The newest ballet creation of Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis for Ballet Vlaanderen premiered yesterday per live streaming on YouTube. The first 30 minutes went smoothly, while the second half included several interruptions due to technical issues. First I thought that it is my internet connection which is often unstable, but then realized that it was not only me with freezed images when reading comments in the live chat. Fortunately, the video will remain available until 28 March on YouTube (purchase access here), which is personally my favorite platform for ballet streaming, as I can watch it directly on my Smart TV without having to pair my laptop with it. And fortunately, one day it will be possible to see this ballet performance sitting in a theater, hopefully this summer?
PALMOS is a captivating ballet piece. Its leitmotiv of human interactions resonates quite well with how a lot of people feel today and what they miss the most. Andonis Foniadakis expressed this theme in duets and small ensembles danced on pointe and paired with elaborate electronic beats of Active Child, beautifully sleek costumes and expressive lighting design. The latter can be considered as an art installation in itself.
For the soundtrack of PALMOS, Foniadakis chose eight songs of Active Child from his three albums. They also collaborated through Zoom on last two songs of the ballet creation, which was an interesting and fruitful creative experience for both. This is a personal premiere for the American new wave musician and songwriter, as he has never been commissioned to create music for ballet. Also for the first time, Active Child took inspiration for his musical composition from movement – or at least from Foniadakis’s description of what that movement might look like:
"For the song UNTOUCH, it was the inability to touch, the isolation, conceived from a very dark place. I think all of us as artists have been inspired by the pandemic and the isolation it brought about. The ability to embrace someone is such a fundamental aspect of being human. I translate this kind of nostalgic emotion with chaotic melodies because that’s how it feels to me."
I have to admit that nostalgia of connections to people and cities from the past overcame me while live streaming PALMOS. Especially knowing that I will finally travel to Moscow, my home city, and will see friends and relatives for the first time after long 14 months spend in an on and off lockdown mode. It is wonderful how ballet art can bring hidden emotions and feelings to the surface - even over a TV screen!
This live streaming premiere showed that the OBV dancers are in excellent shape despite the lockdown and I loved seeing principal dancer Nancy Osbaldeston in this ballet. She has this special energy that she transmits on stage and is brilliant in contemporary dance as well as in classical ballet. I had a chance to see her in athletic dramballet SPARTACUS choreographed by Soviet ballet legend Yuri Grigorovich in the 60’s - one of the last classical ballet productions of OBV ballet which premiered in 2017. The artistic director of Ballet Vlaanderen is Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui who is one of the most sought-after contemporary ballet choreographers and who seems to have put the Company on Contemporary-Only course of development - which is not unusual nowadays and might be even better for the dancers who do not have to switch to purely classical technique, while mostly being engaged in contemporary dance. The next program of OBV ballet is set for 25 June and will be also presented in live streaming. It will be the ballet FALL, which was the first piece created by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui for the Company in his role as newly appointed artistic director back in 2015:
The ticket for this Premiere in live streaming can be purchased here for 10 Euro.