The Manu-athon of Dance – Program B

Okay, Program B. Two words – Aurélie Dupont.

First up, Creatures choreographed by Patrick de Bana and danced by Tamako Akiyama and Dimo Kirilov Milev. Creatures was created to be danced by two people regardless of gender pairing. That is one of the things that I love about this work. It’s such a powerful piece that it really transcends gender, the power is in two human beings. Creatures is about discovering our humanity, our deeply conflicted, tortured, beautiful humanity. It’s one of my favorite pieces period. I still remember the very first time I saw it, images of Dimo and Patrick dancing it are literally burned into my mind. This work was integral in inspiring me to begin my own search to learn to dance. The power and emotion of movement in this piece really did so much to change the way I view dance, I can’t talk about it enough. And it was gorgeously danced. I love it, they could keep doing this over and over until it’s time for Manuel to dance!

Next, Neumeier’s Nocturnes danced by Silvia Azzoni and Alexandre Riabko to a live pianist on stage. You know, I adore that, having musicians on stage with dancers. Seriously, it’s perfection. Not that the choreography was bad – it was lovely but honestly Silvia and Alexandre could dance the Sesame Street alphabet and be breathtaking. FYI, I am NOT a Sesame Street person. I find most dolls disturbing and when I was little, it was Romper Room that initially put me off kids shows. Remember that lady with the mirror-less mirror calling out kids names? She wasn’t fooling anybody, she was making crap up! Plus, I was positive that it was a show for, you know, slow kids – because those kids were way to big to be illiterate, plus when I was five years old, I was vehemently against phonics as a pedagogy to teach children to read. These kids didn’t know what an albatross was, how was that going to help them understand the letter – A! Oh, oh, sorry… ballet…

L’arlesienne danced by Maria Yakovleva and Kirill Kourlaev was next. Have you seen the YouTube vid of Manuel dancing this piece at a Julio Bocca thing in New York?  Drool!

Kirill did not dance it like this. Too bad too. It was just not as crisp, as haunted, as tragic. The menage wasn’t dramatic enough, I mean, the man is about to jump to his death, it needs to be  manic – T-R-A-G-I-C.

More de Bana, this time in Factum. This is a relatively new work, it was created for ImpulsTanz in Vienna, I believe. I missed that, I had to, you know, write a dissertation. Sexy. Naughty. A little bit raunchy. I like it, I like it. This work is also flamenco-y inspired but not full on flamenco. Patrick danced it with Helena Martin and she is just brilliant at drama, she must have Latin blood, that’s all I can say.

Okay. Okay. Le Parc. The kissing, twirling PDD. You haven’t seen it? Oh. My. Ballet. Gods! Where have you been?

I love this so so so so so so so so so so so much. So much. It’s sexy and sad and beautiful and somehow tragic but ultimately gorgeous surrender. I LOOOOOVVVVEEEE it. And it’s even better in person, up close, and in person. Aurelie cannot retire and leave us. She just can’t. If you can watch this and not fall in love with Manuel, I just really don’t know what to say about you… okay, I know I’m already tragically enamored but seriously… watch the video again. See what I’m saying!?

Intermission – yeah, because after that we are all puddles on the floor!

We are treated to a work by Dimo Kirilov Milev called Aimless danced by Dimo and Tamako Akiyama. I have to find out more about these two because they are awesome and this contemporary piece was insanely adorable but also intriguing and clever. Throw back sort of 70’s styled bell bottom pants and shirts, breezy, just hanging out music by Marc Ribot. I liked it. A lot.

Theme and Variation with Liudmila Konovalova and Denys Cherevychko. This is the one that David Hallberg refers to as the Pink Monster because at ABT they wear pink when they dance it, but Liudmila, Denys and the Tokyo Ballet wore light blue and looked fantastic. Liudmila has these arches that are to die over. Denys was perking up and all in all, Theme and Variation is a wonderful classical piece, wonderfully danced by all and what classical ballet should look like. YAY!

