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John Neumeier's Ballet

taken up again in Hamburg

The ballet "Nijinsky" by John Neumeier, first performed on 2 July 2000 at the Hamburg State Opera, has been on the opera house's programme again since November 2001. The current concert dates are 16, 17 and 19 January 2002. Further performances will follow on 11, 15, 18, and 20 May 2002 and on 28 June 2002.

The production is, according to the Hamburg ballet director, not a danced sketch of the life of the great dancer and star of the Ballets russes, but rather a biography of the soul, the feelings and inner states of this artist who was so seriously ill at the end of his life. Neumeier makes use of works of Dmitri Shostakovich for the musical illustration of his ballet visions. These works include excerpts from the 11th Symphony "The Year 1905," Op. 103 and the Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op. 147, the composer's last work, a work that can be understood as a kind of bequest.

At the time of the premiere, the daily newspaper "DIE WELT" (4 July 2000) commented on the event as follows: "Neumeier wishes to relate events in a neutral manner, assembling the phenomenology of a myth out of choreographed mosaic pieces from the biography of the ingenious dancer, the innovative choreographer, the man caught between the demanding love of Diaghilev and of his wife Romola who finally succumbed to schizophrenia. (...) At first Neumeier rewinds the film, as it were, starting from Nijinsky's final public appearance in a true-to-life replica of a St. Moritz hotel. Neumeier mixes his pure classical, yet also cool language of movement with Nijinsky's choreography without any stylistic discrepancy, allowing the protagonist to roll with Romola and cuddle with Sergei in a beautiful Pas de Trois to Shostakovich's late Viola Sonata. (...) The second part has a more stringent effect because it is more disparate, a collage almost without a theme. Nijinsky seems to have stepped beyond the border separating genius from madness, striding through two neon circles in order to experience the terrors of the war to the heart-stirring military music of Shostakovich's 11th Symphony and finally - back at Suvretta House - to dance these terrors wrapped up in strips of cloth."