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Small German companies


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#1 Estelle

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 12:40 PM

Diane, could you tell us a bit more about those ballet German companies? It's a bit fascinating for me to see that in Germany there are so many ballet, operas and orchestras, by contrast to the very centralized situation in France... But the French press seldom talks about the German cultural scene. So it'd be interesting to know in which German cities there still are some ballet companies, what kind of repertory they're dancing, etc.

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 09:44 AM

Thank you for that, Diane. I'd love to hear more about the "rather obscure-seeming, original works using a largely classical ballet vocabulary." That's what we don't have much of here, and what we do have is usually very derivative -- watered down Balanchine.

#3 diane

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 08:50 AM

(Edited by Estelle: I've copied those messages from the thread about "Sibley on the contemporary repertory".)

- A bit late here, but.....

;)
I like Mr. Johnson's remark.

There are several brave, lonely artistic-directors (which usually also means "chief choreographer" in the smaller ballet companies) here in Germany who hang onto the classical ballet tradition with an admirable tenacity.
They are generally ignored - at best - by the critics; and can only hope to stay in their jobs, a chance for "advancement" to a larger theatre is not possible without critical aclaim and the subsequent support by politicians.

The Zeitgeist is not in favor of classical ballet.

:)
-diane-

#4 diane

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 07:35 AM

Estelle, I am trying to research a bit in order to be able to tell you more.

The companies which I know personally are in Wiesbaden and Koblenz.
These are relatively small companies; Wiesbaden has around 30 or so dancers, Koblenz only about twenty or even less.
They do both classical and neo-classical work, but the tendency is towards classical.
That is what the ballet-going audience usually wants.

Many of the much smaller theatres have been cut back so much in recent years - down to eight dancers or so - that to attempt a classical (story) ballet would be totally illusory.
So they ditch the classical altogether and go for tanztheater or perhaps "modern" dance, which is a catch-all phrase for anything not ballet and not pure acrobatics or musical-theatre. Some of these companies refuse to take part in operettas or musicals, further damaging their already tentative status in the eyes of those who hold the money-bags.
;)
Naturally it is not easy to put on ballets with so few dancers.
With thirty or so it can be done pretty well; everyone dances a LOT.
But with just sixteen to twenty dancers, it is much harder.
Then it is sometimes possible for the director to be able to hire dancers just for one production; taking perhaps five months of the season of ten and a half months.

The pieces done range from rather obscure-seeming, original works using a largely classical ballet vocabulary, to Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, La Fille mal Gardeé, Giselle and even Swan Lake, though that is not at all easy with so few dancers.

From other companies I only know what I have been told or have read.
I'll keep looking and report back when/if I have found anything I deem interesting enough. :)

-diane-

#5 Estelle

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 01:26 PM

Thanks for the information, Diane. I had never heard about the Koblenz and Wiesbaden companies... Here the best known German companies are those of Frankfurt (because of Forsythe) and of Hamburg (because of Neumeier), and to a lesser extent those of Munich, Berlin and Leipzig, but other companies really are unknown. Please if you find more information about them (their current repertories, their artistic directors, etc.) tell us more! Do they only perform in their home towns, or do they tour to other German cities? Are the working conditions good for the dancers (for example are they paid all year long)?

What you wrote about some companies turning into modern companies because they don't have enough dancers to perform ballets really makes sense to me, unfortunately it happened to several French companies. :) Indeed it must be quite hard for those ballet masters to continue working in spite of the lack of money and media attention.

#6 diane

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 01:42 AM

I will try to find out more about repertoires, directors, etc.

As to the working conditions:
These are usually similar in most companies I know of.
The dancers have year-round contracts, with about six weeks off - usually paid - during the summer.
They usually do not tour in the sense that American co.s tour; but they may have "day-trips" to smaller, nearby cities with an opera-house or theatre but no resident company.

The bigger companies do sometimes tour, but most often to other countries. :)
That is why it is hard for those of us in the "boondocks" to see much of anything.

The pay depends on how big the budget of that particular theatre is, and on the compromises made between unions and cities. (For soloists it sometimes also seems to depend on the negotiating skills of the dancer...)

The companies are, as far as I know, all almost completely supported by cities and state.

So, I shall report back when I have found out more. :)

-diane-

#7 CDM

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 10:41 AM

Originally posted by Estelle
Here the best known German companies are those of Frankfurt (because of Forsythe) and of Hamburg (because of Neumeier), and to a lesser extent those of Munich, Berlin and Leipzig, but other companies really are unknown.  


Estelle, may I assume that the above is not inclusive of the Stuttgart Ballet? I think I am confused by the absolute nature of the statement.

Regards...Doug.

#8 Estelle

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 10:53 AM

CDM, oh yes, I had forgotten to mention the Stuttgart Ballet (and perhaps I should have added that it is my own impression, but perhaps some other French ballet fans might have different impressions), sorry for the mistake. And also to some extent the Dusseldorf Ballet and the Dresden Ballet. But if I remember correctly, the only German companies that tour regularly to France are those of Frankfurt and Hamburg (and more recently the Leipzig Ballet which came several times to the theater of Saint-Quentin en Yvelines near Paris), and that probably explains partly why they're better known that the others (and also that their respective directors have choreographed some ballets for the POB).

