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Uwe Scholz: the Germany Choreographer, 6 years after his death

by Saul Marziali

November 2010

I am sure everybody remembers Uwe Scholz, the world acclaimed German choreographer, who disappeared prematurely and unexpectedly the 21st of November 2004 in Berlin at only 45 years of age. At that time he was still director and chief choreographer of the Leipziger Ballett.

Through his work as company director and as a choreographer, Uwe Scholz showed us that art, and especially ballet, can make miracles.

In 1991 Leipzig and East Germany were still devastated after almost 45 years of democratic socialism, and I remember well that no one from the west would have ever seriously considered moving and building a new successful life in the former DDR. But Uwe Scholz did. Under his leadership, the Leipziger Ballett (which I remember well because I was a soloist of it), grew to consist of 65 dancers of many different nationalities coexisting in peace and friendship under one rool. More than that, the Leipziger Ballett became world famous thanks to him and his ability to foresee a great potential in it.

Uwe Scholz was known as the "enfant prodige" of European choreography. He was only 26 when, in 1985, he was appointed director and chief choreographer of the "Zurich Ballet". Actually, he started to choreograph much earlier, in 1977 in Stuttgart, and Marcia Haydée, impressed by his unique and extremely promising talent, named Uwe Scholz resident choreographer of the "Stuttgart Ballet".

In 1990 I had the great pleasure to be cast by Uwe Scholz in the role of the Prince in his new "Firebird," which he created for the "Zurich Ballet". The role of the Firebird was danced by Vladimir Derevianko (today Carlos Acosta has also danced it) and the Princess was Uwe's muse Christine Jaroszewski, who came from New York through Basel to Zurich.

Uwe's "Firebird" is fabulous. Many companies have it in their repertoire, and the audiences of Zurich, Leipzig, Stuttgart, Lisbon, Vilnius have already had the pleasure to watch and enjoy this masterpiece. The secret of this long-lasting success is perhaps because Uwe Scholz was able to understand and feel Stravinski's oriental and mysterious sensuality and make it tangible for the eyes and soul through organic movementsin solos, duets and group scenes. As you noticed, in this version the Firebird is a man, a figure with a little bit of a male and female character. There is a sincere relationship that is beyond any carnal interest between the Firebird and the Prince, as showed by their duos and solos at the beginning and at the end of the ballet as they danced to that mesmerizing lullaby-like melody. Remember the music?

The love on the earth in its best and purest way is represented here and interpreted by the Princess and the Prince in a touching pas de deux, full of sensitivity as well as respect and admiration for each other. This is preceded by a beautiful solo danced by the Princess in her secret garden surrounded by Princesses dancing and playing with golden apples, which was designed and conceived by Dieter Schoras and Jan Skalicky. The evil world is embodied by Katschei and his "monsters". For this scene Uwe Scholz used all his greatest creativity. The monsters are overworked and stressed employees that even fall down from the chairs by tapping the same letter frenetically over and over. The evil overwhelms them, and they finally lose their rationality, and Katschei can order them now to attack the Prince!

Fortunately, the Prince still has the red ruby (in the original tale is a feather) that the Firebird gave him in case of emergency. As soon the Prince lifts up the shiny ruby the Firebird arrives with a huge menage of "jetés entrelacés" around the entire stage, followed by the famous lullaby and the apotheosis, the triumph of love over the evil. This final scene was worked out particularly well by Scholz, the scenographer Schoras and the costume designer JScalicky.

The prince, undressed (almost) by the monsters, remained at the center of the stage searching for his beloved Princess. The Princesses enter the stage with slow and simple steps, barefoot, their hair down and wet, each wearing a long white and wet tunic that leaves a wet mark on the floor as they move from upstage in concentric circles closer and closer to the Prince. The Princess is the last one joining, going directly to the Prince and concluding the perfect image of the victory of the love over evil. If, as you read read these words, you can also imagine the sublime sound of the horn and the harp of the magnificent music composed by Igor Stravinsky, then I have at least stirred your creativity and also your attention to the work of Uwe Scholz, who was one of the greatest artists and personalities of the ballet world.

Saul Marziali.

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