Ballett am Rhein Düsseldorf Duisburg. Choreography: Martin Schläpfer; set design: Florian Etti; Costume: Catherine Voeffray; lights: Volker Weinhart. Choir and orchestra of the Teatro Real. Musical director: Marc Piollet. Teatro Real, Madrid. Until October 14.
There does not exist within the analytical bibliography of the modern ballet an ordered and proper recapitulation of the choreographic requiem, since the subject itself is informed by a notorious cast, replete with distinguished names and which begins fairly early in the chronological margins of contemporary ballet. There is clearly a line, within what can be called the current neo-symphonist ballet (always based on scores of great orchestral formation not written specifically for dance), which makes the requiem a political vehicle (Balanchine / Stravinski: 1968; MacMillan / Fauré : 1976 and Lloyd Webber, 1986, Kilian / Britten: Forgotten Land, 1981, and Eifman / Mozart: 2014), as opposed to a less committed and abstractionist position, subverting everything contended to the subliminal and specific, to the structure and solemn motivation of the format and its definition.
If in Balanchine it was the death of Martin Luther King, in MacMillan, the crimes of the Khmer Rouge; if the Kilian was a painting by Edvard Munch that suggests the solitude of exile, in Eifman, a poem by the highly repressed poet Anna Akhmatova. The requiem, in its sameness or introspection, is made to wear a variable aesthetic multiplicity, the capacity of the expressive substantial to go linearly by a mystic, or as it is more usual today, towards secular and non-religious humanistic contents. Many times, the greatness of the musical material leaves the choreographic in the background. Paradoxically, and contrary to what is expected, what is heard imposes itself decisively on what is seen.
But none of these things seem to interest the choreographers right now, as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui did with Fauré (2014) in Antwerp, or the Swiss Martin Schläpfer (Altstätten, 1959) with the Ein Deutsches Requiem, from Brahms (2010-2011), which is the piece that is seen these days on the stage of the Teatro Real de Madrid and that was created as its first major contribution when arriving at the Ballett am Rhein Düsseldorf Duisburg. It's a bad and wrong consolation resource to say that Ein Deutsches Requiem it is not religious or vertically religious music, because it is from the first note to the last. Another thing is that it is not dependent on the Catholic liturgy, the Latin literal canon or the formal impositions of the Exequial Mass, and yes it responds to the current and influential Lutheranism in the rather dry environment of the composer; to speak of pagan requiem in property would have to wait for Delius (1922) or Hindemith (1946). Other recent choreographic versions of Ein Deutsches Requiem they are the partial of Tess Sinke with the Deos Contemporary Ballet in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and that of Davide Camplani (Marone, 1968) and Claudia de Serpa Soares (Lisbon, 1973), historical members of Sasha Waltz & Guets, with the subtitle of Human Requiem and seen in Berlin and at the Adelaide Festival in Australia.
As for the choreographic material of Düsseldorf, the master formulas of his guide and mentor, Heinz Spoerli, a teacher of masters in the art of creating great choreographic movements based on great musics, are very present in Schläpfer's style. demonstrated with Haydn, Bach and others). It is not that Schläpfer copies Spoerli, but that he perfumes his evolutions with the poetic art of the other, a process that is both natural and consequent. Schläpfer comes from a cohabiting education between rigid maternal Lutheranism and an atheist father, as he himself has once said. In its Ein Deutsches Requiem this dichotomy that reaches the plastic one is quite present (dancer with a bare foot and another footwear with the ballet slipper): freedom versus canon. Schläpfer relies on a phrasing of repetition of figures and dynamics that overshadows the scene, overflowing it into a little stimulating circularity. The drawing is markedly informalist, aggressive and expeditious, as if wanting to get rid of any commitment to academic cartography to which, inevitably, recurrently.
The decision to sink the choir and the soloists into the orchestra pit has been (it is not known if this is technical or artistic), which is clearly wrong, since it takes away the product packaging and presence and deepens the gap of distant coldness it envelops the style of the choreographer. The great stage of the Plaza de Oriente allowed the other variant: the choir on a high platform, almost fondale. The impact would have been another. We can not ignore at any time, nor forget, that this is a ballet show and that music, whatever it is, should be at the service of the dance and not the other way around.
The company of Düsseldorf offers a staff of good technical level in its dancers, as almost all in Western Europe, of cosmopolitan vocation, and where there are three Spaniards: Daniel Vizcayo, Virginia Sagarra and Rubén Cabaleiro, in addition to the Mexican-Mexican Cassandra Martin.