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Beethoven - Bruckner:
Uwe Scholtz and the Leipzig Ballet

By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 12 February 2001 - The work of Uwe Scholtz, the German choreographer too rarely seen in France, possesses every quality that one can dream a classical contemporary choreography should. His ballets contain an unsought for spontaneous originality, great visual beauty and emotion, the stamp of his own freshness and generosity, and above all, an exceptional musicality, hallmark of the orchestra conductor he wanted to be as a child. Moreover, he has managed to imprint this very special quality on all his dancers who give significance to each note and nuance of the music.

In the works presented at the Theatre of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines recently, Scholtz visualises the score, treating dance as though it was one of the instruments within the partition, so much so, that if the sound had been turned off you would still to a degree, have had it in front of your eyes. Unlike other choreographers who use music as a support for their ideas Uwe Scholtz has the tremendous gift of enabling the spectator to see into the composer's mind, adding to a greater understanding of the orchestral score.

The two well-contrasted ballets presented by the Leipzig company were both masterpieces.

The evening began with Beethoven's Symphony N° 7, an abstract, grandiose work first created for the Ballet of Stuttgart in 1991, revised and danced by his own troupe two years later, and yet again modified by the passage of time today.

Ballet of Leipzig in Beethoven
Choreography: Uwe Scholtz / Photo: Andreas Birkigt

Scholtz' profound knowledge of the score was apparent the moment the curtain rose on thirty-two dancers in pearl -grey, for a few seconds immobile, but who were then pushed by the music into constantly moving groups of three, their arms uplifted with the grace and precision of giant birds. They then seemed to erupt from the stage in a rapid, complex, but fluid choreography in perfect harmony with the rhythm and melodies of the music, described by Wagner as, "the apotheosis of dance".

The first movement was interpreted by Roser Munoz, bursting with youth and vitality, partnered by Sven Kohler, while the second movement was danced by the splendid couple formed by Sibylle Naundorf and Christopher Bohm.

The second work, more intimate and dramatic, inspired by the third movement of Bruckner's Symphony N° 8, was an excruciatingly beautiful thirty-five minute pas de deux, which left the audience drained and breathless. At the end there was a stunned silence before the thunderous ovation broke out.

The Japanese ballerina Kiyoko Kimura and the magnificent Christopher Bohm, who has danced in all Scholtz' creations since 1990, illuminated the music which had never, ever seemed so full of meaning. Dressed in blue, against a back-cloth first of darkness, then of endless sky, they were refined and elegant; yet always tender and lyrical. In the final sublime moments, when darkness descended again, Bohm lifted his partner by her arms alone, sliding her slowly away into another world where beauty, purity and goodness prevailed. Death, resignation, transfiguration? However one chose to interpret the work, the heights of emotion reached brought tears to more than one , interpreters and audience included.

Bruckner ballet by Uwe Scholtz
Kiyoko Kimura and Christopher Bohm in Bruckner's 8th Symphony
Choreography: Uwe Scholtz / Photo: Andreas Birkigt

Lighting, decor and costumes, in each case, so right for the work, were also by Uwe Scholtz.

Related articles: An Interview with Uwe Scholtz

Patricia Boccadoro writes on dance in Europe. She contributes to The Guardian, The Observer and Dancing Times and was dance consultant to the BBC Omnibus documentary on Rudolf Nureyev. Ms. Boccadoro is the dance editor for

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