The Hamburg Ballet, ballet with a human touch

Published on: February 2, 2015


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– By Silvia Poletti  –

The return of the Hamburg Ballet to Italy, in July at Teatro La Fenice, is the perfect occasion to understand the unusual prominence of this company, for which even the smallest detail has a special meaning. We can see it through the lens of a very special photographer, the solo dancer of the ensemble Silvano Ballone.  -Gallery – 

What makes a ballet company “great”? And what makes a good dancer a true artist? Nowadays the standards of technique are generally high, so how can we define a Ballet better than another? That company on the wane or the one that is experiencing increasing success? Dance is an extremely complex art form, and highly perishable, too: An inharmonious movement or a diversion of the empathic tension from the intensions evoked by that same movement or from a specific sequence may dismantle such a complex but impalpable structure, made of architectural logic (space and movement), but also of aesthetics and poetics. A complicated equilibrium, which becomes even more complicated when involves a large group, not only some stars. The return to Italy, at Teatro La Fenice in Venice, of Hamburg Ballet under John Neumeier (15-17 July 2015, Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler) is the perfect occasion to ponder about this topic, with the help, or better the images, of a very special photographer, privileged insider of the company, in which he performs as a solo dancer, the Italian ballerino Silvano Ballone.

These photos show us the life cycle and the details of a choreography and its true and deep meaning; as for Neumeier’s choreographies, they are above all a poetic “composition” about human relationships, personified in some literary or theatrical characters to bring back to life, other ones to imagine, and other ones that are simple essences of universal feelings.

Neumeier is a humanist author and needs his dancers not only to perform all the complex steps of his heterogeneous language, a mix of classical and modern, but also to introject the sense of the movement, to gather the deep psychological and emotional reason, to broaden the meaning into the space. They have to wisely manage and regulate their energy, which is sometimes impetuous, as in the scene in which Romeo unveils Juliet’s body, sometimes tense and quivering, as the one in which Romola is erotically touched by Faun Nijinsky. The dancers have to project dynamism all around themselves, as in the Michelangelesque movement of the famous Angel duet of the Third Symphony, or the desperate knot of Marguerite, withdrawing into herself, surrendered to the will of Duval.

Hamburg Ballet, Nijinsky, Joelle Boulogne, Thiago Bordin

Hamburg Ballet, Nijinsky, Joelle Boulogne, Thiago Bordin

Neumeier’s dance theatre is the “celebration” of the human beings, with their virtues, but also their weaknesses. Actually, the weaknesses and the vulnerabilities, through the complete involvement of the performers, made and still make his creations disturbing. A small particular, for example the humiliated look on the maidservant Alina Cojocaru or the confused prayer of Gustav Mahler/Lloyd Riggins, perfectly captured in Ballone’s photos, can strike the deepest chords of the subconscious, can lead the audience to find some close similarities, so far only imagined, and can actually move the audience. In other words, as the same American maestro says, it means to get in tune – to move in an intimate way – with what the dance and the dancers on stage are narrating, about us, too.

Translation by Rosamaria Viola
proofreading by Antoinette d’Arbela


Hamburg Ballet, Purgatorio, Lloyd Riggins

Hamburg Ballet, Purgatorio, Lloyd Riggins


Angel’s duet taken from Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler, performers Silvia Azzoni and Aleksander Riabko.bko.


One Response to The Hamburg Ballet, ballet with a human touch

  1. Valeria Ronzani Valeria Ronzani says:

    Silvia Poletti è una delle più belle penne in circolazione. E la sua conoscenza del mondo della danza ha pochi rivali. Un onore averla con noi

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