We begin our journey to another chapter of our existence under the direction of our new Intendant Peter Theiler. With fresh creative impulses and inspiration, we are currently building together an artistic plan for the Semperoper Ballett over the next three seasons. I will continue commissioning new creations for our company, introduce new choreographers – both from the past and present – and strengthen already existing relationships with choreographers well known to our house.
We have two exciting premieres, the first of which on November 3rd 2018 is »Labyrinth«. This is a diverse mixed bill opening with George Balanchine’s masterpiece to Hindemith’s electric score »The Four Temperaments«. Over the past twelve seasons under my direction we have built up a substantial Balanchine repertoire predominantly made up his more classical repertoire, and »The Four Temperaments« will be our first of his black & white abstract works. Created in 1946, this ballet has become known as the ancestor of all Balanchine ballets that now defines his signature style. The second part of this program is made up of two shorter works. We will, for the first time ever, premiere a work from the legendary pioneer of American contemporary dance, Martha Graham with her »Errand into the Maze«. Premiered in 1947, and set to the fifteen minute score of Gian Carlo Menotti, Graham based this duet on the famous Greek myth of Ariadne and the Minotaur in which she explores the fear of sexual intimacy. We close the second part with a familiar face to our house, world-renowned Israeli choreographer, Ohad Naharin and his »Black Milk«. Created in 1985 and danced to a score for a marimbaphone by Paul Smadbeck, this is a mesmerizing harsh ritual in which a quintet of all male dancers smear their bodies with black paint and are challenged with a juxtaposition of tempi, textures and energy. The connection between these first three works on this program range from period, the first two being from the 1940’s, to style as Graham after visiting Israel in the early 70’s invited Naharin to join her dance company in New York, consequently influencing his work. He then of course defined his unique style but in »Black Milk« one can clearly see the parallels between these two choreographers especially in the sense of renewal, which is a major Graham theme. To close the evening I have commissioned a world premiere by our own soloist Joseph Hernandez. I am always interested to promote internal talent wherever possible and I do believe Joseph has a very interesting and unique creative voice. After commissioning two successful smaller creations, one for our Semper Zwei and the other for a tour to the Joyce Theater last season, I am happy to offer Joseph the opportunity to create for our main stage. I have given Joseph a clean palette, free from constraint to realize his artistic vision for this premiere and we are all very excited to see what he will create!
Our second premiere on January 25th 2019 will be Johan Inger’s unique and vibrant »Carmen«, a title that I have long-awaited to introduce. Inger is also no stranger to our house as we currently have two other of his works in our repertoire and he is a choreographer that I want to maintain an artistic relationship with. In this narrative, originally created for Compañía Nacional de Danza in 2015, Inger decides to focus on the theme of passion and violence approaching it through the eyes of a child which in turn brings out undertones of youth and innocence only hinted at in the original material. Inger’s »Carmen« has become one of the most talked about ballets of this decade, the irresistible music of Bizet and Schtschedrin, accompanied live by our Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden and Inger’s stunning choreography will make this an evening not be missed!
Under the direction of Manfred Weiß and Raphaël Coumes-Marquet, our second stage Semper Zwei will see a premiere of »Alice« based on »Alice in Wonderland«. This will be a collaboration of numerous choreographers, each in charge of a specific chapter of the story made up from a talent pool of our dancers.
I am very happy to announce that former Principal dancer of American Ballet Theatre and international ballet star Marcelo Gomes, will guest with us for the first time dancing three performances as Prince Siegfried in »Swan Lake« and two performances as Oberon in »The Dream«. I am excited to build an artistic relationship with Marcelo and our company and hope that this will be the beginning of many collaborations over the future seasons to come.
Our international presence continues to be another of my main points of focus. After three successful tours last season to New York, Ottawa and London, this season we see our first tour to Australia and Asia. We will present four performances of Johan Inger’s »Carmen« at Adelaide Festival of Arts on March 8th, 9th and 10th and two performances in Singapore on March 15th and 16th of William Forsythe’s »Impressing the Czar« at the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.
With over eighty performances, ten productions, three premieres programs, two world premieres and an international tour to Australia and Asia, this season proves to be very diverse and exciting. We welcome you to experience the Semperoper Ballett live if you have the chance.
Aaron S. Watkin
Artistic Director Semperoper Ballet