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Royal Ballet of Flanders season 2003-2004

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The Royal Ballet of Flanders announced its 2003-2004 season. As usual there are three different programs.

A new work for the company will be Petipa's "La Bayadère" (in the version by A-M. Holmes), to be premiered in Antwerp in February 2004. There will be a revival of Prokovsky's production of "The Nutcracker", and a triple bill with "Circle of Fifths" from Christopher d'Amboise, and creations by house choreographer Danny Rosseel and by Mauricio Wainrot.


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Royal Ballet of Flanders, triple bill "Circles & Mind Games"

08th November 2003 - Opera of Ghent.

Although the new balletseason started at the end of September, I only managed to see the opening triple bill last Saturday in Ghent.

Before the summerbreak all kind of rumours reached me about lots of dancers leaving the company due to internal disputes.

I already knew that Agalie Van Damme left for 'Les Ballets de Monte Carlo', Jeroen Verbruggen and others changed cold Belgium for more sunshine in Madrid.

As always the company kept silent, no official statements wether it is concerning leaving and new members or about the appointment of a new Artistic Director for the 2004-2005 season.

So I was pretty curious to find out who had left. Leavers seemed to be most from the half-soloist and corps de ballet-rank, the principals and first soloists made no changes. But with a total of +/-14 (most male-dancers) I was anxious to see how the company was looking now !

And I can't wait to say : they looked marvellous and even more coherent ! The biggest surprise being the return of Geneniève Van Quaquebeke. She spent 3 years in Monaco and was now -stronger as ever- back on stage in her home-town.

The evening was filled with 3 dancepieces based on contemporary music.

The openingnumber "Journey", choreographed by Mauricio Wainrot on intriguing music (Harmonielehre) by John Adams, was seen as an hommage to the dancers of the Royal Ballet of Flanders and their Director, Robert Denvers. Since 1991, Wainrot is working with them on a regular base.

On an assymetric divided stage (a slightly higher stage on the left) Wainrot introduced us into a competitive (apathic ?) man/woman-world. The dancing -clearly based on strength- was rather a confrontation between the sexes than an unision and the highly ritmic music created the right atmosphere. Apart from an impressive duet from Aki Saito and Priit Kripson I can't remember any 'slightly' emotional sign. This duet was perfectly placed -after a complete silence- and gained on impact thanks to that.

I found it a high demanding choreography and the 18 dancers were -as always- perfectly trained. Some of the dancers -who moved up in rank since the last season- were a delight. It was good to see a coherent and strong group but I left again with that undestined feeling that these dancers need a worldclass choreography to do themselves justice.

House-choreographer Danny Rosseel served us "Unveiled senses" on (violin) music by Peter Sculthorpe.

So far, I think Rosseel used all possible home-attributes in his work. This time the focus was an oversized -immaculate white- sofa on a black square background and 3 ballerinas : Ninon Neyt, Joëlle Auspert and Miho Akahane.

These 3 'femmes fatales' in black minimal-dresses with high-split skirts (lined in red,blue & green), played an entertaining "toned legs"-game. Starting from a cosy place they discover the environment and the others, music and dancing creates a field of tension between them but a rapprochement seems impossible.

All by all, I only remember the dramatic lighted sofa and legs, legs, legs.... an entertaining piece but nothing more.

"Circle of Fifths" was supposed to be the highlight of the evening.

Created in 1997 by Christopher d'Amboise for the NYCB on a violinconcerto by Philip Glass.

It was the first time this neo-classical creation was staged in Europe.

Atleticism was my first thought : close-fitting leotards with slightly piped trousers for the ladies , leggings and prés-du-corps t-shirts for the men. The ritmic music, evoking lots of jumps and running underlined this thought. The use of space was great and sometimes surprising and I was quite impressed by the trios and ensemble-dancing. But I found more sensitivity in the music (which is great !) and I couldn't find this on stage, it made me feel like an alien :P

I certainly missed something here ! OK, pointe-work was rather marginal and I missed more fluent movement. In recent years I seriously get annoyed by that 'breaking of movement', that 'dissecting' of movement and using ballet-elements as choreographic elements on their own (like the battements). I hope I can express myself here the right way ?

But...but : the dancers were marvellous ! I bet an uninformed spectator would immediately try to find out who this company is :wink:

This performance was another proof that they find their way into the neoclassical rather than struggling with amputated classics. Geneviève was great and impressive, she gained so much force, real professionalism ! : so good to have her back :D

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