Bangkok Post reviews
Shut up and dance!
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: July 3, 2012 at 10:15 pm
The Bangkok International Festival of Dance & Music is back with an extraordinary programme of performances from around the world
The Virsky National Dance Company from Ukraine opens the festival on Sept 10.
Over the past 13 years the mainstay of Bangkok's cultural ambitions has been Bangkok's International Festival of Dance & Music.
This year the festival will run from Sept 10 to Oct 14 at the Thailand Cultural Centre, and it promises a lot more action than previous years as it celebrates HM the Queen's 80th Birthday.
That the festival has never been genre-specific has been its core strength and this year, too, it reflects the diversity that the world of culture can throw at us _ from classic operas and ballets to folk dances and illusionists.
The festival will open on Sept 10 with Ukraine's Virsky National Dance Company. With every whirl and twirl the public will encounter Ukraine's myths, legends, customs and spirit.
The ensemble is matchless for their beauty and their grace, resulting in one of the most dynamic and thrilling folk dance performances ever witnessed on stage. The New York Times stated that if you wish to fathom the very depth of dance, "you must see the perfection of the women's dancing technique, the precision of turns, spins, jumps, moves and pirouettes that the men demonstrate".
On Sept 12, some "rumba flamenca" _ the music of the Gypsy Kings _ is brought to Bangkok for one show only by The Seven Kings from France.
The Gypsy Kings hailed from the Reyes and Baliardo families and took the world by storm with their music in the 1980s. Relive that magic when two original members of the group _ Pablo and Patchai Reyes _ take the stage with a new generation of musicians.
The Seven Kings continue the extraordinary legacy with upbeat rhythms and passionate vocals.
Music of the wanderers to that of street dance is a logical step. On Sept 14 and 15, Blaze, a troupe from the Netherlands, will put on a non-stop street dance show featuring the world's hottest deejays, B-boys and street dancers.
Directed by top West End director and choreographer Anthony Van Laast (Mamma Mia!, Sister Act, Batman Live), Blaze features the footwork of some of the hottest street dance choreographers today _ Chris Baldock, Ryan Chappell, Kenny Wormald, Tommy Franzen, Lyle Beniga and Mike Song.
The vibrant, energetic and innovative show has been created by a team who has worked with the likes of Kanye West, Lady Gaga and The Rolling Stones.
The festival then progresses to classical Indian dance and Hindu philosophy via the Ramayana. In Thailand, this Indian epic is reinterpreted as the masked dance of khon, but this is a rare opportunity to see it straight from the source when the Orissa Dance Company takes the stage on Sept 17. Orissa Dance Company is one of the most recognised and highly rated Indian classical dance companies known for their rendition of the Ramayana. In Bangkok, the dancers will use all nine moods, or rasas, intrinsic to Indian classical dance to narrate an episode from the epic.
The battle for the supremacy of good over evil will be delivered in Sanskrit with simultaneous translations in English and Thai.
On Sept 19, the Quasar Dance Company from Brazil will stage Up In The Mouth, a routine that tries to establish a dialogue between reality and the paradise we desire. Meanwhile, on Sept 21, the Baltic National Dance Theatre with artistic director and choreographer, Izadora Weiss, will stage Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring. Every movement reflects the rhythms and beats of this extremely complex score.
The festival then celebrates the pure joy of dance with the Spellbound Dance Company on Sept 23 as it puts a modern spin on Vivaldi's magical The Four Seasons. As the leading interpreter of contemporary Italian dance language, the company is constantly experimenting and evolving. The movements are poetic, emotive and dynamic, the bodies elegant and athletic.
From here on the festival steps into "classic" territory with Carmen, an opera in four acts by Chelyabinsk State Opera Theatre (Sept 27). Taking on another tragic love story in a symphony concert under the baton of Anton Grishanin is the Chelyabinsk State Symphony Orchestra (Sept 28) with its orchestration of Tchaikovsky's Romeo & Juliet overture followed by Rachmaninov's Rhapsody and Dvorak's Symphony No.9 (From the New World).
Another tragic romance brings us to Madame Butterfly, an opera in three acts again by Chelyabinsk State Opera Theatre (Sept 29). In this version _ one that has never been seen in Thailand _ the interaction is not just between Pinkerton and Madame Butterfly, as is usual, but also an onstage angel.
Madame Butterfly is enacted by Christina Sushkova, giving voice to her feelings, and Madame Butterfly's guardian angel and her soul is played by soprano Yelena Rotkina.
Continuing in the classical vein, the Staatsballett Berlin tackles Swan Lake in classic grandiose style (Oct 2 and 3). The 120-member ballet company, accompanied by 72 musicians, will be in Bangkok in celebration of the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Germany and Thailand.
Mixing up the genres once again, the festival puts the environment centre stage with BBC's The Planet Earth Live In Concert (Oct 5). The evening will juxtapose multi-award-winning conductor and composer George Fenton's remarkable score with a stunning documentary on the Earth's battle for survival on a screen behind the musicians.
The documentary, which took five years to produce, is culled from 15,000 hours of shooting across 200 locations. After its premiere in London, Thailand is the first country in Asia to see this spectacular compilation of images.
Then, for a magical evening of family entertainment, factor in the power of Swiss illusionist Peter Marvey, considered to be on par with David Copperfield. On Oct 9 and 10, Marvey will bring plenty of Vegas-style entertainment to Bangkok.
At a performance at Zurich's Mercedes-CSI International Horse Show, he had conjured up a "phantom wedding coach" pulled by seven white horses and escorted by a retinue of fairies, all attired in white with enormous wings. The illusion was witnessed by 40,000 people in the arena.
The festival then looks to New York's Limon Dance Company (Oct 12). Recognised as one of the world's greatest dance companies, Limon was founded in 1946 and has been at the vanguard of American dance ever since. It will share its 65th anniversary celebration with the audience by bringing a programme that spans over six decades of its history and evolution as a dance company.
On Oct 14, the curtains come down with a Latin American flavour _ Tango Legends by Mariela Maldonado and Pablo Sosa. Known for mixing equal parts playfulness and passion into performances, Mariela and Pablo are the finest exponents of this dance form in Argentina. Twelve award-winning dancers, a singer and a quintet bring to Bangkok an electrifying performance.
The Quasar Dance company from Brazil.