Not Without My Head choreographed by Natalia Horecna and danced by Silvia and Alexandre. I have never heard of this work before – there was yelping, hollering, muttering, and a lot of odd flailing. There was also great whimsy, fantastic partnering, and a wonky but interesting narrative there. I got to see it twice but I want to see it a couple of more times. It’s one of those great pieces that you can think about and then talk about for days.

Moszkowski Waltz danced by Maria and Kirill was pure loveliness and the audience loved it. Two of the most adorable little girls wearing tutus were sitting behind me and they started yelling “brava, brava!” Too, too or tutu cute. It’s not deep but it’s gorgeous and it’s quite satisfactory to the eyes and  to the heart.

Now I know that Neumeier’s Sylvia is not everyone’s favorite. But I have to admit, I like it better than the classical version that we all think of when we think of the ballet Sylvia. And once again, I get to watch Manuel Legris throw himself at a woman’s feet in the tragedy of love lost (because I could watch him do that in Onegin FOREVER) and even though it’s perfect, I fight the urge to stand on my seat and yell… “But he threw himself at your feet! Dear god, woman, for the love of the world and all that is holy, that is Manuel Legris lying on the floor before you!” But I control myself, you’d be proud. Neumeier’s Sylvia as a whole – you know, there’s that love/hate thing – but the final PDD, I die.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – Manuel Legris’ Tokyo gala’s are INSANELY FABULOUS. The programs, the dancers, everything makes for a perfect evening of dance. So much to see, to take in, to think about, to talk about, to dream about. It’s beyond satisfying, it’s dance nourishment. I almost hate to have to go home. But homebound we are… and I can hardly wait for next year!

The Manu-athon of Dance – Program A

The New Universe of Manuel Legris gala’s are always incredible programming with fabulous dancers that make up the most remarkable experiences in dance. There are always two programs and both are always well thought out and offer lots of wonderful bits of both classical ballet and contemporary work.

Program A ran for two nights. The evening opened with a PDD from Carmen danced by Nina Poláková and Kirill Kourlaev, both are first soloists with Vienna State Ballet. Nina and Kirill are excellent dancers and although opening with Carmen should have provided a stunning and exciting start to the evening, I thought it lacked aggression and passion. The dancing was technically very good but… it lacked the dangerous abandon that Carmen should have. I think that with time and experience they will be fully capable of the kind of performance that Carmen deserves but not exactly just yet.

Next up was Patrick de Bana dancing his own choreographed piece “Wind and Clouds” to music by Kayhan Kalhor and Ali Bahrami Fard. Bare-chested and dancing in a long, flowing blue iridescent skirt, Patrick was positively mesmerizing. He has that inexplicable presence that captures and controls your attention. The man knows how to work a skirt too. If you are not familiar with Patrick, he was trained at Hamburg Ballet and was a principal dancer at Béjart Ballet Lausanne and at Compañia Nacional de Danza of Spain before striking out on his own. His work is visceral; he tells stories through emotion and a manipulation of space rather than mime and bravura. His work is thrilling and he  himself is stunning. I’m a huge fan. Wind and clouds was fulfilling dance.

Tchaikovsky pas de deux danced by Maria Yakovleva and Denys Cherevychko also first soloists of Vienna State Ballet, followed. Maria was on fire but it was not Denys’ night. I think Denys is a fantastic dancer – small, bright, fast, great energy, and lovely technique – he came back on the second night but was not as energetic or perfect as I’ve seen him dance in the past. Jet lag maybe? The first night he dropped Maria from above his head down to his shoulder on their way off stage. I was sitting in a place where I could see into the wings a bit so I’m not sure if everyone saw it or just those of us sitting to the side with an angled view. It felt a little lopsided in energy, Maria=on, Denys=not as much. Better the second night.

