BWW Review: Dresden Semperoper Ballett, November 3, 2017
Having been to Dresden and only seeing the opera, I was very curious as to what the ballet company had to offer. Luckily, I was not disappointed.
The repertoire at home, including both classical and new works, was not so much in evidence, as the company was only presenting small modern works. Still, this was enough to show that this is a first-rate company.
The evening presented three choreographers: David Dawson, Joseph Hernandez and Stijn Celis, known more to European audiences than America audiences, which is something we should rectify soon.
Dawson had two works on the program. The first, 5 (a U.S. premiere), originated as the Wedding Pas de Cinq in Dawson's production of Giselle. Adapted to this new re-imagining, the dance provided two men and three women with fast paced, ingenious and tricky combinations to show off their virtuosity. Since there were no dramatic overtones, it was a pleasure to sit back and watch these dancers at work. How this looked in Giselle I have no idea, but one came away feeling that this would have brought that touch of bravura and audience approval that one does not usually see in productions of Giselle.
On the Nature of Daylight, a New York premiere, is set to the music of Max Richter. A moody, bluesy pas de deux, it sets up a couple who, seemingly, have no relationship to each other, other than to dance, kiss, and say goodbye. Beautifully danced by Alice Mariani and Christian Bauch, with atmospheric lighting by Dawson, the work stands alone, cut-off. Even loneliness can't enter the pas de deux. The dancers leave. We are left thinking "and then what?"
Ganz Leise Kommt Die Nacht, choreographed by Joseph Hernandez, who also designed the costumes and lighting, was a world premiere. Since I was not familiar with Mr. Hernandez, the work offered me an opportunity to give me an honest appraisal, and from what I saw I believe that there is a bright future in store for this choreographer. It's eerie, somewhat chaotic in structure, I'd say probably highly personal, veering from the lonely to the downright depressing. But that was a first assessment. All the dancers, Aidan Gibson, Ayaha Tsunaki, Francesca Pio Ricci and Jon Vallejo, performed with scrupulous attention to the moody rhythms of Bohren & Der Club of Gore. There was still more to be mined from this performance.
Vertigo Maze by Stijn Celis was set to music of Johann Sebastian Bach, the Partita d-Minor BW 1004 for Violin solo. It was the final ballet of the evening, and a good choice. In a series of pas de deux for six dancers, the work explores flawed and damaged relationships that move through a liquid space. The costumes, by Kathy Brunner, also added to this feeling. The women wore nude corsets and the men were bare chested and dressed in flesh colored shorts. This added to the erotic tension that was explored increasingly as the dancers paired off. Yet, at the end, the lights faded as the dancers parted.
I eagerly look forward to viewing the Dresden Semperoper Ballett again. The company deserves more than one viewing. Actually, many.
Stijn Celis's Vertigo Maze, photo © Costin Radu