CONVERGENCE OF WORLD-CLASS TALENT
Bangkok : International Festival
of Dance and Music
Nalinee Nune Brepson & Catherine Vanesse
8 September 2017
Bangkok’s 19th International Festival of Dance and Music brings to Bangkok an eclectic collection of performances, from classical ballets to Broadway Musicals.
Come september and bangkok gets ready for the biggest cultural extravaganza this city has ever known. Now in its 19th year, Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance and Music has gone from strength to strength.
The journey began in 1999 rather modestly with six performances and 200 artistes; today the festival is spread over six weeks with more than a thousand artistes taking part.
“The classical arts component has always been an important part of the festival, the audiences expect it but the journey has not been easy: classic ballets and operas had to be introduced to an audience entirely unfamiliar with them. Over the years, however, the audience not only learnt to appreciate classical art forms like ballets but became true afficionados. This year, tickets were overwhelmingly welcomed by the public. Some shows received a full-house booking after only one week of sales,” states Mr. Sittikun Boon-itt, Vice-President of Bangkok’s 19th International Festival of Dance and Music.
This year ballet comes in for a great deal of attention. Giving the audiences their fix of this art form are: from Russia Ekaterinburg Ballet & Opera Theatre, Bashkir State Opera and Ballet Theatre, Malandain Ballet Biarritz from France and Stuttgart Ballet from Germany.
Ekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre is one of the oldest opera and ballet theatres in Russia and the best ballet company in Russia. The company is presenting two landmarks classical ballets: two-act Katya & Prince of Siam (11 Sept) and three-act Cinderella (13 Sept).
The brand new production of the romantic Katya & Prince of Siam will see its World Premiere in Bangkok. With libretto by Yana Temiz and music by Pavel Ovsyannikov, this is the tale of Prince Chakrabongse and his romance with a beautiful Russian girl: Katya. The young prince has been sent by his father the King of Siam to the elite Page Corps in Russia, a move meant to cement diplomatic ties between Russia and Siam. The ballet incorporates elements of Thai classical dance and is choreographed by Vasily Medvedev of Bolshoi Theatre, also an Honoured Artist of Estonia. Conducting the orchestra is Mikhai Granovski of Bolshoi Theatre.
Also from Russia comes Bashkir State Opera and Ballet Theatre, the home company of the ballet great Rudolf Nureyev. In Bangkok, the theatre will present two ballets: three-act Spartacus (15 Sept) and three-act Le Corsaire (17 Sept). Both ballets are choreographed and staged personally by the legendary Yuri Grigorovich.
These four Russian ballet productions also mark the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Russia. The shows are performed with a full, live orchestra band.
The next ballet offering comes from France: Beauty and the Beast, by Malandain Ballet Biarritz (2 Oct). One of the most important companies on the French choreographic landscape Malandain Ballet Biarritz, under the direction of Thierry Malandain, is recognised for its take on contemporary ballet. Thierry Malandain looks at Beauty and the Beast not as the stereotypical fairy-tale romance but as dark a coming-of-age story, an allegorical tale focusing on the portrayal of the artist’s inner demons through the Beast’s duality.
Taming of the Shrew by one of the best ballet companies in the world, Stuttgart Ballet (18-19 October), a hallmark production of the ballet company, rounds off the ballet offering this year. John Cranko’s ballet, in two acts, is based on the classic William Shakespeare’s tale. Set to the music of Kurt-Heinz Stolze (after Domenico Scarlatti), this is one of the greatest ballet comedies of the 20th century.
Moving on, connoisseurs of western classical music are assured a spectacular season with symphony concerts by Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra (24 Sept) and Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra (14 Oct).
Complementing the classics is flamenco, Torera (22Sept) and Carmen (23 Sept), by Antonio Andrade Flamenco Company from Spain led by the legendary Antonio Andrade and a Broadway musical: West Side Story, from USA (5-8 Oct).
The popularity of the Broadway musical is unquestionable. With six stagings over four days (5-8 Oct) West Side Story from USA is all set to conqueror hearts with its provocative finger snapping and whirling skirts.
Ensuring that the Festival has something for everybody, the 19th edition features the illusionist Peter Marvey with his show WOW! World of Wonder (28-29 Sept), and the Flying Superkids from Denmark (19-20 Sept) with singers, dancers and award-winning acrobats.
Thailand Culture Centre
From September 11 to October 19, 2017