Diane, thanks for the additional information.

By the way, I remember reading that more and more POB school students learnt German at school (instead of Spanish which is a bit more common as a second language in French high schools) because there were more employment opportunities for them (if they aren't accepted into the POB) in German companies than in Spanish ones!

#9 CDM

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 11:14 AM

Estelle...thanks much. I was even further confused in that there was a question in a different thread about the Stuttgart Ballet USA tour that is to begin later this month to which there have been to date exactly zero responses. All of which was making me wonder if the Stuttgart Ballet was but a myth. I trust that is not so.

Thanks and regards...Doug.

#10 Watermill

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 11:31 AM

Oregon Ballet Theatre's Principal Katarina Svetlova is leaving for Dusseldorf at the end of this season. A loss for OBT, but maybe as SFB lets go of principals, new OBT AD Christpher Stowell can replace her. Dusseldorf will enjoy this gorgeous ballerina.

#11 diane

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 06:15 AM

:D O.K. This is the beginning of a serious attempt to
1. list the smaller companies in Germany, and
2. tell a bit about them.

So far, I have only gotten up to "E" in the alphabetical listing of theatres .... and so far only to _list_ them: where they are, the population (if I know it), the director, and the number of dancers, plus the style they dance, IF I know that. ;)

Here goes:
Augsburg. Near Munich, in southern Germany, 258,000 pop. 11 dancers. Style unknown to me.

Bielefeld, mid-north of the country. Pop. 306,000. City theater. Ballet director: Philip Lansdale. 11 dancers. Mainly classical, neo-classical, I believe.

Bonn. In the west, Rheinland. Pop. about 310,000. The dance co. is called "choreographic ensemble", led by Pavel Mikulastik. There are 18 dancers. The style is unknown to me.

Braunschweig. Somewhere in the vicinity of northern-middle Germany.
pop. 260,000. Henning Paar ist the ballet director and chief choreographer. There appear to be 16 dancers. The style is unknown to me.

Bremen, north-west Germany. 539,000 population. They do Tanztheater; have done for many years. Urs Dietrich is the current director/chief choreographer. There are about 11 dancers.

Bremerhaven, also in the north-west part. 120,000 people. Jörg Mannes is the Balletdirector. They have only 8 full-time dancers, with about 5 more part-time (probably for one production). Style: unknown.

Chemnitz: former east Germany. There was not a listing for the population. Ballet dir. and chief choreo.: Thorsten Händler. 24 dancers. Probably more classical; just because they have more dancers... and they still call themselves "ballet company", but I am not - yet - sure.

Coburg. Southern. Pop. 44,000. Ballet-dir.: Mike Salomon. 10 dancers.

Cottbus, former east. 105,000 population. Balletmaster and choreo: Michael Apel. 8 dancers.

Darmstadt, middle-west Germany. (southwest of Frankfurt) Pop. 136,000.
Dance-director: Brigitte Trommler. About 11 full-time dancers. Style: dance-theatre, modern.

Dessau, former east. 80,000 population. Ballet dir. and chief choreo.: Gonzalo Galguera. 19 full-time and 2 part-time (probably student) dancers.

Detmold, North-Rhein area, west. About 70,000 population. Ballet dir.: Richard Lowe. 9 dancers. Style: unknown to me.

Dortmund, north-west, Rheinland. 596,000 population. Zoltan Ravasz is the organisator and leader of the ballet, as well as main trainer. 22 dancers. I believe the style is mainly classical.... ?

Dresden, former east. Pop. 550,000. Ballet dir.: Vladimir Derevianko. Boris Eifman is listed as the choreographer. They have about sixty dancers. This is NOT a smaller German company!
(I am only mentioning it because it is possible ;) that many outside of Germany have never heard of them.)
There is another company in Dresden which does mainly operettas. They have a ballet co. - probably just for that. I do not know if they also do other things.

State Theatres of Sachsen, in Radebeul near Dresden.
Reiner Feistel is the ballet dir. There are about 13 dancers.
Style: unknown to me.

Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf and Duisburg has a company of about 47. Director is Youri Vamos. They do mainly classical, neo-classical, I believe?

Eisenach, in Thuringen. Population: ? Ballet direction and choreographie:
Sabine Pechuel-Loesche. 10 dancers. Style: unknown.

Essen. About pop. 620,000. The ballet co. is called, "Aalto Ballett Theater Essen" The director is Prof. Martin Putke. Choreographers are listed as Boris Eifman, Sergej Gordiyenko, Kurt Joos, Birgit Scherzer, Mario Schröder, Heinz Spörli, Jose de Udaeta, Eva Zamazolova. 25 dancers and 6 "apprentices".

I will continue this list at a later date, when I have some more time.
:D
-d-

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 06:38 AM

Wow! Thank you, Diane -- this is a thread we'll turn to again and again, I'm sure. Ballett-tanz magazine has a calendar on line of performances in Europe, and I'm always amazed at the number of companies listed. Thanks for giving me a context for that info!


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