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Ballett Basel

'One of a Kind'

by Saul Marziali

October 10, 2011 -- Basel Opera House, Basel, Switzerland

Richard Wherlock, director and chief choreographer at Ballett Basel for the last 10 years, chose for the opening of the season 2010/11 Jiri Kylian's "One of a Kind". This marvelous company can now show eight of the great Czech master’s ballets. Richard Wherlock, when he was still dancing, had the chance to work directly with Kylian in the NDT.

With a lot of expectation, curiosity and excitement I finally watched "One of a Kind", created in 1998 by Jiri Kylian, performed by the Ballett Basel, last 10th of October at the "Basel Opera House" in Switzerland. The way the great dancers on stage interpreted this three-act ballet exceeded greatly all my expectations and impressed me deeply.

As Ayako Nakano explained to me after the run through, which I had the chance to watch in the ballet studio the day before the performance, Kylian told her: "There is in this choreography a central character, who is represented by a female dancer. She never leaves the stage. She will even remain improvising during the two intervals and the changing of the setting. She will be also the last one who will leave the stage. This woman is the conscience and awareness of the world. She is the constant element, balance and everlasting link between the past, present and future. As a castoff, she is forwarded from one to another. She is the metaphor for the endangered freedom".

Nakano's role is very hard physically and mentally. Standing up from the first row of the audience, Nakano comes onto the stage through a light road, symbolising to me her life. This is how the ballet begins. It's about life, with its up and down, its inner world and the fear and insecurity about the future. Nakano continues then to dance alone a wonderful solo; then Sol Bilbao Lucuix joins her on stage and takes over the attention. Then a couple comes in (Camille Aublé and Jorge Pérez) and continues dancing. Nakano almost never leaves the stage, always catching the attention of the spectators. Basically this is the structure of the choreography, a kind of a never ending tension created by different and changing moods and represented by solos, duos, trios, two couples and group scenes. The music collage chosen by Kylian and accompanied by a cellist, who played life on stage, contributed a lot in order to create the atmosphere required to this theme. Kylian chose music that links immediately to a kind of life soundtrack, the one of the inner world and the one accompanying us daily through the life. The choreography required first of all a great motivation and understanding of the theme by each of the dancers involved. Then a rich spectrum of emotions and a wide control of their body or instrument of expression. They should be able to move slow, fast, to jump, to turn and stop in the position, hold the balance, speed up and down, lift the partner and hold the position and all this always combined with an high level of execution. Richard Wherlock confessed to me: "You see Saul my dancers can do many different styles without any major problem". I said to him: "Yes it's true they are very intelligent, talented, sensitive and versatile”.

Therefore my warmest cogratulations to the talented artists Camille Aublé, Sol Bilbao, Emma Chadwick, Courtney Gibbs, Cinthia Labaronne, Ayako Nakano, Annabelle Peintre, Dévi-Azélia Selly, Sara Wikström, Cédric Anselme-Mathieu, Sergio Bustinduy, Claudio Costantino, Marius Dumitru, Jorge Perez, Roderick George, Diego Gutierrez, Florent Mollet, Iker Murillo. Manuel Renard and Vitali Safronkine performing that night, for their great success and wonderful qualities! My congratulations to Cristiana Sciabordi too, the first Ballet Master and former soloist of Richard Wherlock, for her clarity and professionalism, essential qualities, to me, in order to achieve results efficiently. Many Bravos to Atsushi Kitagawara, scenography, Joke Visser, costumes, and Micahael Simon, light, for their effective, artfully and tasteful work, which is complementary to Kylian's concept and unthinkably in dissociable from it.

The 6th of November the Ballett Basel will celebrate 10 years with Richard Wherlock at the head of this company with a huge event. Guests from the Paris Opera and the Bolshoi are invited as well. Since all the tickets have been sold out already, this event will be shown at the same time on the screen of the cinema right beside the Opera House in Basel.

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