From 7 to 18 February, a new triple bill of contemporary choreographers at La Scala
After the success of Alexei Ratmansky's Coppélia La Scala Ballet changes direction abruptly with a triple bill of contemporary works. The company director, Manuel Legris, has selected choreographers who have never worked at La Scala: the American choreographer Garrett Smith and the artistic duo Sol León and Paul Lightfoot; and Simone Valastro will present the world premiere of Memento, created for the La Scala dancers.
The European premiere of Reveal, created for Houston Ballet in 2015 and never before presented outside the United States, is representative of Garrett Smith's style. Smith is an eclectic dancer and choreographer with a large international following. Of his three ‘reflective' ballets linked to the theme of human identity, Reveal – for eight men and four women – focuses on duality in its multiple forms… masculine/feminine, classical/contemporary, and light/shadow. Smith uses the third part of Philip Glass' Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra, and the second movement of Tirol Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. Reveal will be a ‘re-creation', adapted for the abilities of La Scala's company, dressed in Monica Guerra's costumes and under Michael Mazzola's lights.
Skew-Whiff sees three men and a woman dancing to the Overture from Rossini's The Thieving Magpie. Sol León and Paul Lightfoot's piece is “a masterpiece of irony and experimentation on movement”. The pair also designed the sets and costumes, while the lights are by Tom Bevoort. The piece was created for the Nederlands Dans Theater in 1996, and it brings to La Scala for the first time this highly original duo of choreographers who have been working together since 1989, with more than 60 creations for the Nederlands Dans Theater, where they too were dancers, becoming resident choreographers from 2002 to 2020. In the female role Maria Celeste Losa, Alice Mariani, Madoka Sasaki will alternate. Alongside them are Navrin Turnbull, Darius Gramada and Rinaldo Venuti, and Edward Cooper, Gabriele Fornaciari and Saïd Ramos Ponce in alternative casts.
After reviving the duet Árbakkinn for La Scala artists, Simone Valastro now makes a new creation for the company, Memento. Valastro was born in Milan and graduated from the Ballet School of Teatro alla Scala in 1998. He joined the Paris Opera Ballet and made his debut as a choreographer there in 2008. For Valastro, it is a return to the theatre where he studied and graduated, and now creating a new piece with the dancers he involved in his first production, though Memento is larger in scale with over 30 dancers. The abstract work will have music by Max Richter and David Lang with an audio montage as if it were a dialogue between the two composers. Sets and costumes are by Thomas Mika and lighting by Konstantin Binkin. The main couple will be Benedetta Montefiore and Nicola Del Freo, with various pas de deux performed by Linda Giubelli with Marco Agostino, Antonella Albano with Claudio Coviello, Gioacchino Starace with Frank Aduca (alternating with Mattia Semperboni and Domenico Di Cristo), a solo by Saïd Ramos Ponce, and many ensemble moments.
7, 9, 10, 15, 16, 18 February 2024
SMITH /LEN by LIGHTFOOT / VALASTRO
Choreography Garrett Smith
Assistant choreographers Jessica Collado, Maude Sabourin
Music Philip Glass
Costumes Monica Guerra
Lighting Michael Mazzola
Choreography, sets and costumes by Sol León and Paul Lightfoot
Assistant choreographer Jorge Nozal
Music Gioachino Rossini
Lights Tom Bevoort
Production AT&T Danstheater, The Hague, 1996
Choreography Simone Valastro
Music Max Richter – David Lang
Sets and costumes Thomas Mika
Lights Konstantin Binkin
Corps de Ballet of Teatro alla Scala
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.