The premiere of Cacti, a most popular piece by Alexander Ekman begins the 2020/21 season of the Hungarian National Ballet and the Hungarian State Opera. The choreography is part of the show entitled Cactuses that also showcases dance pieces by Hans van Manen and András Lukács. At the first premiere of The Muse of France Season, the Embassy of France to Budapest and the Opera are to sign a cooperation agreement.
During his career of fifteen years, Alexander Ekman (1984) has become one of the most prominent international artist of contemporary dance. He has worked with more than 45 companies, including those of the Cullberg Ballet, the Compañia Nacional de Danza, the Bern Ballett, the Semperoper Dresden, the Norwegian National Ballet, the Swedish Royal Ballet, the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and the Boston Ballet. He was a co-choreographer at the Netherlands Dance Theatre (NDT), and taught at the renowned Juillliard School of New York.
It was for the young dance artists of the NDT that he created his hit choreography Cacti in 2010. The piece focuses on the tension and asymmetric relationship between creative artists and critics with visual design inspired by ritual practices of Tibetan monks. The performance featuring three soloists, 13 dancers and a string quartet as well as music by Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert proved a breakthrough in the career of Ekman, and it was nominated for several prestigious awards including the Olivier Award.
The Hungarian National Ballet received the rights to perform Cacti after their high-standard performance seen in Episode 31 a year ago. Soloists of the premiere are Inés Furuhashi-Huber, András Rónai and Francesco Sardella. The ensemble features Anita Tiffany Pesel, Miyu Takamori, Aglaja Sawatzki, Jessica Carulla Leon, Kristina Starostina, Mariya Nikolaeva, Asai Yuka, Iurii Kekalo, Richárd Szabó, Dumitru Taran, Dénes Darab, Valerio Antonio Palumbo and Marten Hak Guus. The string quartet are Elina Harsányi, Patrícia Fahidi, Péter Kondor and Endre Stankowsky. The staging ballet masters were Nina Botkay and Ana-Maria Lucacui with Marianna Venekei as company répétiteur.
The show also includes two pieces by the internationally renowned Dutch choreographer, Hans van Manen. 5 Tangos is accompanied by fiery music by Astor Piazzolla. Soloists are Lili Felméry and Gergely Leblanc, the pas de quatre is performed by Yuliya Golovyna, Inés Furuhashi-Huber, Gaetano Cottonaro and Dmitry Diachkov under the supervision of Edit Rujsz and György Szirb. His choreography, Trois Gnossiennes inspired by Erik Satie's compositions examines the complex nature of the relationship between man and woman. The soloists Aliya Tanykpayeva and Gergő Ármin Balázsi were instructed by Irina Prokofieva, and Mária Aradi, the original "woman" of the 1982 world premiere. Featuring on the piano is Éva Hajnal.
The staggering Whirling by András Lukács was choreographed for the Hungarian National Ballet a decade ago. The piece was inspired by the death of the writer Virginia Woolf as depicted in Stephen Dardly's film The Hours to the music of Philip Glass. Soloists of the performance are Jessica Carulla Leon and Iurii Kekalo accompanied by the ensemble of Miyu Tamakori, Anna Krupp, Artemisz Pisla, Lea Földi, Lilla Purszki, Rita Hangya, Kristina Starostina, Ildikó Boros, Dávid Molnár, Mikalai Radziush, Miklós Dávid Kerényi, Gaetano Cottonaro, kristóf Morvai, Balázs Majoros, Dénes Darab and András Rónai under the supervision of András Lukács and Marianna Venekei.
The pas de deux choreographed to the piano piece by Erik Satie is the first performance of The Muse of France Season with a French connection. This gives the opportunity for the signing of a cooperation agreement during the interval of the show between Pascale Andréani, Ambassador of France to Hungary, and Szilveszter Ókovács, general director of the Hungarian State Opera
Photo by Péter Rákossy