The Norwegian National Ballet | New management, new ballet season in Oslo
A new Firebird by Liam Scarlett, Jo Strømgren directing and choreographing Orpheus and Eurydice, and A Swan Lake by Alexander Ekman: With her first season programme, ballet director Ingrid Lorentzen is staking out a new course for The Norwegian National Ballet.
In 2012, Ingrid Lorentzen took over as the ballet director at the Opera in Oslo. For many years she was a principal dancer in the company, and from the 2013—2014 season she is also in charge of the repertoire.
“The 59 dancers of the National Ballet maintain a formidable level. In my first season I want to show them at their best, with works by contemporary master choreographers, such as Jiří Kylián, and up-and-coming stars such as Liam Scarlett, in addition to staging the immortal classics,” says Lorentzen, who has also added house choreographers Jo Strømgren and Alan Lucien Øyen.
The programme features nine first performances, four of them full-length performances. Five new ballet pieces bear the signature of Norway’s foremost choreographers.
The opening performance, In the World of Fokine, consists of five first performances. Liam Scarlett has created a completely new Firebird with costumes by Jon Bausor, while house choreographer Alan Lucien Øyen has created a new Petrushka with scenography by Åsmund Færavaag. This is innovation in the Ballet Russes tradition – all of it put to Stravinsky’s great immortal music. Three shorter works by choreographers Ina Christel Johannessen, Daniel Proietto and Ingun Bjørnsgaard end the evening.
Yolanda Correa, Aarne Kristian Ruutu, Daniel Proietto, Gakuro Matsui, Osiel Gouneo and Camilla Spidsøe have leading roles in this Main Stage production which opens on Saturday 28 September and runs until 18 October as part of this year’s CODA Oslo International Dance Festival.
On 17 October, in Orpheus and Eurydice, The Norwegian National Ballet will join forces with their co-tenant The Norwegian National Opera. Ballet director Ingrid Lorentzen and opera director Per Boye Hansen started in their positions at the same time, and together they are considering new ways for the companies to develop, with Gluck’s opera as the first project. This is house choreographer Jo Strømgren’s debut as an operatic director, and with him he has 18 dancers, three opera soloists and the full Opera Chorus.
14 November brings us to an Evening with the Masters of Baroque, where the masters of choreography George Balanchine, William Forsythe and Jiří Kylián will meet the masters of Baroque in Concerto barocco, Steptext and Wings of Wax, for the first time with a live baroque orchestra in the pit; moreover, Liam Scarlett is creating a new work. Before the performance, the audience will have the opportunity to enjoy a new video conceptual dance work in the foyer of the opera house.
Alveberg on Dreamt Ocean, a journey through the Norwegian choreographer Kjersti Alveberg’s fabulous career, premiers on 22 March.
The Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman fills the Main Stage with water for his version of A Swan Lake with its first performance on 26 April. Based on the original Swan Lake, which was a fiasco when it was performed for the first time at the Bolshoi theatre in 1877, Ekman fantasizes freely on its creation; with the full National Ballet in costumes by Danish top designer Henrik Vibskov, the full orchestra and new music by Mikael Karlsson.
It is only a short step from this to the Petipa/Ivanov version of Swan Lake, which the National Ballet has staged in its new house to rave receptions. We will also see again John Cranko’s immortal Onegin, the Christmas stand-by The Nutcracker and the successful interaction between classic dance and hip hop in Kingwings vs. The Norwegian National Ballet.
The two house choreographers of the National Ballet will also show their own productions during the season: As a comment on Orpheus and Eurydice on the Main Stage, Alan Lucien Øyen’s drama Coelacanth, will be shown on Scene 3 in October. This had its first performance in Bergen. The Jo Strømgren Kompani will perform Czterdziesci, The Painter and The Kitchen on the same stage.
“The mythical, colourful, the music and the passion – these have been my guiding lights when putting together my first repertoire as ballet director. My desire has been to show the National Ballet at its best, with works by contemporary master choreographers such as Jiří Kylián, and also the immortal classics, the bedrock of any classical ballet company. But the greatest focus this season is on the new works, ballets that do not yet exist. The National Ballet has nine first performances waiting in the wings: Five are full-length ballets, several bearing the stylistic signature of the foremost Norwegian choreographers, and many of the new voices expand the dance expression by drawing on elements from the world of theatre. All this will create a special signature, something unique for the National Ballet. A signature work cannot be commissioned, but we can lay firm ground for it by investing in time and rehearsals.
This is why for the first time we have two house choreographers. Jo Strømgren and Alan Lucien Øyen will have permanent venues with us for their companies Jo Strømgren Kompani and winter guests. They will also create for the National Ballet, thus giving us all of seven productions spanning a wide field in ballet, from a performance for children, through dance opera to a three-act play.
The autumn starts with our major performance In Fokine’s World, from Firebird to Petrushka – five first performances in one evening, with some of the greatest music ever written. It is all from the mythical world of legendary choreographer Fokine.
Kylián, Forsythe, Balanchine and the major talent Liam Scarlett form a Baroque framework around this year’s Master Evening, while the ultimate passion and desire seduce us in John Cranco’s Onegin.
Kjersti Alveberg takes us on a retrospective journey with highlights from her fabulous career. At the opposite end of the scale Swedish choreographer star Alexander Ekman will create his first narrative ballet with the Main Stage filled with water and a completely new look at the legendary Swan Lake. No, we will not be disappointing our public by dropping the classical Swan Lake. The classical version can also be enjoyed this season, as the traditional Christmas ballet The Nutcracker.
For me it is exciting to expand the range of dancers and our audience, and this season we present last year’s success with the break dancers of Kingwings Crew interacting with the National Ballet, in addition to a dance performance with dancers aged up to 87.
I am very excited about what is to come, about the new and unknown. The 59 dancers of the National Ballet maintain a formidable level, and it is fabulous to have some of the world’s foremost dancers with us. Welcome into the music, the works, the myths and the passions performed by these phenomenal dancers!”