5 Perfect Performances to Explore Contemporary Choreography

5 Perfect Performances to Explore Contemporary Choreography

Especially for the IngoDance readers, Anastasia Isaeva has put together five performances that will open the door to a new world for beginners.

John Neumeier: The Lady of the Camellias

A performance based on a well-known literary work is always easier to perceive - the viewer doesn’t have to guess the meaning of every gesture. The Lady of the Camellias is exactly the case, so we can safely recommend the ballet to those who want to get acquainted with modern dance.

The performance uses the music by Fryderyk Chopin, adding a bright dramatic component and non-trivial choreography to it. This choreography seems to be permeated with complex technical elements, lifts and memorable duets, but at the same time, the freedom of neoclassical dance makes it "lively" and dynamic.

You can see this ballet at the Bolshoi Theater.

Jiri Kylian: Petite Mort (Little Death)

It is difficult to attribute Kylian to a single modern dance style - his earlier performances tended to neoclassicism, the later ones have already been created in his own personal manner. Choreography by Jiri Kylian, with its complicated lifts, non-classical positions of the dancers’ bodies and atypically constructed poses, as if hypnotizes the audience: music and dance are so organically intertwined. In all of his ballets, Kylian uses classical music and choses it so carefully that when watching the performance you get a persistent feeling that a more suitable choreography simply doesn’t exist. 

It's the same story with the Petite Mort - an absolute synergy of music and dance ensures that untrained spectators can use this production as a starting point on the way to great discoveries in contemporary art.

You can watch the ballet at the MAMT.  

Ohad Naharin: Minus 16

Ohad Naharin is a creator of a special movement language called "gaga", a choreographer who has an extraordinary view of dance. Improvisational technique and unusual movements are strong distinguishing features that set him apart from other contemporary choreographers.

The Minus 16 performance as such is quite unusual for the audience: you can take part in it, dance with the artists on stage and literally plunge into the world of modern ballet.

The performance can be viewed at the MAMT. 

Akram Khan: KAASH and Giselle

A choreographer of Indian descent, he grew up and was educated in the West. That is why his choreography is a synthesis of two worlds - eastern and western. Khan's flamboyant individual style manifests itself in an unusual approach to interpretations.

For example, in his Giselle, the action takes place not in a village, but at a garment factory, where migrant workers lost their jobs. But it is even more interesting to see how a well-known ballet can be presented in a completely different interpretation. It is not for nothing that the New York Times called Giselle the best ballet of Akram Khan! Seeing KAASH is worth it to fully immerse yourself in the choreographer's creativity and the specificity of modern dance.

You can see KAASH at the MAMT. While Giselle can be watched at the cinema or on video streaming platforms. 

George Balanchine: Jewels

If the work of Akram Khan and Ohad Naharin seems too radical, you can always return to the creator of the neoclassical ballet - George Balanchine. His performances are like an ode to classical dance: on the one hand, there are great freedom and dynamics of movement; on the other, there are plenty of familiar moves and positions.

Jewels is a plotless ballet, but, as George Balanchine said, put a man and a girl on stage and you can always see a plot behind the action, there is already a story...

The ballet can be viewed at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theaters.