August 7, 2010 (Becket, Mass.) – Swedish contemporary dance company, The Göteborg Ballet, makes its American debut at Jacob’s Pillow August 18–22. The company will perform a full-length production, 3xBoléro; three diverse works each inspired in a different way by Maurice Ravel’s classic score, “Boléro.” The works that comprise 3xBoléro showcase twenty classically-trained dancers from this leading Nordic company and three leading European choreographers. While Ravel’s score provides the artistic impetus to 3xBoléro, the pieces utilize a unique spectrum of composers and dance vocabularies, in musical styles ranging from minimalist electronica through full scale orchestral recordings.
Walking Mad, choreographed by Johan Inger in 2001 for Nederlands Dans Theater, features a traditional rendition of Ravel’s “Boléro” spliced with Arvo Pärt’s “Fur Alina.” Inger was captivated by an old black and white television recording of “Boléro” with the conductor Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic: “A theatrical image; in the beginning the conductor is very controlled, well combed and correct in his entire conductor image, but parallel to the musical crescendo he becomes increasingly dramatic and excited, as though entering into madness, in an uncontrolled state.” Walking Mad, which has also been popularly performed by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, features an eight-foot set piece that dancers move around the stage; doors open, wall sections separate, and dancers lay the wall down and dance on it. As The Chicago Sun-Times described it; “Part sexy, madcap silent film with party scenes and crazy chases to nowhere and a strong sense of playful inanity reminiscent of the Marx brothers and part Scandinavian winter blues… it has a true touch of madness and dancer about it, with a central architectural element—a great slatted gray timber folding wall on wheels—helping to create a multitude of strange, almost dreamlike states.”
OleroB, by Finnish choreographer Kenneth Kvarnström, takes a sleek, minimalist approach. The music suggests “Boléro” without lifting straight from the composition; the steady thrum of Ravel’s composition sits in the background of Jukka Rintamäki’s electronic score. With sweeping movement and intricate partnering, this piece was the first that Kvarnstrom created after completing his tenure as Director of Dansens Hus in Stockholm. The design of OleroB has a futuristic edge, with sculptural, monochromatic costumes and black and white set elements.
The third piece in 3xBoléro is Episode 17, a work for nineteen dancers by Alexander Ekman. Ekman belongs to the younger generation of Nordic choreographers and has created work for Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballet Junior de Genève (Switzerland), Royal Swedish Ballet, Stockholm 59° North, and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. Episode 17 is a collection of solos, duets, trios, and ensemble dancing, set to a score incorporating spoken word with traditional renditions of “Boléro” and a “Boléro”-inspired piece by jazz composer Nat Simon. The score also samples “Rock ‘n’ Flamenco” by Jan Davis and the Spain Gang. The dancers wear black wigs throughout, and their portrayal of various characters within this piece is by turns funny, ironic, and poignant.
Pillow audiences will have a chance to hear Artistic Director Johannes Öhman discuss 3xBoléro in a PillowTalk discussion on Saturday, August 21 at 4pm. The PillowTalk will juxtapose Öhman’s examination of the “Boléro” theme with topics by The Clark Art Institute’s Richard Kendall. Kendall will speak about the Clark’s current exhibit, Picasso Looks at Degas.
An integral part of orchestral repertoires all over the world, Ravel’s musical composition “Boléro” epitomizes Ravel’s preoccupation with restyling and reinventing dance movements. It was originally composed as a ballet commissioned by Russian ballerina Ida Rubinstein. The piece lasts approximately fifteen minutes, and repeats each of the theme’s two parts nine times in the same key, using different orchestrations to vary the texture and to create a gradual and spectacular crescendo. Before “Boléro,” Ravel had composed large scale ballets, such as Daphnis et Chloé, created for the Ballets Russes, suites for the ballet such as the second orchestral version of Ma Mère l’Oye, and one-movement dance pieces such as La Valse. It was one of the last pieces he composed before illness forced him into retirement.
The Göteborg Ballet, which is part of The Göteborg Opera, has a growing reputation in Sweden and on the global dance scene. It is the largest contemporary dance company in the Nordic countries today with some forty classically trained dancers. Over the last decade the company has morphed from its classical roots to become a contemporary dance company.
