After theatres were forced to close their doors three months ago, in Italy there is some tentative nudging to open them creating a chink of hope.
As with the Arena in Verona, Pesaro and other summer Festivals that are putting on concerts or semi-staged presentations, Daniele Cipriani's dance gala for the Ravenna Festival is a sign that art and artists are still with us. With a fraction of the audience capacity available (200 instead of 800 seats available), these are obviously events that say, “Good times and bum times, I've seen them all and, my dear, I'm still here.”
As it says on the label, Duets and Solos will be just that, with duets and pas de deux made possible by having couples on stage who are couples in life. Social distancing rules obeyed both on stage and in the auditorium.
The Italian impresario Cipriani thought of this solution when watching couples sitting close while dining in a restaurant in Rome. So Silvia Azzoni and Alexander Ryabko (Hamburg Ballet, she's Italian, he's Ukrainian), and Iana Salenko and Marian Walter (Berlin Ballet, she's Ukrainian, he's German), will enjoy lifts and embraces, maybe with more intensity and poignancy than at the beginning of this surreal year.
Two musicians of note, pianist Beatrice Rana and cellist Mario Brunello, will provide live music for French danseur Hugo Marchand from the Paris Opéra Ballet, the Italian ballerino Matteo Miccini from the Stuttgart Ballet and Spanish bailarín Sergio Bernal, formerly a member of the Ballet Nacional de España.
A modern male Dying Swan solo by Ricardo Cue and interpreted by Sergio Bernal, will be seen alongside Fokine's traditional Dying Swan danced by Iana Salenko. Bernal will of course dazzle in one of his zapateado that Italian audiences have come to expect.
Matteo Miccini will perform a solo from Edward Clug's 2012 piece Ssss…, and Marchand will dance Robbins' Suite of Dances, a ballet originally created for Mikhail Baryshnikov. An all-male couple will dance Folia de Caballeros, a pas de deux by Bernal and Joaquin De Luz in which the two “caballeros” perform a socially-distanced dance, without ever touching.
Salenko and Walter will dance Roland Petit's Thaïs while Azzoni and Ryabko will perform Neumeier's Nocturnes as well as Scholz's Sonate.
The purely musical offerings on the programme include the Quadrille for cello and piano (from the second act of the opera Not Love Alone) by Rodion Shchedrin, and Beatrice Rana will also play Aria (from Bach's Goldberg Variations) and La Valse by Ravel.
Despite social distancing in Ravenna, this will be an evening when many can come together once more. Like Princess Aurora, with the spell now broken, we can wake from a long sleep on a magical midsummer night.
18 July 2020 at 9.30 pm at the Rocca Brancaleone as part of the Ravenna Festival
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.