News

Big Changes at Bavarian State Ballet and Staatsballett Berlin

Waltz and Ohman. Photo by Davids/David Dormer via the Berliner.

Big changes are afoot in Germany's ballet scene, including director and dancer turnovers at two of the country's high profile companies.

Staatsballett Berlin

At Staatsballett Berlin, artistic director Nacho Duato will leave at the end of his contract, which expires in 2019. Duato has served as the company's artistic director for the past two years, but it hasn't been smooth sailing. He's faced some harsh criticism, and Staatsballett dancers went on strike over wage disputes under his leadership.

Duato has three years to plan his next move before co-directors Sasha Waltz and Johannes Öhman take over in 2019. Öhman has directed the Royal Swedish Ballet since 2011. Waltz currently leads and choreographs her own contemporary troupe, Sasha Waltz and Guests. She will share her time between the two companies. It's unclear what steps the Royal Swedish Ballet will take when its director assumes executive and administrative responsibilities in Berlin. Waltz's role will be more studio-oriented. She will set one of her works on the company annually and create three world premieres.


Bavarian State Ballet

Meanwhile, in Munich, Igor Zelensky has begun his first season as artistic director of Bavarian State Ballet (Bayerisches Staatsballett). But the company looks a lot different than it did last season under his predecessor, Ivan Liška. That's because a whopping 29 dancers have left the company, including international stars Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino.

A statement released by the company in May declined to say whether the dancers left of their own volition or had been forced out by Zelensky. It's fair to speculate that new leadership and mass dancer exoduses have a cause and effect relationship. For now, we know that many of the departing dancers have careers ahead of them. Lacarra and Dino said in the statement, “We will follow exciting projects and offers, that will take our career to another level, and which will be announced by us briefly."

Bolstering the depleted Bavarian ranks are 10 new dancers, including a new husband-wife star couple who joined as principals: former Mariinsky dancers Maria Shirinkina and Vladimir Shklyarov. Former Norwegian National Ballet principal Osiel Gouneo (a Cuban expatriate with Carlos Acosta-sized talent) has also entered the top rank. Sergei Polunin, who danced under Zelensky at Stanislavsky Ballet, is a new guest artist along with (romantic partner) Natalia Osipova and also Svetlana Zakharova. Unlike the two women, Polunin's guest status is listed as “permanent."

Such major changes inevitably prompt speculation. We'll be waiting for the dust to settle at the Bavarian State Ballet to see how the season progresses, and we look forward to watching how Staatsballett Berlin's dancers will take to Waltz's experimental choreography.

Summer Intensive Survival
Getty Images

There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

Keep reading... Show less
Trending
The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

Keep reading... Show less