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Hamilton Nieh, Sankai Juku

Dongting Xing –
Ballet du Rhin:
“Le Rouge et
le Noir”, Ushio Amagatsu and his
c. Uwe Scholz
(ph. J.-L. Tanghe)
Meguri – chor. Ushio Amagatsu, mus.
Lyon (France), Maison de la Danse

The ballet was subse- For over forty years Japanese Ushio
quently staged at Teatro alla Amagatsu, at the helm of his Sankai Juku
Scala, Derevianko in person company, has been captivating a public that
revived it at the Dresden is sensitive to the stark aesthetics that char-
Opera House and it was also acterise his shows.
performed at the Leipzig After his 1978 creation Kinkan Shonen
Opera House when Uwe (“Kumquat Seeds”), which the Japanese
Scholz himself was director company presented to international acclaim
of the ballet company. On at the Avignon Festival and then at the Fes-
that occasion, the role of tival d’Automne in Paris, Ushio Amagatsu
Julien Sorel was danced by has produced about forty works with his
the young Giovanni di clearly recognisable hallmark: shaven heads
Palma who has now restaged and hairless bodies covered in powder, care-
the work for the Ballet du fully-designed and minimalist scenography
Rhin (Strasburg, Mulhouse and a poetic atmosphere in which his priest-
and Colmar, in France). like dancers, all of whom men, appear to
This is the first time that be officiating at mysterious rites.
the French public gets to see For years now, the Sankai Juku have rep-
this ballet (something which resented the aesthetic dimension of butoh,
Scholz had wanted ever devoid of its original violence and spirit of
since its Zurich première); revolt, preserving only the outwardly as-
it therefore receives an air- pect of the nude, white bodies and slow
ing in the country in whose
culture Stendhal’s Scarlet
and Black is embedded – a
novel which tells of the love Sankai Juku: “Meguri”, c. Ushio Amagatsu
life and social ascent (the (ph. Sankai Juku)
two things go hand-in-hand)
of a young provincial man
Ballet du Rhin during the post-Napoleonic era. And it must
be observed that the French public gets a dif-
ferent sensation out of it. The scene with the
Napoleonic army is the most stirring and, above
The return of Uwe all, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Strasburg
Scholz’s Scarlet and plays Berlioz like we’ve never heard it before.
The scenery and costumes, designed respec-
Black tively by Philippe Miesch and Thibaut Welchlin,
are extremely stylised, simple yet elegant.
Le Rouge et le Noir – chor. Uwe Scholz, mus. The choreography has been partly changed
Hector Berlioz and there are some long drawn out moments.
Mulhouse (France), La Filature The company was on top form. The girls were
magnificent with excellent pointe work. The
Uwe Scholz’s Scarlet and Black was created men are outwardly heterogeneous, yet they rose
at the Zurich Opera House in 1988. The Ger- convincingly to the challenge.
man choreographer (who passed away in 2001 There is a weakness, however, and, unfor-
aged 45), at the time director of the Zurich Bal- tunately, a major one. The dancer who danced
let, had drawn his inspiration from Stendhal’s Julien Sorel was not up to it. This role requires
novel and staged a major ballet. Two ballets virtuosity and one needs to be an outstanding
in particular had influenced the young chore- partner seeing as Scholz’s portés are very dif-
ographer when he was still with the Stuttgart ficult. Hamilton Nieh is a good actor but
Ballet: Onegin by John Cranko, based on doesn’t have the necessary strength and qualities
Pushkin, and The Lady of the Camellias by John as a dancer and partner.
Neumeier, based on Alexandre Dumas Junior. We shall, though, sing the praises of solo-
Both works had been created for Marcia ists Céline Nunigé, effervescent as Mathilde
Haydée, the German company’s big star. de la Mole, and, above all, of Dongting Xing
Uwe Scholz worked on his masterpiece for as Madame de Rênal whose interpretation and,
two years and the creation was an event, with especially, dancing progressed in line with the
the lead role of Julien Sorel masterfully ren- choreography.
dered by Russian dancer Vladimir Derevianko. Emmanuèle Rüegger