First of all, why don’t ballet companies have tour tee shirts? I still have tee shirts from Depeche Mode, U2, and tons of Henry Rollins touring tee shirts. What we really need are awesome tee shirts, if someone could get on that right away, I’d be truly grateful.
Okay, now, moving on. I say this with all honesty and not just because you know how I feel about Manuel Legris…yeah… this mixed bill program was one of the best nights of ballet EVER. I am talking E-V-E-R! Seriously. So, of course, it was a Manu-athon, the man does not short change a person on an evening of ballet; it was a total of four hours including two intermissions. I realize that that sounds like a long time but you get an intermission to go to the bathroom and another to get a glass of champagne and when the dancing is luscious and the program is fabulous, what else could you want… except maybe tickets for the next night!!!
I saw the Tuesday, April 24th performance which was opening night. You also know how I feel about opening night, I love the extra energy and excitement that fills both the audience and the performers. The location was the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno Park. Ueno Park is like Central Park in NYC, there are museums, a zoo, and this wonderful performing arts center. It’s a fantastic size for dance, the rake is perfection, I can’t imagine that there is a bad seat in the house. I also have to say that acoustically, it is absolutely wonderful.
“Bach Suite III”
Choreo: John Neumeier; Music: Bach
This was a really gorgeous piece. It was very athletic while being lyrical and lush at the same time. Neumeier has a habit of choreographing strange and sometimes clumsy looking lifts, but the lifts in this piece were wonderful and spellbinding. All the dancers were really superb but the stand outs were Mihail Sosnovschi and Kiyoka Hashimoto, they were a perfect pair throughout.
Pas de deux from “Anna Karenina”
Choreo: Boris Eifman; Music: Tchaikovsky
This was danced by Irina Tsymbal and Eno Peci. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Everything about this piece was gorgeous. It was dramatic and striking, the contrast between the Eno in black and Irina in white was simply mesmerizing. The partnership was perfection. Eno’s Karenin was dark and brooding to Irina’s Anna who was heartbreakingly beautiful, sorrowful and perfect. I would love to see them dance the ballet in its entirety.
Excerpt from “Marie Antoinette”
Choreo: Patrick de Bana; Music: Rameau, Cobo, and Vivaldi
I know that this ballet got mixed reviews when it was performed earlier this year, but I had my own expectations as I am a fan of Patrick de Bana’s choreography. He has a very specific way of telling a story and I find it intriguing, often beguiling, and always memorable. I was not disappointed. This excerpt was the ending of the ballet where Destiny hovers and overtakes Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Kirill Kourlaev, who was recently promoted to Principal dancer, was brilliant as Destiny. Kirill is an incredible dancer – light, fast, energetic, dramatic, he worked a long red coat with the drama of a flamenco dancer, I say that as a great compliment. Olga Esina was beautifully tragic as Marie Antoinette. The utter despair of Olga and Roman Lazik, as Louis XVI, was palatable. Olga would lightly jump into Roman’s arms and they would crumple in the knowledge that the end was upon them. How I did not go to see this ballet performed at Versailles, I do not know! I will not make that mistake again.
**Side Note: The awesome Patrick de Bana posted on my Facebook timeline – there was a serious happy dance when I saw it. Wicked cool!!! Hold on, I have to do another happy dance…
thank you so much for coming such a long way………….
i am so so happy that the magic came through……………….
enjoy tokyo and all the best to you.
Choreo: Paul Lightfoot & Sol Leon; Music: Gioachino Rossini
This was a light contemporary comedy piece. Although I do love contemporary dance, I am not always the biggest fan of absurdist comedic pieces. Manu, however, seems to like an absurdist piece with odd humor because he always throws one in. And normally, I still don’t like them but Skew – Whiff was absolutely adorable and wonderfully danced. This company has an incredible ability to flip back and forth from contemporary and classic ballet. I don’t know how adept they were at this particular skill before Manu, but it can’t hurt having him direct them through this because that happens to be one of his many, many talents.
“Glow – Stop”
Choreo: Jorma Elo; Music: Mozart & Philip Glass
Really lovely company piece. I like Elo work for the most part, contemporary with an undercurrent of classical ballet. Irina Tsymbal and Olga Esina were particularly lovely. Mozart and Philip Glass, yeah. Dance goodness.
“In the Night”
Choreo: Jerome Robbins; Music: Chopin
One word. Glorious. Holy crap, Manuel Legris can still dance! How old is he? I’m not sure what he does but he needs to write a book or if he could bottle it, seriously, the man would be a billionaire. He still looks amazing! young and energetic, he moves with such elegance and heart stopping beauty. I was perched on the edge of my chair hardly remembering to breathe. The piece was accompanied by a single pianist, Igor Zapravdin, who was brilliant. I also ran into Mr. Zapravdin at Chacott the day after the performance and he was so sweet and humble. He told me it was his first time playing for Manu in Japan and he was still nervous! I would have flown all the way from LA to Tokyo to see this piece all by itself!
“The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude”
Choreo: William Fosythe; Music: Schubert
I like Forsythe choreo but I don’t always like seeing Forsythe danced because it MUST be danced by exceptional dancers or it’s just sort of flailing and awful. This was really good. It was well-balanced and nicely danced, there was plenty of energy, the movement was light and quick. I thought that Denys Cherevychko stood out. He’s a small dancer with clean technique, quick feet, and lovely arms. Nicely done by all.
“Ludwig II – The Swan King”
Choreo: Patrick de Bana; Music: Wagner
I was really looking forward to this piece as it was the world premier. I really enjoyed it, really, really. I find that de Bana works are visceral; he works with themes, emotions, and imagery rather than strictly to story line. I think that this approach is interesting with regard to the history of Ludwig II because his story is one shrouded by mystery and fantasy. de Bana created this piece for Manu and of course, he danced Ludwig so sorrowfully, so perfectly. The vague and complex relationship between Elisabeth and Ludwig was difficult to reveal, what was clear was that madness and sadness enveloped each of them separately and together. One didn’t need to know the story to be filled with despair and sadness and that is excellent storytelling through dance.
Grand Pas from “Raymonda”
Choreo: Nureyev; Music: Glasunow
Gorgeous, classical ballet was a great way to end the evening. Perhaps it is special that Manu chose to end the evening with Raymonda, after all, it has to hold a precious place in his heart having been name etoile after his performance as Jean de Brienne. I don’t get the whole story of Raymonda, actually I’m not even sure there is a story there but the Grand Pas is a great chunk of very technical, very lovely classical ballet and the company did a beautiful job with it and made it a capstone for the evening.
And, of course, there was still time to go to the stage door