Dance: Leipziger Ballet

Igor Stravinsky: Balettabend; Leipzig Opera House

For his Igor Stravinksy Ballet Evening, Uwe Scholz, director and choreographer of Leipzig's resident ballet company, has re-worked a trio of celebrated 20th-century originals: Frederick Ashton's Scenes de Ballet, Balanchine's Symphony in Three Movements and Fokine's The Firebird. To anyone who knows these ballets, Scholz's versions register as mostly drab, if entirely respectable, substitutes - born of the kind of mild revision and unremarkable choreography that is regarded as modern by opera house ballet companies throughout Europe.

In Scenes de Ballet, Ashton's geometrical brilliance is replaced by inchoate groupings of dancers. The women keep slipping into coy, starlet poses; or stretch effortlessly into splits, their thighs grasped by men who, just as effortlessly, lift the women overhead. In one duet, a cigarette- puffing flirt treats her male partner with contempt, only to succumb to his controlled experiment in bendy-toy manipulations. Much of the choreography feels throwaway. Scholz wanted, perhaps, to allude to the 1944 Broadway style of the revue, The Seven Lively Arts, in which Stravinsky's score was initially used for a balletic divertissement by Anton Dolin. Yet he leaves us with little more than a series of fleeting, half-drawn mood pictures, flanked by some occasionally witty distortions of sculptural form created by the movements of silhouetted figures as a backdrop of horizontal bands opens and closes on sections of activity.

In his Firebird, however, Scholz manages to marry dance and music more organically. His scenario, although a departure from the Russian legend which informed Fokine's 1910 ballet, doesn't amount to a new reading. In fact it harks right back to the Seventies. The work's planets-and-stars background hints at John Neumeier's science fiction version for the Frankfurt Ballet; and Scholz's decision to cast a man rather than a woman as the Firebird follows Maurice Bejart's example. The homoerotic overtones in the pas de deux between the Prince (Damien Diaz) and Firebird (Juan Boix) are eloquently complemented by the final tableau in which the Prince, now almost naked, stands with his back to the audience and is embraced by the Princess, while the Firebird orchestrates the procession of maidens who encircle the couple. By simple means, Scholz reveals that final, glorious apotheosis of movement and music which always leaves you with the impression that The Firebird is an uplifting ballet even if it's not a great one.

Had Scholz trusted in similarly simple but effective means for his Symphony in Three Movements, he might have created something more satisfyingly coherent than the rambling, inconsistently energised choreography with which he responds to Stravinsky's piano and harp arrangements. Allusions to war (as in Balanchine's ballet) abound: an oriental army marching and striking; unspecified global power as enacted by women; optimism strangled and renewed by turns. Scholz has a decent skeleton of a ballet but keeps piling it with choreographic gristle rather than lean and muscular dance.


Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'