At the July world premiere of his Anna Karenina at the Hamburg Ballet, John Neumeier showed that his craft for storytelling is among the best. Highlighting the stunning technique and dramatic strengths of his dancers, Neumeier thrust the audience into an emotional whirlwind as powerful and varying as Tolstoy's prose.
Laudere and Revazov in "Anna Karenina." Photo by Kiran West, Courtesy Hamburg Ballet.
The work's eclectic musical selections make the full-length ballet read like an interwoven triple bill; the arranged score by Tchaikovsky is sliced open and injected with moments of atonal music by Alfred Schnittke, or redirected on a meandering stroll with recorded Cat Stevens songs. Principal dancer Anna Laudere was particularly fascinating in the title role with long and expressive limbs, feet as articulate as hands, and eyes brimming with her character's unquenchable guilt and longing. Her real-life partner Edvin Revazov was an elegant and austere Vronsky, and Aleix Martínez and Emilie Mazoń portrayed young lovers Levin and Kitty with heart-rending honesty and abandon.