marijn Rademaker’s precise, symbolic dance with its tension filled limbs is enigmatic. There is a sense that he wants to escape and dance freely but cannot, although he gets close at one moment near the end before being reined back in.

Sirs was created in 2007 by Bridget Breiner, presently leading the Ballett im Revier Gelsenkirchen, but who is to succeed Birgit Keil as artistic director of the Badisches Staatsballett in Karlsruhe in 2019. Danced to Nina Simone singing Joseph Hathaway and Charles Kingsley’s ‘The Young Knight’, it’s a little gem. Breiner’s folksy choreography is full of light-touch humour; dance with a smile on its face. Fabio Adorisio, Timoor Afshar and Noan Alves, bare-chested and in bell-bottoms were a delight as they chased after Rocio Aleman.

Elisa Badenes in Limelight by Katarzyna KozielskaPhoto Stuttgart Ballet
Elisa Badenes in Limelight by Katarzyna Kozielska
Photo Stuttgart Ballet

Fast moving and energetic, Limelight by Katarzyna Kozielska demands clarity with its alternate slow and fast movement and sudden changes of direction. Perhaps it’s Per Störby Jutbring’s music, but it seems to have a hint of tango sans partner about it. It fits Elisa Badenes to a T.

And talking of Ts, or T-shirts at least, to the stretchy pink ones of Come neve al sole. Rolando D’Alesio’s ballet has long been a favourite and Miriam Kacerova and Roman Novitzky did it full justice. With sudden changes of mood from serious to humorous and back again, it’s a brief look at an ordinary relationship with all its ups and downs, the couple staying together come rain or shine. Simply gorgeous.

Fancy Goods by Marco Goecke was neatly interpreted by the pectoral muscle twitching Friedemann Vogel, although it’s perhaps best remembered for its five Vegas showgirl pink feather fans.

Miriam Kacerova and Roman Novitzky in Come neve al sole by Rolando D`AlesioPhoto Stuttgart Ballet
Miriam Kacerova and Roman Novitzky
in Come neve al sole by Rolando D`Alesio
Photo Stuttgart Ballet

Roman Novitzky’s Are You As Big As Me? gets off to a fun start with Matteo Miccini, Louis Steins, Alessandro Giaquinto busily running on the sport, one happily trundling along while the other two fight to keep up. What follows is sharply accurate yet quirky and playful as the threesome look like animated monkeys, although there are some classical moments in there too, notably some lovely suspended turns.

A total change of mood brought one of the two highlights of the evening: Hyo-Jung Kang and Martí Fernández Paixà in the sublime Arcadia by Douglas Lee. Ludovico Einaudi’s ambient, almost new-age style music would not usually be my first choice for choreography but here it fits the dance perfectly. The two dancers stay in contact for almost the entire pas de deux; and when they do let go, its only momentarily as they stay in close quarters. It’s technically very demanding. The suggestion is of a blissful place with much of the action is as dreamy as the music and shadowy lighting but bliss can be exciting too, as when Kang is flung around at speed.

Hyo-Jung Kang and Martí Fernández Paixà in Arcadia by Douglas LeePhoto Stuttgart Ballet
Hyo-Jung Kang and Martí Fernández Paixà in Arcadia by Douglas Lee
Photo Stuttgart Ballet

If the evening needed fireworks, it got then courtesy of Daniel Carmargo, a real dynamo and full of energy in Firebreather, a virtuosic solo by Kozielska.

Elvis meets ballet in Demis Volpi’s rather sweet Little Monsters. It’s a sort of a love story, the dance reflecting the lyrics and emotion behind three of the singer’s best-known songs. From ‘Love Me Tender’ through ‘I Want You, I Need You, I Love You’ to ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’, Elisa Badenes and David Moore relate the story from first meeting through the joy of love to the heartbreak of separation.

Anna Osadcenko and Friedemann Vogel in Kazimir´s Colours by Mario BigonzettiPhoto Stuttgart Ballet
Anna Osadcenko and Friedemann Vogel
in Kazimir´s Colours by Mauro Bigonzetti
Photo Stuttgart Ballet

In an evening of so many good moments, so to second standout: Kazimir’s Colours by Mauro Bigonzetti was inspired by the early Russian avant-garde painter Kazimir Malevich, a pioneer of geometric abstract art. That can be seen clearly in the unusual lines of the pas de deux, danced by Anna Osadcenko and Friedemann Vogel, as limbs in classical arabesques hinge in and out. Just like Shostakovich’s music, the dance is one of yearning, gestures frequently reaching beyond the fingertips and way out into space. It also benefits from some truly subtle lighting that picks out the bodies to perfection. The end is subtle and beautifully understated.

An injury to Jason Reilly meant we were denied both Eric Gauthier’s Ballet 101 and Itzik Galili’s super duet Mono Lisa. But every cloud has a silver lining, and instead the evening closed with Alicia Amatriain in Volpi’s Allure. You would never know it was a very last-minute substitution or that she hadn’t performed it for several years. The slightly jazzy, slinky solo to music by Nina Simone is full of female seductiveness. A great way to round off the evening.