My first time setting Äffi. A piece that means a lot to me. Made by Marco on me in 2005. I asked him if he would make something for me because I had a benefit gala in Arnhem, the city I went to school at. He said yes and it was the first time we worked together again after his first Noverre piece ‘Chicks’ in Stuttgart.
Setting this in Hamburg is special to me. I have immense respect for this company and these dancers. The heritage they have, the way they work and dance. John of course. He brought that with him from Stuttgart and developed it. His troupe radiates a great power on and off stage. Of course I also learned a great deal in Stuttgart and now in Amsterdam and its a great feeling giving this on to young dancers. I am working with 4 dancers from the Bundesjungendballett, amazingly guided by Kevin Haigen and Yohan Stegli and 2 guys from the Hamburg Ballet School. All very talented but very different. For me very interesting. I had no idea how it would be to set this piece I know everything about. For instance, I never thought about the music. I had to make a frame and write it down to teach them. Most of it I set on text. The steps are very very detailed. They are so in my body that I sometimes have difficulty showing them slow. But its good for me, next time I will perform Äffi more precise:) The boys are incredibly fast. On the 5th day, we did a run through all together. So all the steps were tought. Chapeaux to them. Its a complex 11 minute piece. Long for a solo. Of course not perfect, but with lots of potential. On the saturday after I started cleaning. First of all the steps, the structure, but for me most interesting is, the karakter of the step, of the piece or the different sections in the piece. What it means to me, what they think of it and of course I try to tell them what Marco thought or said. Its a piece with many feelings. One will find them in the music, but also in the ‘story’ of the piece. Vulgarity, aggression, love, childhood, longing, decision and others.
How do you get major aggression or regret, sorrow and pain out of a 19 year old school boy? I don’t know yet… By showing them, talking to them, stimulating them with sounds, movement and words. One boy is very very talented, but still very young. He has problems keeping his face under control when he gets stressed about the steps (cause there are many) or when he gets tired. Then I connected a feeling or atmosphere to the steps and his face changed instantly. It was involved, as was the rest of his body. When the emotion is there, truly there, the step becomes right. Some dancers do this instinctively. Some you have to help to get this out of them. I am seeing now that I love to do that.
A person that is very important to me in this sense is Georgette Tsinguirides. Choreologist with the Stuttgart Ballet and a Stuttgart Ballet wonder herself. She is connected to the Stuttgart Ballet even before it became Stuttgart Ballet, before Cranko was even there. She worked with me on many different roles that were close to me, like Lenski and Romeo, but also roles that stood far away from me. Like Onegin and Pertruccio in Taming of the Shrew. She tough me how important it is to look at the role/part itself. What it should be like, what it should say, and how it should be done. Because no role is like the other. One should see her walk as Pertruccio. Amazing. Or see how she looks at the cover of Tatiana’s book as Onegin. She has a gift to convey the essence of a part. And that is what is the most important. The essence. Then it is up to the dancer to make it his own. Within the frame of the choreography. She also told me I shouldn’t try to dance for instance Pertruccio like Richard Cragun. First of all cause I can’t, but also because I am a totally different dancer, and person. Every dancers has to dance a role different. I am also trying to tell that to ‘my’ Äffi guys now. I have to tell myself too sometimes, let them do it their way. And that’s how the piece starts living for them. And for me. And that’s beautiful to see and be a part of.