Nestled in North Rhine-Westphalia, the city of Dortmund has been known for centuries for its massive colliery. Since 1909, the eighth-largest city in Germany also became associated with Borussia Dortmund, one of Europe’s most famous soccer clubs. Most recently, thanks to the tireless efforts of Tobias Ehinger, general director of Theater Dortmund, the city has also become a hub for culture.
Over the past two years, Ehinger and his team worked to expand the reach of cultural engagement throughout the city, bringing performances and rehearsals into unconventional spaces. At the same time, the company managed to outline working conditions that were in line with COVID restrictions, ensuring that the theater’s employees kept their jobs throughout the challenging period.
Next week, Ballett Dortmund, including 26 dancers and musicians, will arrive in Israel to perform a mixed program conceived by artistic director and company choreographer Xin Peng Wang. The show is danced to live music. Performances will be held at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, the Jerusalem Theatre and the Haifa Auditorium. The program will include The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude by William Forsythe, The Rite of Spring by Edward Clug, Cacti by Alexander Ekman and Paradiso by Xin Peng Wang.
Ballet director Xin Peng Wang
Peng Wang, 65, has been the ballet director for Theater Dortmund since 2003. In that time, he has created more than 40 ballets as well as establishing a youth company, the NRW Junior Ballet. Peng Wang was born and raised in China. He began dancing at an early age and even studied choreography. His career took off as a dancer for Peking Central Dance Company; however, Peng Wang found himself more at home artistically in Germany.
“The move to Germany and a second study period at Pina Bausch’s high school opened a completely new world of body language and dance theater to me. And, of course, the rich German theater landscape opened doors for me as choreographer and later as an artistic director,” explained Peng Wang in a recent interview with the Magazine.
Along with creating works for stage, Peng Wang has also collaborated with film artists, most notably Chinese director Zhang Yimou.
In curating the program for Ballett Dortmund’s first engagement in Israel, Peng Wang felt it was important that, first and foremost, he was inspired by the works. “I am always looking for the most exciting choreographers. I am simply taking what I personally consider the most interesting.
“I am always looking for the most exciting choreographers. I am simply taking what I personally consider the most interesting.”Xin Peng Wang
“I like contrasts, emotion, and humor. In Cacti, Alexander Ekman uses the dancers’ bodies and the musicians with humor to create an original live symphony made of beatings, sounds, breath, words and strings. In The Rite of Spring, Edward Clug turns the stage to a lake, smooth and transparent, which gives him an extraordinary way for sliding dance-movement qualities. The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is a jaw-dropping, technically demanding dance, which challenges the dancers to virtuosity, done as a tribute to the great masters of classical dance; Petipa and Balanchine.”
Into this mix, he threw one of his own works. “My work is all about the themes, which must inspire me. This is either music or literature. I am always aiming to find compositions or topics which are not introduced in ballet yet. Paradiso is a part of the Dante trilogy I made for Dortmund,” he explained. “The music was originally composed for the production. It has been important to me to find an abstract, very personal type of a paradise. It’s a personal liberation of all boundaries shown in the other parts of the trilogy, and it is pure dance!”
Peng Wang is certain that this program, while jam-packed, will successfully showcase his dancers’ versatility.
Ballett Dortmund “is a ballet company with the quality of classical ballet and the innovative spirit of modernity,” he said. “The dancers have strong personalities which come through in the performances. We try each time to inspire the audience, to connect with them, to touch them so they feel that something happened during the show.” ■
Ballett Dortmund will perform at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center June 8-11 (www.israel-opera.co.il), the Jerusalem Theatre on June 12 (www.jerusalem-theater.co.il) and the Haifa Auditorium on June 14 (www.ethos.co.il).