April 23, 2013 5:55 pm

Meisterwerke, Opernhaus, Stuttgart – review

Stuttgart Ballet’s triple bill boldly combines challenging works by Balanchine, Robbins and Glen Tetley
Friedemann Vogel and Maria Eichwald in ‘The Four Temperaments’

Friedemann Vogel and Maria Eichwald in ‘The Four Temperaments’

Stuttgart Ballet’s new triple bill is, by any measure, a mammoth undertaking – just one of The Four Temperaments, Dances at a Gathering or The Rite of Spring represents a significant challenge for any company, so to offer all three says much about director Reid Anderson’s confidence in the abilities of his troupe. It is far from hubris: his company rides high, not only with its stable of superlative male dancers (how does it brim with male talent when most scrabble to find just a few?) but now also an up-and-coming cohort of strong women. It makes for an exhilarating evening of dance.

Balanchine’s 1946 The Four Temperaments fuses classical movement with the lean angularity that became his trademark; its continuing modernity remains a marvel. Paul Hindemith’s warm, witty score is superbly played by the Staatsorchester Stuttgart under Mikhail Agrest and the company rises to the considerable challenge of a masterpiece in which Balanchine performs an anatomy lesson on balletic movement. Marijn Rademaker is the very definition of Phlegmatic, luminous in his musicality, and Friedemann Vogel partners and dances with brio in Sanguine. A notable revival.

When danced well, Jerome Robbins’ 1969 Dances at a Gathering can touch perfection, and in Stuttgart such is the close, almost familial, bond between the company’s dancers that its choreographic felicities and inner warmth simply pour forth. Outstanding (again) are the men: Rademaker (Brown) – dancers are identified by their costume colour – and Vogel (Green), but also emphatic Jason Reilly (Purple) and exciting, quicksilver soloist Daniel Camargo (Brick), a name to remember. Alicia Amatriain (Pink) is beautifully pliant with expressive upper torso and arms. Glenn Prince provided the first-class accompaniment of Chopin piano works.

Glen Tetley’s 1974 Rite of Spring is simply out of Balanchine and Robbins’ choreographic league, although the orchestra unleashes a veritable maelstrom of Stravinskian sound. Two elements compromise this version irredeemably: Tetley’s unconvincing amalgam of classical dance with modern movement sits uneasily with a primeval tale of sacrifice, and his musicality ignores the maddening intricacies of this great centenarian score to the point of perversity. Alexander Zaitsev, it must be recorded, gamely dons the Chosen One’s skimpy briefs and hurls himself manically into the role’s faintly ludicrous excesses and Reilly and Anna Osadcenko are faultless as his contortionist parents.


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