Ballet lovers have a lot to be excited about in the coming weeks as the first half of the new year will see the National Theater and Experimental Theater packed with great dancers and companies. First up on the calendar is the 7th International Ballet Star Gala (第七屆 國際芭蕾舞星在台北) tomorrow night and Sunday afternoon.
It has been two long years since the sixth gala because teacher/impresario Wang Tzer-shing (王澤馨) and her husband, Chat Tzongue (謝宗益), who produce the shows under the auspices of their company Art Wave, were kept very busy arranging for the visits of the Universal Ballet and American Ballet Theater in 2012 and the Staatsballett Berlin last year, along with staging their third gala in Singapore.
However, judging from the lineup, the wait will prove to have been worth it. Wang has invited 12 dancers from eight companies for this weekend’s shows, mixing some new faces in with familiar favorites, as well as balancing the program between flamboyant classical duets that are gala standards — such as the Tchaikovsky, Le Corsair and Don Quixote pas de deux — and dances by some of the best choreographers working in ballet today.
This year’s cast is a mini-UN, with the dancers hailing from Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Albania, Georgia, Germany and Japan, a reflection of the change in the ballet world since the lift of the Iron Curtain made it possible for dancers — and choreographers — from Russia and Eastern Europe to travel and work abroad.
The National Theater is by now familiar territory for the Mariinsky Theatre’s Igor Kolb; he danced in the 2011 and 2012 galas and took part in the Mariinsky’s visits in 2004 and 2006.
Also making his fifth trip to Taipei is American Ballet Theater (ABT) principal Daniil Simkin, who has developed a major fanbase here since his first gala appearance in 2008. He partnered San Francisco Ballet’s Maria Kochetkova in the last gala and will do so again this weekend.
WHAT: 7th International Ballet Star Gala
WHEN: Tomorrow at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:30pm
WHERE: National Theater (國家戲劇院), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei (台北市中山南路21-1號)
ADMISSION: NT$1,200 to NT$5,400; available at NTCH box offices, online at www.artsticket.com.tw or 7-Eleven ibon kiosks
The Stuttgart Ballet is represented by principals Alicia Amatriain, who was in the 2012 gala, and Friedemann Vogel, who danced in the 2009 and 2010 shows.
Maia Makhateli from the Dutch National Ballet is also making a return visit; she was here in 2011.
Among the newcomers are two couples, former ABT principals Irina Dvorovenko and her husband, Maxim Beloserkovsky, and Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino from the Bayerisches Staatsballett.
Rounding out the cast are Joaquin de Luz from the New York City Ballet (NYCB) and Misa Kuranaga from the Boston Ballet. Kuranaga is a last minute replacement for NYCB’s Ana Sophia Scheller, who was injured on Monday.
“It was crazy. I was up for 24 hours. We were so lucky to find a replacement and get her on a plane,” Wang said in an e-mail late last night.
Among the works on the program are four solos: Kolb will dance Vladimir Varnava’s Beginning, Kochetkova is dancing a yet-unnamed piece, Makhateli will dance Aurora’s Act I variation from Sleeping Beauty and Simkin will reprise Ben Van Cauwenbergh’s crowd-pleasing Le Bourgeois.
Along with the three classical pas de deux named above, Kolb will partner Makhateli in one from Marius Petipa’s Talisman and Lacarra and Dino are doing one from John Neumeier’s Lady of the Camillas.
The modern pas de deux include Anatoliy Beliy’s Cardio and Jessica Lang’s 2007 piece Splendid Isolation III, both of which will be danced by Dvorovenko and Beloserkovsky; and Ben Stevenson’s 3 Preludes, danced by Lacarra and Dino.