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Royal Ballet of Flanders season 2005/2006

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The Royal Ballet of Flanders announced its schedule for the 2005/2006 season, the first under new director Kathryn Bennets.

- Perfect Gems, October 6: "In The Night" (Robbins), "The Grey Area" (Dawson), "Theme and Variations" (Balanchine).

- "Impressing the Czar", December 1 (Forsythe).

- Dynamic Dances, February 16: a creation by Douglas Lee, "Revelry" (Hill), "Ancient Airs and Dances" (Tanner).

- Uncontainable, April 20: project for young up-and-coming choreographers.

- The Sleeping Beauty (Haydée, after Petipa).

Dutch company Introdans will guest in October with ballets by Hans van Manen and Nils Christe.

Some notes: where it is required a "real" orchestra will provide musical support - a relief, something we haven't seen happening for quite some time in this company.

Re performing venues: A much better use of differing theatres has been made and not everything is relegated to the tiny home-theatre of the company.

"The Sleeping Beauty" staged by Robert Denvers after Nureyev's version some five years ago seems to have been dumped in favor of Haydée's. We might regret being harsh on the old Denvers production, after all... :mellow:

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Marc, there was an interesting interview with Kathryn Bennetts in the weekly "Knack", beginning this month. Under the title "Dans is iets intuïtiefs", the interviewer -Paul Demets- tries to discover the new wind that's going through the company. Bennetts talks about the one-sided view that the public overhere has about ballet and the big gap between classical and contemporary dance. She has been talking with Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker about an eventual cooperation...(oh dear ! :rolleyes: )

It's not a secret that the company will loose some of the dancers, as is common with the installment of a new director and she will wait a while to fill-in Aysem Sunal's place.

The good news is -as you already told us : the orchestra will return !!! In the new season this will be for the Balanchine & Robbins opening-programme (Perfect gems) and 'Sleeping Beauty'. Irine Russo, an Antwerp pianist, will perform Chopin. We will get introductions to some of the performances and guided tours, while young dancers (from 16y on) will be able to attend workshops with Jan Nuyts (the co-director).

Bennetts will also take the company more abroad (I guess further away than The Netherlands ???) and the international competition "Uncontainable" for young choreographers will give another input to the dancers and helps to provide a lifely structure to the company.

And... they'll become -at last- a REAL "Flanders" ballet : the season opens in Ghent ! :wink: WOW !

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Kathryn Bennetts sees a big gap between classical and contemporary dance overhere. She reckon this gap is not as wide in other countries. The fact that the company is called "ballet" gives a too one-sided picture to the public.

The company can cope with many different styles and she finds that audiences that only saw contemporary dance in this country have missed out on an important part of the evolution in the balletworld. She will try to make the answer to this.

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Thanks for letting us know about the "too one-sided view," Viviane (and it's wonderful to read you again!) I look forward to hearing how the new director fares.

I'm also curious -- do you have a sense of the audience there, and how subscribers feel about The Gap? (Are they mostly ballet fans grumbly at contemporary fare, or contempos sick of toe shoes and tiaras? Or represent a broad range of tastes?)

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And... they'll become -at last- a REAL "Flanders" ballet : the season opens in Ghent ! :wink:  WOW !

I was intrigued by this statement. I know that there's some linguistic and other divisions in Belgium between the Flemish and Waloon portions of the country, but does this carry over into dance as well?

What is is "Flanders" ballet as opposed to other kinds of ballet? Does this have to do with style, audience, dancers? Is there a "Wallonie" ballet company?

What about Brussels? Is there any integrated company representing the entire country? It seems that, in the past, Belgium imported foreign companies to serve as the "national" company (Bejart, Morris). Is this an incorrect perception?

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Thanks Alexandra, it's simply too hot outside....so I was a bit wandering around on the Net :wink: and ofcourse I'm very curious to follow the developments of our only ballet-troupe ! So, don't worry I'll keep you all updated and I'm sure Marc will made more in-depth comments :rolleyes:

I agree with Bennetts on her point about the 'gap'. At certain levels and in certain 'environments' there is a huge gap between ballet and contemporary dance. Among the general public I would say it's due to not-knowing and/or lack of interest in what's happening in the whole dance-world. On companies and dancers-level I have felt sometimes a lack of respect ! Yes I know, how bad to say that :dry:

A lot of the companies are heavy subsidised and how tighter the official budget becomes, the harder the competition. And if I say that the ballet got most of the money for years it explains a lot. Since a lot of contemporary companies are widely reknown and admired (Parts, les Ballets C de la B, Ultima Vez, to name but a few) the pression on the only remained balletcompany in the country is very high. Some politicians even asked themselves in public the reason of existence of a balletcompany !

