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 Post subject: NBT's "Requiem"
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 1:44 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Requiem
By Stephanie Ferguson for The Guardian
&nbsp

Northern Ballet Theatre has taken a bold step away from narrative dance dramas to bring Birgit Scherzer's arresting, abstract work to the UK. It is a powerful, surreal exploration of humankind's dance with death, set to a dramatic rearrangement of Mozart's Requiem.

With its flurries of action for 15 dancers, and not a pointe shoe in sight, the work gives the company the chance to shine as an ensemble. It teems with symbols, such as a giant, rigid overcoat that stands for Mozart's father, and has a fast, quirky and inventive language that hints at Kylian and Graham. Requiem feels so fresh that it is hard to believe it was made in 1991 for the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death.

With the Leeds Festival Chorus and a quartet of soloists augmenting the NBT orchestra, it sounded celestial even before the Grim Reaper led us up the stairway to heaven. Death, danced with stealthy grace by Jonathan Ollivier, is a kind of oriental priest, sporting a black stripe down his face and body to show the division of souls.

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<small>[ 17 February 2003, 02:45 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: NBT's "Requiem"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2003 3:26 am 
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Requiem!!
By Donald Hutera for The Times


COULD titles, or cities, be cursed? Last week the Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Company presented Darshan Singh Bhuller’s sincere, topical and clumsy dance drama Requiem. Fast on its heels comes Northern Ballet Theatre in German choreographer Birgit Scherzer’s high-flown but unedifying spectacle, Requiem!!

Scherzer is a colleague of NBT’s artistic director David Nixon from his dancing days in Berlin. She created the piece in 1991, in observance of the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. You might well wish she hadn’t, just as you question Nixon’s judgment in importing it to the UK. Those two exclamation points are a tip-off of Scherzer’s ghastly, stentorian excesses.
Working from a heavy-handed concept and scenario by Matthias Kasier, Scherzer rearranges Mozart’s unfinished choral score as the motive for a hyperactive meditation on mortality. Brigitte Benner’s set is a grey-walled holding chamber into which dancers are spat out.

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Dancing beautifully on Mozart's grave
By MARY BRENNAN for The Herald

High up on a stark, white wall hangs an empty chair. Late eighteenth-century, by the cut of its frame. It's part of the set design for Requiem!! - the latest addition to Northern Ballet Theatre's repertoire which has one Scottish showing, at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre next week, when the SCO Chorus will sing the accompanying Mozart live.

Curiosity dictates, of course, that when choreographer Birgit Scherzer has a free moment during technical rehearsals, one has to ask about that isolated chair. "It's Mozart's chair," is the prompt response. "And it's empty because no-one else can ever fill it."

Such staunch conviction carries through into the piece itself, though hers is not phoney-reverential admiration.

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 Post subject: Re: NBT's "Requiem"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2003 4:40 am 
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From the early reviews it looks as though this will be one of those works which evokes sharp divisions among the critics.


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 Post subject: Re: NBT's "Requiem"
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2003 4:08 am 
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Requiem!!, Grand Theatre, Leeds
Dance to the music of death by Nadine Meisner for The Independent

Northern Ballet Theatre's Requiem!! (why have one exclamation mark when you can have two?) is story-less, interval-less and lasts just 75 minutes; all of which makes it a big departure from the company's habitual product. For that alone, I'd offer applause – that, plus the wholehearted and brave performances from the company's orchestra (under John Pryce-Jones's baton), the singers (the Leeds Festival Chorus led by four soloists) and, on stage, the dancers.

Receiving its British premiere, Requiem!! was created by the German choreographer Birgit Scherzer for the Saarbrücken Ballet in 1991, the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death.

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 Post subject: Re: NBT's "Requiem"
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2003 4:12 am 
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Wouldn’t be in their shoes
NBT’s interpretatioan of Mozart’s Requiem is slightly too off-the-wall, but Sadler’s Wells had some welcome visitors, says David Dougill for The Sunday Times


On the one hand, it is ambitious and impressive of Northern Ballet Theatre to stage a dance production that requires live music in a big way: not only its own orchestra, but the massed singers of the Leeds Festival Chorus and four soloists performing Mozart’s Requiem. On the other hand, the title of this newly imported spectacle by the German choreographer Birgit Scherzer, previously unknown here, is Requiem!! — and those double exclamation marks sound a warning note.
The music is rearranged to suit Scherzer and her scenarist Matthias Kaiser’s three-part structure, exploring the omnipresence of death, and by the time we reach the closing bars, with the cast all holding umbrellas, and the one carried by the figure of Death himself exploding into flames and making us jump, we have endured a fair lambasting of angst and symbolism.

