RIGA - Spring in Riga means dance, so ballet lovers will be busily swanning and swooning around over the next month, as Riga stages the 19th International Baltic Ballet Festival at a selection of venues around the capital and outside. In its 19th year, the International Baltic Ballet Festival (IBBF) will thrill once again with a wide variety of dance and other artistically-related events from April 7 to May 18.
The festival’s stated purpose is to try and popularize ballet by putting on a mixture of much-loved classics and more radical forms of contemporary ballet. But, best of all, it’s a truly Pan-Baltic exercise that brings together ballet ensembles, dancers and choreographers from each of the three Baltic States.
It’s only natural that Latvia hosts the event though, since it has a rich and impressive tradition in ballet, having produced such world famous names as Maris Liepa, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Aleksander Godunov and Vladimir Gelvan.
The International Baltic Ballet Festival “From classics to avant-garde” is the only festival in Riga which tends to represent the professional world’s level ballet artists and choreographies showing the best of today in classical ballet and contemporary dance. The festival has been initiated in 1996 in Riga by ex-Prima of Latvian National Ballet Lita Beiris, who is now the director of the festival.
The festival will feature stars from around the world and will allow dance enthusiasts to enjoy world-class performances from classical to avant-garde. The festival will be also complemented by various exhibitions on the theme of dance.
Over the years, the festival has become a celebrated feature in the tableau of cultural events that take place in the Baltic region.
“Keeping the continuity of traditions the opening of the festival will be held at the Riga Railway station by giving the concert “Dveseles stigas” (“The Chords of the Soul”) - classic and modern dance choreography with music of Maestro Raimonds Pauls, Beiris said during one of her press conferences.
Beiris was proud to announce the list of foreign companies gracing this year’s festival.
“We will offer two contemporary dance performances, representing high quality of contemporary dance by Brussels Contemporary Dance Company “Opinion Public,” and Polish Dance Theatre from Poznan will show their interpretation of tango and the combination of choreography with multimedia. Express of a passion and emotions will be met during the Flamenco show by prominent flamenco dancer Jesus Carmona from Barcelona. The avant-garde show Bicycle ballet by the dance company from United Kingdom will emphasize the varied character of the dance.
The dance company “Opinion Public” was established in 2010 by five dancers from Maurice Bejart’s dance troupe with an aim to work in their own individual choreographic style. The choreography is created in contemporary style on the basis of classical dance, reflecting different social processes and significant themes from people’s lives. The company uses a wide range of dance techniques and performing skills, beginning with dance and finishing with video and visual art.
The leader of the Cia Flamenco Dance Company as well as its choreographer and soloist, Jesus Carmona, is currently a first-rate flamenco star in Spain and around the world.
For Latvian viewers, the troupe will present a show called” Black and White,” which Carmona himself describes as follows: “Life is a co-existence of two columns: abundance and emptiness, white and black... Flamenco is emotions, illusions, dreams, longings and an urge to fight.”
Since he was seven, Jesus Carmona has been learning the art of flamenco with different experts, like Barbara Kaspovich, Rodolfo Castellanos, Ion Garnica and others.
These are just a few highlights of the setival, during which dance troupes from Spain, Belgium and Poland will perform not only in Riga, but in Ventspils, Valmiera, Preili and Rezekne. The dance performances will be enhanced with visual art performances, as well as film screenings and master-classes.
Meanwhile, the Gala concert will be an apogee of the festival held at the National Opera and providing the performances of principal dancers, new talents, winners of international ballet competitions and outstanding choreographers. The Gala Concert will reflect the novelty in the art of dance on the global level. Various countries will be represented at the Gala Concert, including Hungary, France, Russia, Germany and the Baltic countries.
In addition, it is a good way to take in some culture, mingle with other ballet goers over a glass of champagne at intermission and genuinely wonder how anyone comes up with these crazy plot lines.
International Baltic Ballet Festival
April 7 – May 18
For tickets, venues and performance schedules please visit: www.ballet-festival.lv