Eyeblinking with Bavarian Junior Ballet Munich

Seasons is the theme and title of the Bavarian Junior Ballet Munich’s program, which they will perform in Haifa, Herzliya and Jerusalem this month.

 THE BAVARIAN Junior Ballet Munich perform Maria Barrios’ creation ‘Eyeblink’ (photo credit: ZENNA)
THE BAVARIAN Junior Ballet Munich perform Maria Barrios’ creation ‘Eyeblink’
(photo credit: ZENNA)

One of the great complexities of the human experience is the body’s ability to forget the sensation of cold when it is hot and visa versa. Each winter, we cannot fathom what summer is and each summer, we struggle to remember the feeling of a cold breeze. And yet, each winter is summer on a different part of the planet. This thought was the basis for Maria Barrios’ creation Eyeblink, which will be performed by the Bavarian Junior Ballet Munich during their upcoming tour to Israel.

“My idea about the piece is that we know what the seasons are and what they are supposed to be in regard to our moods and what they create in our emotions. In Israel, it could be summer while in Argentina it is deep winter. There are different seasons in the world at the same time and we each have our internal season, that we carry within ourselves. We can make our internal season with an ‘eyeblink’. Perhaps it is cold and winter outside but by our circumstances we feel very summery and warm, and the opposite. It’s about internal seasons and how you can make your own season in spite of the weather,” says Barrios over the phone.

Barrios, 57, was born and raised in Venezuela. When recounting her story, she admits that it sounds more like a film script than real life.

“My story is very long, starting from very young, professionally dancing in the National Ballet of Canada and companies in Europe. I had quite a large career that started very young, and it started from dancing with Rudolph Nureyev for three years and then dancing in the world, in Switzerland and Italy. Later on, I was in Venezuela, and I met Offer Zaks, my husband and partner, and we built a large career together. In Venezuela we were called to make a dance company, which we did together, and it was extremely successful. We were there for 18 years and we danced with this company, the Contemporary Ballet of Caracas, with which we danced all over the world, including Israel.”

THE BAVARIAN Junior Ballet Munich perform Maria Barrios’ creation 'Eyeblink.' (credit: ZENNA)THE BAVARIAN Junior Ballet Munich perform Maria Barrios’ creation 'Eyeblink.' (credit: ZENNA)

Season after season, Barrios and Zaks propelled their new company into the limelight, first locally and later internationally. In 1999, when Hugo Chavez was elected as Venezuela’s president, the company began to encounter difficulties. “We were working in Venezuela with an extremely successful company and audiences, and then, one day, because of a political decision regarding Israel, we were completely cut off and had no backing. We continued with private support and so on. It became a threat to our life there. It was some kind of exodus. We had to leave,” she remembers.

From subtle hints about the content of their creations to outright threats, the government made it clear that the Contemporary Ballet of Caracas and its founders were no longer welcome in Venezuela. “Offer is Israeli and has his family here, I had been many times here we decided we would come to Israel and that’s how I arrived here. Out of all this you must recreate yourself and Israel has given me a base and a home.”

Since settling in Israel in 2011, Barrios has focused her energies on training young dancers for a life in ballet and contemporary dance. Her program for young dancers is in its fifth year and has already seen several students find employment in major companies around Europe. Another facet of her work with young dancers came to fruition in the collaboration with the Munich Junior Ballet.

“It’s a very interesting company. They have their own repertoire, and this is really wow! They do Jirí Kylián, Théophile Gautier, William Forsythe and George Balanchine. What is big in modern ballet, in the contemporary dance based on ballet, they get. In the two years the dancers are in the junior company, they get that experience working with major choreographers from all over the world,” she says.

For Eyeblink, Barrios used two compositions that speak of seasons: Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi and the same-titled piece by Astor Piazzolla. “I made the piece in October 2019; the music was something very new. It was 100 years to Piazzolla, I had already used his music on other works in China and for Ballet Hispanico. I had worked with his music before, around the world. I wanted to try Four Seasons of Piazzolla and connected it to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It came out amazing. It isn’t Piazzolla’s most popular music, but it is wonderful. The premiere was at the Staad Theater in Munich and then they did it a few more times and then COVID-19 happened. Now, we’re getting back to it.”

In fact, seasons is the theme and title of the Bavarian Junior Ballet Munich’s program, which they will perform in Haifa, Herzliya and Jerusalem this month. Eyeblink will be joined by Un Ballo by Jirí Kylián, Ballet 102 by Eric Gauthier and Immortal Beloved by Jörg Mannes.

The Bavarian Junior Ballet Munich will perform in Israel from March 9-15. For more information, visit: www.staatsoper.de/en/junior-ballet.