"Steps & Times" - Première at the Bavarian State Ballet on December 22, 2011

Frederick Ashton created Scènes de ballet in 1948 for the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, which is known today as the Royal Ballet, one of the world’s most elite ballet companies. Until his death, Ashton considered this piece his masterwork. Barely 25 minutes long, Scènes de ballet captivates the audience with simple elegance and virtuous, sublimely structured classical dance set to Stravinsky’s witty neoclassicism. The main focus of the ballet is the principal ballerina and her cavalier. They are accompanied by a corps de ballet of twelve female dancers, all of them bejewelled and dressed in tutus, as well as four male dancers.

In 1976, Frederick Ashton created a choreographic miniature meant as an homage to Isadora Duncan to five waltzes by Johannes Brahms. Duncan, an icon of modern dance, broke with the rigid aesthetics of ballet, bare footed and dressed in a Greek style tunica – a piece of clothing that makes no effort to conceal the distinct attributes of the female body. Ashton allows the soloist to explore passionate outbursts of emotion, while keeping the overall structure of the piece by implementing clear themes in each section.

The Voices of Spring Pas de deux, choreographed in 1977 to the waltz of the same name by Johannes Strauss equals Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan in its dynamic approach: fast-paced choreography, infused with spectacular lifts - Voices of Spring puts the audience in a gala state of mind.

Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth has become an indispensable part of international ballet repertory. Shortly after its premiere in 1965, it was obvious that a masterpiece of historic importance was at hand. MacMillan’s choreographic language is based on classical dance. In Song of the Earth, his choreography blends seamlessly with the lyric content of Mahler’s composition of the same name. In a narrative manner, without gravitating towards traditional story telling, MacMillan creates luscious emotional landscapes inspired by the songs "About Youth" and "About Beauty". Three predominant characters reoccur throughout the work: ‘the man’, ‘the woman’ and ‘the messenger of death’. With the help of Mahler’s score, MacMillan reflects on life, death and the hope for transcendence.

The premiere includes performances by Daria Sukhorukova and Maxim Chashchegorov as the principal couple in Scènes des ballet and Stephanie Hancox as Isadora Duncan in Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan. Ashton’s Voices of Spring will be performed by Lukáš Slavický and guest dancer Katherina Markowskaja. Lucia Lacarra, Tigran Mikayelyan and Marlon Dino, the original cast of 2007, will portray the central characters of ‘the man’, ‘the woman’ and ‘the messenger of death’ in Song of the Earth.
The conductor of the evening will be the highly regarded opera- and concert conductor, Ryusuke Numajiri. He has been the music director of the Biwako Opera in Japan since 2007. Numajiri’s guest engagements include the Montréal Symphony Orchestra, the German Symphony Orchestra Berlin, the Sydney Symphony, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and others. He made his debut as conductor for the Bavarian State Ballet in 2007.
Mezzo soprano Heike Grötzinger and tenor Bernhard Berchtold will be the vocal soloists for Song of the Earth.

Frederick Ashton / Kenneth MacMillan
Steps & Times
Th 22.12.11, 7:30 pm Premiere
Fr 23.12.11, 7:30 pm
Wed 28.12.11, 7:30 pm
Wed 04.01.11, 7:30 pm

For press tickets, photo materials and further inquiries, please contact the press department of the Bavarian State Ballet.

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