Many of the great choreographers of the world, such as Nacho Duato, Mats Ek, Jirí Kylián, William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin, Stijn Celis, and Wim Vandekeybus have worked with The Göteborg Ballet in recent years.
Since 2007, Johannes Öhman has held the helm of this company. Prior to The Göteborg Ballet, Öhman served as both a dancer and company director with Stockholm 59°North, a contemporary dance ensemble which has become a firm Pillow favorite since its world debut at the festival in 1997. Although this is Öhman’s first trip to the Pillow with The Göteborg Ballet, he performed at the Pillow more than once during his tenure at Stockholm 59°North.
ABOUT JOHANNES ÖHMAN: Born in 1967, Johannes Öhman started dancing at age fourteen. He studied at the Royal Swedish Ballet School and went on to become a soloist with The Royal Swedish Ballet. He won the Paris Opera Prix Rayonnement in the 1986 International Paris Competition, and in the same year he was a finalist at The International Ballet Competition in Varna.
Johannes Öhman has worked as a teacher with The Cullberg Ballet, The Academy of Ballet in Stockholm, and The Royal Swedish Ballet. Between 2002 and 2007 he was the Artistic Director of Stockholm 59° North, a contemporary company comprised of Royal Swedish Ballet soloists that regularly tours both in Sweden and internationally.
Performance and Ticket Information
Wednesday, August 18 through Saturday, August 21 at 8pm
Saturday, August 21 and Sunday, August 22 at 2pm
Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob’s Pillow Scholars-in-Residence are offered in Blake’s Barn 30 minutes before every performance. A free Post-Show Talk will be held directly after the performance on Thursday, August 19.
Tickets range from $58-63.
Tickets on sale now online jacobspillow.org, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at Jacob’s Pillow. Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA, 01223 (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2). The Jacob’s Pillow campus and theaters are handicapped-accessible.
Free Events at the Pillow August 18–22
Free “Inside/Out” Performance – Jennifer Nugent
NEW TIME Wednesday, August 18, 6:15pm Inside/Out
A dancer with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Jennifer Nugent presents I’d Go Out With You, a duet for two women about finding yourself through another person, that employs close partnering and adoring movement.
Free “PillowTalk” –Responding Creatively to Tragedy
NEW DAY Thursday, August 19, 5pm Blake’s Barn
Choreographer Lucy Guerin’s Structure and Sadness is rooted in the collapse of an Australian bridge, harnessing this tragic event to create a work of uncommon poignancy. Here she discusses how she developed this work, and reflects on other dances inspired by tragedy.
Free “Inside/Out” Performance – Amy Marshall Dance Company
NEW TIME Thursday, August 19, 6:15pm Inside/Out
A former dancer with Taylor 2, Amy Marshall “sets out tricky choreographic challenges… with great fun and intelligence” (Back Stage). Her ensemble of accomplished dancers presents Marshall’s provocative choreography, weaving classical movement with a contemporary edge.
Free “Inside/Out” Performance – Zach Morris and Tom Pearson of Third Rail
NEW TIME Friday, August 20, 6:15pm Inside/Out
Bessie-Award-winning choreographers Zach Morris and Tom Pearson fuse dreamlike images with bold dancing to create Undercurrents, a contemplation of love, infatuation, and connection in modern America, influenced by the artists’ family histories.
Free “PillowTalk” – Picasso Look at Degas / Others Look at Boléro
Saturday, August 21, 4pm Blake’s Barn
The Clark Art Institute’s Richard Kendall discusses the Clark’s current exhibit on how Degas influenced Picasso, while the Göteborg Ballet’s Johannes Öhman talks about his company’s diverse explorations of Ravel’s “Boléro.”
Free “Inside/Out” Showing – The School at Jacob’s Pillow – Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance
NEW TIME Saturday, August 21, 6:15pm Inside/Out
Chet Walker, Artistic Director of WALKERDANCE and co-conceiver of the Broadway hit Fosse, with Broadway stars and music director Steve Marzullo, showcase dancers of The School in new work created during three intensive program weeks preparing for A Jazz Happening, a benefit for The School on August 22.