Neumeier’s Spring and Fall starring Hamburg Ballet’s Silvia Azzoni and Alexandre Riabko and The Tokyo Ballet was next. I am so in love with Silvia and Alexandre, I can barely express it! I do believe that I will need to trek to Hamburg in the near future. Spring and Fall is very Neumeier. I have a love/hate thing with Neumeier, he makes absolute beauty and then does some weird rolling on the floor, over handling, odd grabby business and I’m like – NoooOOooooOOOooo, stop that! There is a section where the boy corps dance and they have these little partnering bits and it’s just clunky. It’s not the dancers either, it’s the choreo. Sometimes Neumeier’s work is just clunky, there I said it. Sometimes he puts a lift, a turn, a hop, a flexed foot, and a half-dozen developes where one tendu would do nicely. But as I said, he also can create pure perfect heavenly beauty and Silvia and Alexandre danced that beauty for all it could be. In the end, the small bits of clunkiness are forgiven and forgotten in the happiness of a gorgeous performance.

Die Fledermaus. You’ll recall that I went to Tokyo to see Manuel Legris dance this ballet in full with Vienna State Ballet last year. This ballet is too much fun. Manuel dances with Maria Yakovleva, who is adorable in this role. Manuel hams it up perfectly and the whole thing is pure delight. Manuel was all energy, every step light and floaty and quick, perfect turns. Maria has a great sense of comedic acting and is wonderfully charming as the distraught wife of a man who inexplicably turns into a bat and flies away – who comes up with this stuff?! Perfection.

After an intermission, we are offered Helena Martin in Triana. I believe that Helena is a flamenco dancer with Ballet Teatro Espanol. Unfortunately Google does not produce much information about her so if you’ve got any, please share. She is wonderful and I love that Manuel included a flamenco inspired piece in the program. I say flamenco inspired because it lacked full on flamenco-ness and I would have loved to have had more heel work because it was a little light but her arms were intense and flamenco-y goodness.

Maria Yakovleva and Kirill Kourlaev danced Bach Suite III, always a winner. This is also a Neumeier piece and it seemed that this year we were a bit Neumeier heavy. I’m not complaining, only an observation. Bach Suite III is very pretty, full enjoyable and danced beautifully.

Patrick de Bana was back with Dimo Kirilov Milev and Tamako Akiyama in a piece choreographed by Patrick called Red Tears. Dimo and Tamako were both principals at Compañia Nacional de Danza of Spain. In my own ballet ignorance I had never heard of Tamako but I remembered Dimo from seeing him dance Creatures with Patrick a few years back in Ardani’s Tour de Force II. They are both beautiful dancers. Tamako is small and lithe and moves with such sincerity and soul, before the end of the night, I was in love with her. The piece was sublime, delicate, and literally drew breath and tears right from the soul. It ended with red petals dropping from the ceiling onto the three dancers. Performed in Japan, it made the piece even more poignant.  The red petals were the perfect symbolism for the delicate shower of cherry blossoms that are both glorious and sorrowful at the same time. Cherry blossoms are in bloom for just a brief time, only about two weeks! so when the wind blows and you are showered in the petals, it’s gorgeous and amazing but you are also sad because you know that once the petals fall to the ground, the beauty of the cherry blossom in bloom is all over until next season. You feel Red Tears, you just don’t see it.

Silvia and Alexandre were back with a PDD from Neumeier’s Hamlet. I had zero experience with this version so I had no idea what to expect. It’s a modern version and from just one PDD, it’s hard to gather what exactly what the angle was but Silvia and Alexandre dance beautifully. I think I need to see this ballet in full.

Manuel had planned on choreographing a piece for himself but he’s got a lot going on and just didn’t have the time, which he explained in a note in the program. So we got Ludwig II – The Swan King. This was premiered during the Vienna State Ballet trip to Tokyo last year, which I also saw – of course. Danced by Manuel, Maria Yakovleva, and Nina Poláková and choreographed by Patrick de Bana, this piece is really stunning. It was a truly moving way to close the evening. On a stark stage, the dancers’ costumes are in direct contrast to each other and to the darkened atmosphere, Maria in dark, bustled full length dress, Nina in a sparkly nude bodysuit, and Manuel in simple all white. We watch The Swan King fall into madness danced to the music of Wagner, there is a sense of voyeurism, of peeking in on something that you have not been invited to see and perhaps is even dangerous to witness. A perfect way to end an evening of glorious dance.

It was such a great program, I saw it twice! There was a one day break before Program B, so I guess there was nothing to do but go ballet shopping at Fairy and Chacott!