BALLET2000’s Special New Year Issue, is on the newsstands now. It looks back on a year in dance with, says editor Alfio Agostini,
…the best shows, trendiest dancers, most significant companies and most creative choreographers.
Each work illustrated is accompanied by a short description by one of the magazine’s international dance journalists. These mini-reviews make this special number a great way to catch up on those missed special moments from 2016.
The depicted – or rather, photographed – image that emerges isn’t a museum piece or a “memory lane” souvenir, but one that is going to be reflected during the incipient year. If the landmark events of an art – even of an art-in-movement such as this – are neither haphazard nor casual, what the present year has in store for us can, by and large, be presaged from the following pages (equally, though, it goes without saying that we’re always hoping some artist or other will also surprise us).
Here are some highlights:
In August 2016 Italian ballerina Carla Fracci turned 80, admitting to her age with profound simplicity. She continues to tread the dancing boards and to be a popular national symbol for Italians who also watched a hilarious imitation of her at the Sanremo Song Festival which she, with elegance and a sense of humour, applauded and appreciated. Nevertheless, while the Teatro San Carlo in Naples devoted an evening to mark her 80th birthday, which included Fracci herself dancing a custom-made piece by Giuseppe Picone, the friction between Fracci and her home-theatre, La Scala, Milan seems to know no end. As a tribute to the ballerina, it seems that the Milanese theatre merely invited her to watch a performance of Giselle – an invitation which Fracci, offended, declined.
[Alessandra Ferri] is still THE Juliet to whom one looks, who ennobles the choreography with her dramatic and flowing presence, who is still able to blow us away; at age 53 she has acquired greater awareness and generosity. Thus she is able to live her renewed career joyously, surpassing herself with her chosen partner of today, the impeccable virtuoso Herman Cornejo, a snazzy 35-year-old Romeo. (Elisa Guzzo Vaccarino)
There is no doubt that Van Manen is the planet’s most important and artistically-influential living choreographer, with a significant stockpile of works in the repertoires of companies all over the world. In Metaforen, set to the refined music of French composer Jean Yves Daniël-Lesur, Van Manen was the first of the modern European choreographers to explore the potential of a male duet. (Roger Salas)
2016 was also an important year for this magazine. After a gap of a few years, the Prix BALLET2000 resumed at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes (France). An international jury made up of dance critics who contribute to BALLET2000 honoured prominent dancers from the world’s major companies, namely: Aurélie Dupont, former étoile of the Paris Opéra Ballet and the company’s newly-appointed director, who performed alongside Alessio Carbone, also from the Opéra; Diana Vishneva, star with the Mariinsky of St Petersburg and American Ballet Theatre; Friedemann Vogel of the Stuttgart Ballet. (Dupont, Vishneva and Vogel received the special Maya Prize, conceived as a tribute to Maya Plisetskaya who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Prize at the first edition of this event in Cannes, 2004.) Other awardees included: Vladimir Shklyarov (Mariinsky), Anjara Ballestreros (Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo), Davide Dato (Vienna Opera Ballet), Maewa Cotton and Alessio Passaquindici (Ballet Nice Méditerranée), Oscar Chacón and Kateryna Shalkina (Béjart Ballet Lausanne), Osiel Gouneo (Bavarian State Ballet, Munich), Sergio Bernal (Ballet Nacional de España), Virna Toppi and Jacopo Tissi (Teatro alla Scala, Milan). A special token of recognition went to Forceful Feelings, a group of Armenian dancers who are scattered in various international companies. Hans van Manen, one of the major figures of modern choreography in Europe, took the Lifetime Achievement Prize.
Prix BALLET2000 will now be held every two years, with its next edition scheduled in 2018.
A hideous idea. Instead of promoting the Staatsballett, the Berlin Opera House’s excellent troupe, moves are underway to ruin it. When director Nacho Duato’s contract runs out, in 2019, this important ballet company is to be entrusted to the leadership of Sasha Waltz and Johannes Öhman who have been designated as joint artistic directors. Apart from the fact that such dual leadership rarely works, it seems ridiculous to entrust an 80-strong ensemble of classical ballet dancers to a choreographer of contemporary theatre-dance like Waltz who has always worked with small groups in this genre. There was no reason why she should not instead have been called in to produce a new creation per season: but Berlin’s Socialist mayor, Michael Müller, probably dazzled by Sasha Waltz’s charisma, is disregarding the protests that have come pelting in – not only from the dancers themselves, but also from the 20,000 signees (from the dance world) of a petition against this decision. (Jean Pierre Pastori)
Ballet200o is published in three editions: Italian, English and French. Print editions are sold at newsagents and by subscription all over the world; the digital edition is available on Apple Store, Google Play, Amazon etc and on their website : www.ballet2000.com
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.