Back on Stage

Back on Stage

Anastasia Isaeva, an expert of the IngoDance portal, explains why it is important that the performances Svadebka by Jiri Kylian and The Second Detail by William Forsythe are back on the playbill of the Perm Opera and Ballet Theater.

Choreographers Jiri Kylian and William Forsythe have already taken their places in the world history of ballet. At the same time, for a long time in Russia, you could see their productions only in Moscow or St. Petersburg. Therefore, when in 2012 a non-capital theater got permission to perform these ballets, it became a sensation. This year, the theater is resuming the program that had already brought them to a higher level of performing skills once.

For any ballet company in the world, repertoire is one of the fundamental factors of work. The richer and more diverse it is, the more beneficial it is not only for the audience, but also for the technical improvement of the artists. Jiri Kylian was saving Svadebka (Les Noces, The Wedding) for a very long time giving the right to perform it only to his own theater. Many choreographers were and are still approaching the music by Igor Stravinsky, which became the impetus for the development of ballet in the 20th century. But we can safely say that it was Kylian whose interpretation of Svadebka turned out to be more fascinating than that of the others. 

Kylian has his own unique "handwriting": in all his performances, the body and hands are extremely important; it is from the hands that a kind of impulse is initiated, setting the artist's body in motion. The amplitude of the elements execution is also worth noting: starting with tapping in place, the artist proceeds to symmetrical poses, followed by dance combinations, whose development is difficult to predict. The wide skirts of the women's costumes only enhance the effect of the dance dynamics. Performing Svadebka is not an easy task for ballet dancers as it requires musicality and impeccable control of one's body. That is why the revival of the production is a great creative success for the ballet company of the Perm theater.

The next one-act ballet in the program is The Second Detail by William Forsythe. Two ballets in one evening give you an opportunity to appreciate, by contrast, the genius of each of the choreographers. In William Forsythe’s style, one can catch a glimpse of Balanchine’s neoclassicism, although Forsythe was never his student. But the polish of positions and poses, successive pas, the execution of which requires an incredible mastery of technique from the dancers, reminds of the neoclassicism transferred to the 21st century.

There is no division into corps de ballet and soloists in The Second Detail: every artist has a solo part that allows them to demonstrate their skills. Tight gray costumes, reminding of rehearsal leotards, help make all the lines of the dancer more distinct, but at the same time require impeccable execution. The music by the composer Thom Willems, written especially for this ballet, gives it precision; and the absence of a melody makes the viewer focus on the main thing - the dancing. In which the bodies of the artists seem to have no restrictions: a pirouette may end with a backbend, and a usual side leg position is followed by a change in axis and a sharp transition to the next pas, different from each other like day and night. But at the same time, the movements seem to be connected by an invisible thread and create an unpredictable dance pattern.

William Forsythe said in an interview while working with the Mariinsky Theater:

“I didn’t believe in this union at first, it seemed to be doomed to failure. However, the rehearsals and the premiere proved the viability of the alliance.”

This phrase shows that he considered Russian dancers, who performed the classics perfectly, not exactly fit for his ballets. Therefore, it is doubly pleasant that the choreographer not only changed his mind, which he admitted in the interview, but also continued to cooperate with Russian theaters.