Bayerisches Staatsballett II, presented by the Hong Kong Arts Festival at the Lyric Theatre at HKAPA, Hong Kong. February 21, 2017

The program presented by the Bayerisches Staatsballett II for the Hong Kong Arts Festival consisted of four parts. The first performance entitled, Allegro Brillante entailed the choreography of George Balanchine performed by soloists Bianca Teixeira and Francesco Leone, set to the music of Piotr Llyich Tchaikovsky.


This exuberant work is true to Balanchine’s genius and portrays “an expansive Russian romanticism”, according to Maria Tallchief for whom the leading role was crafted.

Jardi Tancat the second of the works presented was a beautifully conceived production with choreography by Spanish born, Nacho Duato, music from Catalonia by Maria del Mar Bonet and lighting design by Nicholas Fischtel. The work, which borrows musically from Catalonian legends, takes visual reference from the daily life of regional farmers.


Mr. Duato, who had once accompanied Jiri Kylian at the Netherlands Dans Theater in The Hague, retains a modern stylistic approach in this work, using a perimeter of vertical posts of assorted heights to define the stage boundary and provide points at which performers could take pause, as they assume postures reminiscent of Picasso paintings of the Blue Period. This feature gave the work a minimalist visual presence, which balanced wonderfully with the rich flowing movement of the dancer’s costumes.


A third work entitled, 3 Preludes (Prelude I, Prelude II: Blue Lullaby, Prelude III: Spanish Prelude and Rialto Ripples) choreographed by Richard Siegal was a lively and refreshing dance accompanied by the music of George Gershwin. The lighting design by Christian Kass and costume design by Susanne Stehle provided a sexy, ballroom dance atmosphere for the work, which brought to mind the stage musical, West Side Story. The mix, an energetic ballet featuring three men and a woman was a brilliant combination of movements evoking drama and seductive gesture.


The final work for the evening was the historically significant Triadic Ballet from Oskar Schlemmer. This Bauhaus era work was choreographically reconstructed by Gerhard Bohner in 1977 and recreated for this staging by Ivan Liška and Colleen Scott. It was produced in cooperation with the Akademie der Künste Berlin and Bayerisches Staatsballett München with Production Manager Bettina Wagner-Bergelt.


The colorful costumes were constructed 3D structures made with seemingly metallic or ceramic surfaces. They are boldly geometric and captivating in their use of form and reflected light to augment the often-times minimally prescribed choreography. The movement was often very circumscribed consisted of hand and head gestures, spiraling rotations, or leg movements due to the restrictive nature of the costumes. Unfortunately, the music accompaniment to this performance from Hans-Joachim Hespos was neither historically relevant, nor conductive to the whimsical quality of the performance.


Instead it was often intense and staccato, creating a neurotic and disturbing ambiance not in character with the work presented. The original musical accompaniment, which we are told from the program notes included assorted pieces from Tarenghi, Bossi, Debussy, Haydn, Mozart, Paradies, Galuppi and Handel were not employed due to Gerhard Bohner’s assessment that Schlemmer wished that the music be written by a contemporary composer. A better choice in light of this constraint might have been the work of the musicians Robert Fripp and Brian Eno who at least share a light and sometimes humorous element in their work.

Overall this evening’s performance was memorable. It is a rare balance of elements that weave together to form an enjoyable presentation.


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