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Float like a Butterfly and sting like Mozart's Requiem
By Teri Laing for Scotland on Sunday

IN A coming together of all things powerful, provocative and awe-inspiring, Northern Ballet Theatre has taken a step over to the dark side with the Scottish premiere of Requiem. This ain’t no Nutcracker, as Mozart’s classic plunges the dancers into a world of darkness and forces us all to come face to face with our deepest fear: death. The production certainly isn’t for those who like their dance lighthearted, dreamy and carefree, and marks a significant maturing of the company.

Part one of the performance illustrates death’s hold over us all, part two introduces us to Mozart and the two women in his life and part three comes with a solemn warning of society’s destructive effect on modern man. Not for the faint-hearted, then?

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 Post subject: Re: NBT's "Requiem"
PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2003 2:16 am 
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Death and the maiden
Choreographer Birgit Scherzer was forced to take a walk on the dark side with her celebration of Mozart’s life, writes Kelly Apter for The Scotsman

Starting a new job can be a complicated experience. On the one hand, you want to fit in; but on the other, you want to make your mark, shake things up a little. Birgit Scherzer faced just such a dilemma in 1991, when she took over the reigns of Germany’s Saarbrücken Staatstheater Ballet.

An accomplished dancer and choreographer for many years, this was Scherzer’s first directorship and, despite the clutch of awards already decorating her mantle, she had much to prove. As luck would have it, her arrival coincided with the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death, an event which Germany was treating with much pomp and ceremony. Scherzer’s first assignment in her new job was to select a Mozart composition and choreograph to it. Which, given the man’s prolific outpourings, should have been easy.

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 Post subject: Re: NBT's "Requiem"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2003 7:14 am 
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No less than three pieces today from The Scotsman Group about "Requiem!!":

So you can have too much of a good thing
By THOM DIBDIN for The Evening News (Edinburgh)

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MYSTERIOUS and haunting, Northern Ballet Theatre’s production of Requiem!! is beautiful to listen to, but ultimately underwhelms by being too complex.

The idea behind the piece is pure inspiration. A choreographic interpretation of Mozart’s own setting of the Requiem - the piece of music which the composer was still writing at his death aged 35, in 1791, and was completed by his pupil.

As a piece of music, the Requiem is ripe for interpretation. In its form it is much more dramatic than most settings of church music of the time. It’s more like an opera in the way the different parts of the choir and the different soloists work together to reflect the ideas of the solemn mass.

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Last night's first night
By KELLY APTER for The Scotsman

WITHIN moments of Birgit Scherzer’s Requiem!! opening, you could tell it was going to be a show to remember.

A long corridor leading to a shadowy doorway, snow gently falling on to the stage, and the heartbreaking sound of Mozart’s Mass for the Dead. Before the dancers had even arrived we were enraptured, so breathtaking were the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Chorus.

But as ever, Northern Ballet Theatre were an able match for the talent in the pit.

Created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death, Requiem!! has two central characters - Man and Death.

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Ollivier to lead death in a merry dance
By RORY FORD for The Scotsman

THERE must be something sinister about Jonathan Byrne Ollivier, junior principal artist with Northern Ballet Theatre.

In the past, he’s essayed roles such as Dracula, Mr Hyde, and the brutish - though graceful - Stanley Kowalski in the well-received ballet of A Streetcar Named Desire for the perennial Festival Theatre favourites.

And his latest challenge for NBT’s Requiem!!, which receives its Scottish premiere in Edinburgh tonight? Why, Death of course. Talk about typecasting.

"I don’t know why but it’s always been that way," laughs Rambert Dance School graduate Ollivier, 25, of his sinister status. "I always get the baddie parts which, fortunately, I enjoy ."

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 Post subject: Re: NBT's "Requiem"
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2003 6:14 pm 
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Review from the Telegraph.

Quote:
British opera-house boards have been known to forbid the use of musical masterpieces for choreography on the grounds that dance could only look footling alongside them; in Europe, though, they feel no such hesitation. Handel's Messiah? Schubert's Winterreise? Mozart's Requiem? No problem for Birgit Scherzer, a German whose choreography for the Mozart has been brought by Northern Ballet Theatre's new artistic director, David Nixon, into the Leeds-based company.

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 Post subject: Re: NBT's "Requiem"
PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2003 5:43 am 
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Review in the Sunday Herald.

Quote:
How do choreographers pick tunes to set their steps too? One rule of thumb is avoiding works of genius unless you're pretty sure you can do them justice.
With Requiem!! Birgit Scherzer seems to have encountered no such dilemma. In this 70-minute ensemble work set to Mozart's masterpiece (which lacks the deeply unnecessary exclamation marks) the German dance-maker plays master remixer with the score and lays on choreography and tortured meaning with a trowel.

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