Tuesday, February 7, 2012

90 years of National Ballet in Finland (pt. 2 with Opinions)

First of all, this took me a bit longer than I thought, but here it is. My personal opinions of the gala! :) You'll find the whole programme here.

2 friends were able to see the main rehearsal for the gala, so I had some info about the evening's list. But still it felt like not knowing what to expect, in a good way! I was in a weird mood, didn't sleep too much the night before, had a busy day (training, lots of teaching), then back to hotel (wanted to sleep), put on the fancy clothes, took a tram to the Opera... Then started to feel the excitement of all the people round me. Searched for a programme leaflet. Went to my seat (on the 2nd balcony, out of 3), took a look down to the parquet and the orchestra.

The lights went off and a girl in a white tutu came to the stage, looking around. Doing some poses. Then Mr Greve (the big boss) emerged and soon they left, both pulling a curtain in their own direction. And so the show really began!

Clip of Etudes. 3 barres of the stage, each having a couple of ballerinas by, doing basic moves slowly. Adagio-style. Lighting was interesting, quite dark even.

Next up: Swan Lake. I was interested in this bit, as I haven't seen the particular production on stage. Did like it, the big pas de deux. Petia Ilieva's Odette was felt genuinely suffering, also romantic. A bit discreet maybe, but it didn't bother me. I've always found Odette somewhat shy as a person, delicate and graceful being other adjectives. Some other dancer might (and they do, I've seen many) interpret the role (well, this pdd here) more passionately, throwing themselves "to the flames"... But I liked what I saw.

Petia Ilieva and Jani Talo. Photo by Sakari Viika.

And the Cygnets. What can I say? They were Good. (And a bit hilarious - there were feathers flying around them as they went on... :D)

Linda Haakana, Annabelle Hellinckx, Claire Voss, Maki Nakagawa. Photo by Sergi Nicolau.
Seven Brothers was one of the works that really surprised me. One of those I didn't know what to expect of. But it was GOOD. Interesting. The music was kind of enchanting. Also after seeing a videoclip of Marjo Kuusela teaching the work to the dancers it felt even more special. And as I hadn't noticed the existance of the (female) fox on the leaflet, it was even More Suprising! :) Sara Saviola was very convincing, with all the little gestures of the animal. Seven Brothers is based on a play/novel by our national author Aleksis Kivi.

Frans Valkama, Jaakko Eerola, Kare Länsivuori, Johan Pakkanen, Nikolas Koskivirta, Aki Pakarinen, Antti Keinänen. Photo by Sakari Viika.

Suite Murder by Jorma Elo. I've heard a lot about this man's works. He's talented and so on. But I have a teeny-tiniest "feeling" always with contemporary ballet (same thing was with the Brothers, might I add). With this excerpt of the Suite - there simply was No time to think and feel weird, it was happening snap-snap-snap, right from the beginning to the end. And again I enjoyed myself. The only thing bothering me was my glasses. I should get new ones, can't see too clear with the current ones.

Many people were waiting for Pessi and Illusia a lot. I was curious, but not too much. If you know what I mean. Just the normal amount. Not, like, anxious. This ballet is based on a fairytale written by Yrjö Kokko (in 1944), about a troll and a fairy. Nicol Edmonds was Pessi, and what a musical & talented troll he was! I liked him maybe a bit more than Aino Ettala as Illusia-the-fairy. But all in all, the excerpt was done beautifully. Would be interesting to see the whole thing some day.

Nicol Edmonds and Aino Ettala. Photo by Sakari Viika.

Now I might be a bad person, but in my opinion the Springtime Encounters wasn't needed in the programme. Okay okay, the kids were adorable and danced well enough, but the coreography wasn't interesting. I understand that they wanted to show the schoolers more than the bit in the very end, but this... Well. I've said what I think.

Seventh Symphony was FireWorks the whole thing through, like Elo's piece. But even More! Also I got to see the new star, Maria Baranova, in action. There sure is a lot to see in her, fine, precise working. Dancing. Soul in it, too. Mr Greve has said about this Symphony that it is a difficult piece. I agree after seeing only this finale. The music and Uwe Scholtz's steps are Fast, one really has to know exactly what to do and when. (Well, the dancers have to anyway... Haha....) Something to recommend, this piece. I hope we'll get the whole of it some day Again. (p.s. Baranova was dancing with my currently favorite male soloist, Nicholas Ziegler. Yay!) (p.p.s. The other soloists in this were up to their job, too. Very very well, I'd say. Without forgetting the corps of course.)

Swan of Tuonela was first performed by Jarmo Rastas (Lemminkäinen) and Ulrika Hallberg (the swan) in 1976. They taught the work to Jarkko Niininen and Tiina Myllymäki for this gala. We got to see a videoclip from the rehearsals and some funny bits in it, too! :D It's really too bad that this piece wasn't in the tv-version of the gala. *grumpy face* The music was of course amazing, by our very own composer, Jean Sibelius. He was born in my hometown Hämeenlinna and went to the same school as I did (my high school). His birth home is a museum these days, I've been there couple times. Just too bad he didn't write any cool stuff for flute... (Some orchestra solos, but that's it.) Back to the dancing -> The music is relatively long (9 minutes), but the piece kept it's touch to the end. And the body language, the coreography had captured the music's soul. Or that's what it felt to me. There was a certain tension, it was persistent, slow but not drowsy. I'll put a video here (from youtube) that has a short explaining in the beginning, about our "national legend" Kalevala and the meaning of Tuonela's Swan. There are sketches from an animation that would have been part of Fantasia, if it ever would've been finished.

Tiina Myllymäki & Jarkko Niininen rehearsing, Ulrika Hallberg & Jarmo Rastas watching. (Photo from here: http://www.hs.fi/kulttuuri/Kansallisbaletin+juhlagaala+tulee+my%C3%B6s+televisiosta/a1305554310227)

The last piece before intermission (Minus 7) was a suprise for the audience. We did know the name of it and stuff like coreographer & music, but what most of us did Not know.... The dancers came and took some people on stage! :D To dance with them! It was at first a bit like a rave, then some latin moves, then a slow dance. And in the end - furious applause! 

You'll get the idea... ;) Photo from here: http://www.ooppera.fi/palvelut/yleisoyhteistyo/erityisesitykset/tarjoukset_koululaisryhmille


It's Really late now and Viuhti-the-cat is getting very annoying. Have to try to sleep a bit. But tomorrow's a day off, so I'll write (try to) about the second half then :) Goooooooood night! :)

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