r BALLET Peter Schaufuss Ballet
Edinburgh Fe5tival Theatre, Mon 23-—Sat 28 Mar.
Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker, all in one week? No - not an endurance test, but an opportunity for Peter Schaufuss Ballet's director to prove you can get new audiences into classical dance.
Schaufuss is probably best known here for his work with London Festival Ballet in the 19805, and for a visit during the Edinburgh Festival in 1991 as guest choreographer for Deutsch Oper of Berlin. Now he returns to Edinburgh with the UK’s only performances of his reworkings of the Tchaikovsky ballets. Each is slimmed down to two acts, about two hours and a company of just 23 dancers. 'What I'm doing is not down-scaled versions of big productions,’ Schaufuss insists. ’l’m using the three magic titles of the classical repertoire, but with a new way of seeing them, more to do with the music.‘
Ballet's problem, according to Schaufuss, is that it has lagged behind opera and other art-forms in
Sensual healing: Peter Schaufuss Ballet in Sleeping Beauty
reworking and updating its classics. ’Dance has lost audiences by not being as exciting as it was, even in the 19805,’ he believes. 'The public gets fed upwith never being surprised or challenged. It's so important not to be boring.‘
So what can these productions do to bring new audiences in? Though each ballet can be seen individually, the overall idea is a dance trilogy, with a dream theme running through: the nightmare of Swan Lake, the sensuality of Sleeping Beauty and the happiness of Nutcracker.
Designs are dramatic and simple, and the stretches of padding in the music — originally designed to give big
dance companies time to move about the stage — have been cut. This leaves the pure dance music that everyone knows and should help prevent the novice dance-goer from dozing off in the connecting sequences.
But cheap and nasty this is not - these productions have sold out in Paris, a city renowned for its discriminating audiences, and won rave reviews all over Europe. Future plans for the Schaufuss company include both a new version of Romeo And Juliet and a full- length work to a soundtrack of Elvis songs; so a surprise or two among the tutus and fairies at the Festival Theatre is a pretty good bet. (Don Morris)
BALLET Tales Of Hoffman
Glasgow: Theatre Royal, Thu 2—Sat l I Apr. Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue S—Sat 9 May.
Portrait of the artist as a young swan: guest star Adam Cooper in his famous guise
58 THE “ST 20 Mar-2 Apr 1998
Last year, the Scottish Arts Council forced Scottish Ballet to dismiss its board of directors in exchange for the release of the remaining quarter of its 1997/98 grant. In tandem With this crisis, Galina Samsova resigned after seven years as artistic director.
Now, havmg licked these wounds, the beleaguered company is on the rebound. The Christmas staging of La Fille Mal Gardee, With sets and costumes lent by Birmingham Royal Ballet, was a heartening success. A new board has been in place since last month: among its movers and shakers are Edinburgh Festival marketing director Joanna Baker, Edinburgh Festival Theatre manager Stephen Barry and veteran choreographer Robert Cohan. The company has now launched an international search for a new artistic director.
Former company dancer Kenn Burke has been acting head honcho since Samsova's August departure. It hasn’t been easy, he admits, but adds, ’The individual is not the important thing. The company is. It’s our JOb to hand over a healthy Scottish Ballet to the next generation.’
Reaching back to its creative roots,
the company is about to revive founding artistic director Peter Darrell’s popular, darkly romantic ballet, Tales Of Hoffman The idea cemented itself while Burke was watching the 36-strong ensemble perform Fil/e. ’They had the unity and onstage interaction to do Hoffman Well,’ he says. In an echo of Birmingham's friend-in-need generosity, pre-existing designs acqurred from Hong Kong Ballet Will be re-vamped.
There’s also a casting coup' erstwhile Royal Ballet dancer Adam Cooper — famous as The Swan in Adventures in Motion Pictures’ Swan Lake - Will alternate With cOmpany principals Campbell McKenzie and Vladislav Blubnov in the title role
The lead must possess accomplished classical technique in order to give a convmcmg portrayal of a man thwarted in love ’It’s right up Adam’s street,’ Burke remarks 'He’li do Justice to the ballet, and it'll be a good challenge for him.’ Burke also intimates that Scottish Ballet c0uld commission Cooper to create a new work for the company once his Tales are told. (Donald Hutera)
SCOTTISH PREMIERE The Clearing
Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Thu l9—Sun 22 Mar, then touring.
Be it pub brawls or warfare, mankind is so darned ignorant that he still reckons Violence is the best way to settle an argument. With the Troubles currently QT‘IJOYIITg renewed venom, Helen Edmundson’s award-Winning look at the Clearings in 17th century Ireland — the latest show from Scottish women’s company Stellar Quines 7- is lent disturbing relevance
Set during Cromwell’s brutal ethnic cleansing of Ireland, the action focuses on Madeleine and Robert, a couple of rich kids Whose mixed marriage 7- he’s English and she's Irish ~- brings scorn and contempt from all quarters, Priests and rebels are being humped Off on all Sides and Cromwell's ruthless policy also sees the couple’s friends and family being forCIbly dumped in the Wilderness of Connaught But as they cling to their nest followrng the birth of their child, the couple’s hopes of a bright new future are shattered after Madeleine crosses the local governor, which threatens to bring about their exile and puts their love to the ultimate test.
’Every single day, somebody is being persecuted because of the race that they belong to as part of some kind of purist regime,’ says Edmundson, who is currently adapting the piece as a screenplay. ’You Just need to look at Serbia today It’s interesting to look from a human perspective at the fear that exists behind those kind of polic ies.'
Partly inspired by a real-life friendship between a couple Who were forced to flee to Ireland after a run-in With the English authorities, the piece is essentially a love stOry rather than a baggage-laden lesson in political history, Edmundson stresses.
However, it was written in 1991 — when the Yugoslavran ciVil war was coming to an end -- and Edmundson felt moved to explore our ’clan rnentality’ and challenge the complacency at home. ’There was all this moral outrage in England With everyone thinking the Yugoslavs must be savages,’ she says. ’I wanted to bring it closer to home and say, “England did this and we'd do it again given the Circumstances” '
(Claire Prentice) a For tour dates, see page 67.
Anglo-Irish disagreement: Veronica Leer in The Clearing