A Collection of Short Stories

William Forsythe / David Dawson / Jorma Elo / Nicholas Palmquist

Multi-part ballet evening

Premiere 15. October 2021


This new multi-part ballet evening will display the entire artistic spectrum of the Semperoper Ballett under the direction of Aaron S. Watkin in a versatile programme that ranges between classical and neo-classical ballet as well as contemporary dance. William Forsythe’s »The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude« (1996) is a pure distillation of the skills and achievements of neo-classical dance in pointe shoes and tutus. Dresden audiences will have their first chance to see the pas de deux »FAUN(E)« for two men or two women by associate choreographer David Dawson, inspired by Claude Debussy’s famous composition. And as a special highlight, principal Marcelo Gomes will dance the solo »Still of King« by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo, created for him in 2011. The master of classical ballet, Marius Petipa, is also represented with excerpts from »Swan Lake« and »Le Corsaire«, both in versions by Aaron S. Watkin. The evening closes with a new work by the young American choreographer Nicholas Palmquist. In »A Collection of Short Stories«, he traces human relationships and their fissures, embedded in a spatially expansive piano composition by Alexandra Stréliski.


William Forsythe »The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude«
Aaron S. Watkin »White Swan«-Pas de deux from »Swan Lake«
Aaron S. Watkin (after Marius Petipa) »Odalisques«-Pas de trois from »Le Corsaire«
David Dawson »FAUN(E)«
Jorma Elo »Still of King«
Nicholas Palmquist »A Collection of Short Stories« (World premiere)


William Forsythe »The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude«
25 years ago, William Forsythe’s »The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude« was premiered by Ballett Frankfurt. The choreographer, who in 2020 received the »Faust« theatre prize for his life’s work, called this dazzling piece »a perfect stylistic exercise in neo-classical ballet«. Set to music by Franz Schubert, it dares to take a thoroughly ironic look at Forsythe’s great role model, George Balanchine, as well as his own classical training. In early performances, the words »skyblue backdrop« – an allusion to Balanchine’s visual trademark – were projected behind the dancers.

Aaron S. Watkin  »White Swan« pas de deux from »Swan Lake«
In 2009, ballet director Aaron S. Watkin created his own interpretation of the narrative ballet “Swan Lake” for the Semperoper Ballett, based on the 1895 version by those two visionary choreographers, Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. In this world-famous masterpiece, the »White Swan« pas de deux between the swan princess Odette and Prince Siegfried is the epitome of grace and love. This love, however, will be destroyed by the machinations of Odile and Von Rothbart.

Aaron S. Watkin (after Marius Petipa) »Odalisques« pas de trois from »Le Corsaire«
Originally premiered in Paris in 1856 and later transferred to Russia by Marius Petipa, the narrative ballet »Le Corsaire« set to music by Adolphe Adam has a long and turbulent history, in the course of which the piece was repeatedly revised. One of the changes Petipa made was to expand a waltz for a group of dancers in the harem scene into a pas de trois for three ladies of the harem. Borrowing from Marius Petipa, Aaron S. Watkin developed his own version of the divertissement for three dancers.

David Dawson »FAUN(E)«
Choreographer David Dawson was inspired by Claude Debussy’s popular orchestral piece »L’Après-midi d’un faune« (here arranged for two pianos by the composer himself) in creating his »FAUN(E)«. This abstract and timeless contemporary work was premiered at London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre in 2009. Constructed in the form of a duet between two dancers, at the end of which one of them is left behind to seek her/his own happiness alone, »FAUN(E)« explores questions of duality, sexuality and identity. 

Jorma Elo »Still of King«
Semperoper Ballett principal Marcelo Gomes will present »Still of King«, a work that was in fact created especially for him in 2011 by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo. Honoured for his artistic achievements with the Prix Benois de la Danse in 2010, Jorma Elo had already developed pieces for and with Marcelo Gomes twice before. In “Still of King”, the choreographer combines his unique physical vocabulary with the majestic music of Joseph Haydn.

Nicholas Palmquist »A Collection of Short Stories« (world premiere)
»A Collection of Short Stories« is a world premiere by the US choreographer Nicholas Palmquist. The inspiration for this new work came from his own poems and short stories as well as the piano compositions of Canadian composer-pianist Alexandra Stréliski. With great sensitivity Palmquist reacts to the nuances of the music while delving into his collection of eight narrative episodes. In so doing he interrogates not just the hidden recesses of human relationships but also the feelings and stories which, at least in part, unfold solely in our heads.