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The Seagull Is Dancing - John Neumeier's new ballet based on Anton Chekov

receives premiere in Hamburg

Again it is music of Dmitri Shostakovich that John Neumeier chose to supply the musical background for one of his narrative ballets. In his successful ballet "Njinsky" of last year, he used excerpts from Shostakovich's 11th Symphony. Now he has confronted one of the most famous and yet most problematical dramatic subjects in twentieth-century Russian literature: Anton Chekov's play "The Seagull."

Excerpts from the following works of Shostakovich were heard: Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 102, Symphony No. 15, Op. 141, "Moscow, Cheryomushki," Op. 105, Ballet Suite No. 1 for Orchestra (arr. Lev Atovmian), Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a (arr. Rudolf Barschai) and the Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 67.

The Hamburger Abendblatt reported as follows in its issue of 17 June 2002:

"(...) As in his works "Camellia Lady" and "Njinsky," Neumeier allows the occurrences to pass in review as reminiscences. And even if he maintained before the premiere that it was not his intention to re-narrate Chekov's drama but rather to illustrate moods and conditions, he nevertheless does it with psychological depth, occasionally on the surface as well. He even allows the dancing to speak - in a rather lengthy review scene - where Chekov remains silent. This is just fine with the altogether outstanding dancers. No protest could in the end spoil a ballet the moods of which can often be more readily sensed than seen. Thus, there was a great unanimous jubilation for all, including the conductor Lehtinen."

On 18 June 2002 Monika Fabry's critique followed in the same newspaper, including the following comments:

"(...) Neumeier repeatedly ties together connecting lines that can be either seen or felt, and which do not allow the actors' inner connectedness to be broken off. Nothing stands merely for itself; everything is well-founded and substantiated - even the divertimento-like review scenes in their sharply stylistic demarcations. The way in which Neumeier respectfully caricatures Tsarist ballet is just as admirable as the enormous technical and expressive sovereignty of all the dancers (...)."