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.
I am writing to you from Mainz, where Stephen Dellatre’s ballet company will perform their company premiere of my choreography MatchBox. Maybe some of you still remember this little work which I created for the dancers of the Stuttgart Ballet. The world premiere was at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix 2015 on the Court of the Porsche Arena and can still be watched on the internet. Back then I had the idea to send two ballerinas in the arena, surrounded by their male colleagues and team members. Their pointe shoes were ruined after each performance because of the sandy ground which is not ideal for dance – but now in Mainz this will hopefully not be the case. Still, the men dance in sports shoes and the ladies on pointe, but without the arena and the excitement of the tournament. I will now watch the last rehearsals with lights and costumes before I send those six adorable dancers from Mainz into their intimate “arena”.
As soon as I am back in Stuttgart, I will be dancing in Krabat, the mixed repertory evening SEDUCTION! and continuing to work on my second commission for the Stuttgart Ballet for the mixed repertory evening NIGHT PIECES. I hope you are all well and that you will be there for the premiere on March 24, 2017! Let us welcome spring with an open heart!