SPLENDID!: The ballet festival will offer dance, from classical to modern.
RIGA - Yes, the title perfectly applies to this year’s International Baltic Ballet Festival. Why is that, you might ask? Because this year the festival has classical events alongside modern dance, historical and glamorous films, new productions from Spain, and so much more.
Although this is not a celebration year, the 17th annual ballet festival has a very real possibility to interest almost everyone. “The program this year is very colorful and based on the principle of contrast. Anyone can find something binding for their taste,” said Lita Beiris, prima ballerina and the director of the festival, at a press conference.
According to the traditions of the festival, the opening concert will take place at Riga Railway station on April 27 and will be free of charge. One of its attractions is a very multinational ensemble performing in the station. On the following day, April 28, visitors and inhabitants of Riga are welcome to appreciate the art of Igor Zaharkin, an outstanding photographer from Moscow. Based on the framework of the festival, the one-man exhibition is called “Fascination of Ballet Art” and will be exhibited on Ridzenes St. in the shopping mall “Galerija Centrs” till May 19. Other exhibitions are also dedicated to the art of dancing and will be opened later – on May 2 in the Mentzendorff’s House at 16:00 and in the Art Gallery “Jana Seta” at 18:00. “The art, painting and sculpture are related and close to each other; the artists approach dance from different angles,” continues Beiris.
The day after the opening concert, the recently renovated cinema “Splendid Palace” will delight the enthusiasts with a unique documentary about German choreographer and legend of dance Pina Bausch and her life, until her passing away in the summer of 2009. Wim Wenders, the director of the documentary, first met Bausch in 1985 and since then their friendship became long-standing and eventually led to an idea for a joint film project. As you can imagine, the implementation of the project turned out to be more difficult than ever thought, so the documentary became a long-term idea. In the film they also included pieces from her repertoire, such as “Cafe Muller,” “Le Sacre du Printemps,” “Vollmond” and “Kontakthof,” which are familiar to ballet enthusiasts.
To continue the tribute to Bausch, organizers of the festival have included another documentary in the program, which is one of Pina’s most recognized choreographies called “Kontakthof,” and a ballet performed by teenagers called “Dancing Dreams.” This film is not only about young dancers and how they are learning and expressing themselves in this beautiful choreography, but it also includes the very last interview with the world famous dancer.
One of the most binding performances this year comes from France, from a dance company called “Beau Geste,” which in translation means “A beautiful gesture.” The performance is beautiful and exciting, because not every day can we experience a dance where the performer is committed to a machine: in this production – to an excavator. As Denis Duclos, the director of the French Institute in Latvia, explained at the press conference: “The aim of this production is to conquer any viewer’s heart by keeping it simple and understandable for everyone.”
On May 14 the festival will present Spain’s most remarkable ballet troupe, the Victor Ullate Ballet. The choreographies this Spanish dancer offers are mind-blowing and varies from original and classic, neoclassic and even flamenco combinations all together with traditional Spanish melodies. At the performance, which they will execute in Riga, ballet fans can experience almost all of the previously mentioned!
The world famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform the last concert of the festival during their European tour. Coming all the way from New York City, they have performed in over 70 countries and have been referred to as the ones that are spreading the American culture all over the world. This production also represents what happens on stage when choreographers mix the true spirits of young dancers with their long-term knowledge and artistic indestructibility.
This is the first year that the International Baltic Ballet Festival expands outside the big cities of Latvia, as it will be presented in Preili, a town that has only a few thousand inhabitants. So, the only logical conclusion would be that this festival is growing. It is growing in its artistic spaces and also in attracting people that are just enchanted by this beautiful dance event. There are no other logical conclusions, because dance is one of the things that does not require the meaning of logic. It is a passion that brings us all together, a passion inspired by the magnificent art of dance. Simply something that has to be experienced by everyone!