Dutch National Ballet
Posted: 26 Feb 2010
Cultural Centre, Grand Theatre Thursday 11 & Friday 12 Sha Tin Town Hall, Auditorium Sunday 14
This fortnight, Hans van Manen – resident choreographer of the Dutch National Ballet since 2003, and one of the world’s leading choreographers – is bringing six of his iconic modern ballet works to the Hong Kong stage. As part of the ongoing Arts Festival, the company’s international mix of dancers will perform three programmes, consisting of various combinations of Adagio Hammerklavier, Concertante ( 11thand 14th), Live ( 11th and 12th), as well as the trio of Sarcasmen, Solo, and Trois Grossiennes (12th and 14th).
Adagio Hammerklavier, to be performed in all three shows, is the 77-year-old choreographer’s investigation into relationships unsettled by unfulfilled desire. It was created for the three principal couples of the company’s production of Swan Lake, when preparation of that happened to occupy everyone else in the company but the six dancers at one stage. “I was happy [to make something for them],” van Manen says of the thought process underlying his work. “I thought ‘adagio’. You hardly ever see adagio [in dance works]; you see slow motion, but that’s different. That’s based on total balance. I always think of adagio as a wheel that you push – and that moment where the wheel is still moving just before it falls.”
While he was once told by the great choreographer George Balanchine, “You can’t dance to Beethoven,” his Adagio Hammerklavier – alongside Gross Fuge, which is also set to the music of Beethoven – has gone on to become a big hit. “So I think to myself,” says a bemused van Manen, “it’s great [to know] that a genius like Balanchine could make mistakes too.”
Sarcasmen is another work that materialised seemingly on a whim. While he was considering making a piece for Clint Farha and Rachel Beaujean, his “muses at the time”, van Manen stumbled across the Prokofiev music he had in mind in a record store in Essen. “I listened to it, and when I came back [to work] I could start straight away,” he recalls. “It was finished in a week. Every once in a while, you get one of those ballets that you can just dash off – but you only realise that with hindsight.”
Speaking on his favourite way of working, van Manen, expectedly, touches on the succinct nature of his pieces: “The creation of independent duets runs like a thread throughout my work. It is a constant. You see, I like concise work – in my group pieces as well. I enjoy creating short works that have a beginning and an end; and a pas de deux is ideal for that.” Nonetheless, the free spirit in his works seems to run much deeper. “I like risky dancing,” the choreographer explains. “If [the dancers] then make mistakes, I don’t care. But I really don’t like it when they dance carefully.”
Tickets: 2734 9009; www.urbtix.hk.