Overhere you see ballet OR contemporary : that's the vision of the largest part of the audience. Maybe the different age-groupes that attend performances are also an indication for the problem ?

That the Royal Ballet of Flanders has a broad neo-classical and contemporary repertoire is something that's hardly known outside the "ballet-walls"

Filling the gap is impossible and not at the order I think, but I'm interested to see how Bennetts will build bridges between parties !

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Bart, please take the statement about the 'real' ballet of Flanders with a wink ! It's very uncommon that the Antwerp-based balletcompany opens it's season in Ghent :wink: We have a splendid, little operahouse overhere and I prefer it far above the cool and dated Stadsschouwburg in Antwerp or their house-stage. Although carrying the name 'flanders' they mostly perform in Antwerp with some exceptions for other towns. The reason we can find mainly in lack of good accommodation, but since Bruges has the perfect venue for ballet....I wonder why they aren't appearing their ?!

The linguistic differences are also felt in dance I'm afraid...not on the level of dance-quality or talent ofcourse but it's all about the money ! Our Royal ballet of Flanders is subsidised by the Flemish government and performs in Flemish towns...

Le Ballet de la Wallonie doesn't exist anymore, but the task of major-dance company in the French speaking part has been taken up by the contemporary comp. "Charleroi Danse".

There is not a kind of company representing the entire country.

The situation in Brussels is different. It was the direction of the "De Munt"theatre in Brussels that invited Béjart and gave him all the chances to develop his artistry.

Béjart got so wellknown overhere ànd worldwide, that he became the symbol of dance in our country. When he left (after a row with Gérard Mortier, the new Munt-director at that time and now Director of the Paris Opéra) there was the need to fill the 'gap' and Mortier invited Morris.

Currently Anna Teresa de Keersmaecker's company "PARTS" is the 'company in residence' at the Munt...although some would like to hear it, I wouldn't call 'Parts' the company who represents Belgium ! :dry:

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Bart, I realize our Belgian situation is for any foreigner hard, if not impossible to understand, but it is still a fact that Belgium has been cut in two because of several problems of which the language is only the most obvious one. Cultural matters in Belgium are now ruled by the respective governments and parliaments of this country, basically Flemish and Walloon.

The Royal Ballet of Flanders is the only surviving ballet company in our country. We used to have a company in the French-speaking part of the country, but that disappeared because of lack of funds and interest, and Viviane is right to point out that a similar danger continually lurks for Flanders. Contemporary dance with its marvellous, mind-blowing ambassadors of the calibre of De Keersmaker, Fabre, or Ultima Vez is trendy and cool (although those who think so, often leave in mid-performance); classical ballet still defended by the RB of Flanders is considered past and gone food for oldtimers.

Bennetts is surely right to talk about a gap, but I'm curious how she will make ends meet.

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Hello again Viviane!

I had the pleasure of meeting both Marc and Viviane in Bruges. I saw swans, but alas no ballet in Belgium - I saw it in neighboring countries.

Bart, the interesting thing for an American who visits Belgium is that from the inside the country looks more like two countries (Flanders and Wallonie) with two separate governments and bureaucracies that present a single face to the outside world. I'm not sure I know yet what a "Belgian" is!

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My favorite moment of the trip was when we were walking back towards the train station in Bruges and we went past a couple who sounded to me if they were talking a Slavic language with a Spanish accent.

I turned to Marc and asked him what language they were speaking. "None I know!" he said (and Marc knows several).

Viviane started to laugh. "They're speaking Flemish! But it's in the local dialect!"

Marc lives in Ghent, which is about 30 minutes from Bruges. If I am correct, Flemish is his native tongue.

We have regional accents here, but it amazed me how little distance you need to travel in Europe to encounter them.

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Not to mention the institutions for the German-speaking part of the country.

Sorry to be so rude to break into your conversation like this, but I didn't even know Belgium had a German speaking region! And I live right next door... :blush:

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