ON THIS DAY 42 years ago Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet about siblings living in claustrophobic isolation premiered in Stuttgart. “Isolated by their environment and living conditions, a family is left alone to rely solely on their intelligence and their passions. With only themselves as playmates, their childhood fantasies become their real world,” wrote MacMillan about My Brother, My Sisters in the cast sheet for the world premiere. The Scottish choreographer was inspired by the biography of the literary Brontë family as well as a story of suffering in a sanatorium. To orchestral works by Arnold Schönberg and Anton von Webern intense relationships unfolded on stage. While Richard Cragun danced the role of the brother, Birgit Keil, Lucia Isenring, Jean Allenby, Sylviane Bayard and Hilde Koch portrayed the sisters. Reid Anderson took on the mysterious role of HE. MacMillan revealed the secret of this ambiguous character only years later in an interview, stating that he regarded the role as his alter ego.
ON THIS DAY 45 years ago Jiří Kylián’s final version of Return To A Strange Land was premiered. A year earlier, the Czech choreographer, who was at that time a dancer of the Stuttgart Ballet, had created a first version dedicated to John Cranko, who had died in 1973. Expanded in 1975, the four-part piece dealt with the transition from one state of being to another. “The material that bodies are made of exists unconsciously in the hereafter. Life is consciousness. Dying is a return to a strange land – the country of origin”, said the choreographer. Though made for a cast of six, there were only three dancers on stage at a time. At the premiere Birgit Keil, Lucia Isenring, Heinz Clauss, Vladimir Klos, Christian Fallanga and William Forsythe circled around each other to Leoš Janáček’s music. Like the whole Stuttgart Ballet, Jiří Kylián stood at a turning point after John Cranko’s death. In 1975, the year that Return To A Strange Land premiered, he was engaged by the Nederlands Dans Theater and went on to lead the company to world fame through his vision and choreography.
ON THIS DAY … 33 years ago Marcia Haydée’s The Sleeping Beauty saw the light of day. Having danced in numerous versions during the course of her career, the prima ballerina / ballet director / choreographer finally decided to mount her own production of this beloved fairytale in 1987. And how she did it! She created a hugely successful interpretation which has made The Sleeping Beauty into one of the most beloved ballets in the Stuttgart Ballet’s repertory. The original cast included Annie Mayet as a dew-kissed Princess Aurora, today’s Artistic Director of the Stuttgart Ballet Tamas Detrich as the charming Prince who awakens her with a kiss, Marion Jäger as the beautiful and benevolent Lilac Fairy and last, but surely not least, Richard Cragun as the evil fairy Carabosse. Haydée’s unique characterization of this role provided Cragun with another highlight in an already stellar career and contributed greatly to the popularity of the work. To top it all off, Jürgen Roses breathtaking sets and costumes transported the viewer into a fairy tale setting which even Hollywood can’t beat.