The International Festival Of Choreographic Creation Iaşi 1993, 2nd Edition

Iaşi proved to be, for the second time, an excellent host for The Competition-Festival of choreographic creation with international participation, initiated last year by the ballet critic Dan Brezuleanu, the director of the Festival. The artists benefited from a modern building, that of Luceafărul Theatre, and a warm audience, who filled the house in all the five evenings of the choreographic festival, despite the fact that, quite inappropriately, there was also a festival of opera and ballet underway at the same time in Iaşi. Under the heading "remedies" for the next editions, one should list: an adequate temperature on the stage, for cold is quite a handicap for dancers, and a serious preparation of the colloquium, with topics announced beforehand. All the institutions under whose aegis the Festival was held, that is the Ministry of Culture, The Inspectorate for Culture in Iaşi, The Association of Performers, Choreographers and Musical Critics and The French Cultural Center – AFAA Iaşi, have endorsed this artistic manifestation in several aspects, and we feel bound to mention the contribution of the French Cultural Center that, in all evenings, made available for the public tapes with the most important French contemporary creators or rare films, with scenes from the history of the European dance of this century. The Festival of Choreographic Creation that is beginning to acquire prestige was also sponsored by the SOROS Foundation for an Open Society, The Iaşi European Institute, "Design 90", Radio North-East, Radio Iaşi, Vox T Radio, Iaşi TV and The Monitor. The eight choreographers that presented their works on the stage in Iaşi between 1 and 5 November produced several changes in value transforming the recent edition into one of surprises. The Ballet of the National Opera in Bucharest and the Ballet of the Opera in Timişoara didn't succeed in raising to the competition level, while the ballet troupe of the Musical Theatre from Braşov, that almost didn't exist on the Romanian choreographic scene, won the third prize. Contemp Company, last year's laureate, didn't win any prize this year, instead, the second prize was won by Orion company, which had completely disintegrated one year ago and was recomposed with great efforts by Sergiu Anghel. Finally, besides the consecrated choreographers, a young man of 19 was spectacularly revealed – Răzvan Mazilu. The Ballet of the National Opera House in Bucharest, having Tiberiu Almosnino, Magdalena Rădulescu and Doina Axinte as soloists, presented the ballet Genesis by Rose-Marie Both Stocec, on Şerban Nichifor's music. The choreography, accompanied by ingenious and varied lightening has as symbolic background biblical themes, effaced however, by the choreographic discourse, made up of classical variation and duets, which were no longer subordinated to the concept. The Ballet of the Opera House in Timişoara, with Mihai Mateescu, Carmen Cojocaru and Adela Rujoi as soloists, presented in a new choreographic version signed by Francisc Valkay, the ballet Daphnis and Chloe on Maurice Ravel's music. First staged in 1912 by Fokin, within the framework of Diaghilev's Russian Ballets, the ballet was appealing, through subject-matter, great choreographers, like lord Ashton, Lifar, Cranko, van Manen and Tetley. In the present staging, the way of structuring the classical variations, the numerous holds and the emphasis on linearity and geometry led to a sense of dryness inappropriate to the pastoral poetry of Longos. At the opposite pole, there were the spirited moments, yet insufficiently controlled by a careful compositional thought belonging to the suite realized by Adina Cezar, together with the Contemp company, under the title Possible Projections, five scenes on music by Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Ştefan Niculescu and Spanish popular music. Liliana Iorgulescu and Varvara Ştefănescu, dancer with a personal corporeal plasticity, extremely expressive, together with Beatrice Duminică, Simona Iliescu and Carmina Giurgiu performed in the above mentioned scenes, two of which – those on music by Mozart and Ştefan Niculescu – had both fluency and a good compositional structure, highlighting Adina Cezar's specific resourcefulness for choreographic creation. A certain lack of accuracy in movement seemed to suggest that the troupe was no longer well trained. Liliana Iorgulescu was both choreographer and sole performer of her own creation, The Salt of the Earth, created on Romanian folk music and suggesting ancient rituals, with multiple significance. The trap in which she fell was that she attached more importance to the scenic objects used than to the choreographic means as such, with which she didn't concern herself enough to render them the necessary graphicalness that the performer Liliana Iorgulescu so abundantly possesses. Coming to the choreographers that have been awarded a prize, the first thing that must be emphasized at Edina Hadjiroviè, third prize winner, with ballet studies at Sarajevo and accomplished at Sankt Petersburg, is the real wonder achieved with the ballet troupe of the Musical Theatre in Braşov. Brought here by historical vicissitudes, Edina Hadjiroviè, equally a good educator and choreographer, succeeded in ten months to turn a heterogeneous group as far as formation and individual possibilities are concerned, into a ballet company. Both in Chariots of Fire by Vangelis and in Symphonie fantastique by Berlioz, the choreographer evinced an extraordinary musical intuition, fantasy and a special warmth that were felt through the movement in many choreographic moments. She was helped by the entire company, according to everyone's possibilities, but firstly by the soloists Nermina Damian, Mariana Năsăleanu, Ramona Ecobici and Meda Ciobanu. Another choreographer who succeeded in turning to good account a ballet company, completely reshaping it, using performers with heterogeneous experience in the domain of contemporary dance, whom he brought to a uniform stylistic standard, is Sergiu Anghel, the second prize winner of the Festival. His work The Four Seasons by Vivaldi had several stagings, the Romanian choreographers who have created on this music so far being Alexa Mezincescu and Pavel Rotaru. Sergiu Anghel himself had sketched the four Vivaldian seasons before, in a cinematic manner, but they didn't succeed in going beyond improvisation. This time, the staged version of the Seasons was consistent, highlighting firstly a great fantasy in movement based on an adequate combination of music with choreography enhanced by ingenious staging effects. The component that the choreographer still needs to consider is the invisible dramatic bridge that links all seasons. The entire Orion company met the exigencies of the choreographer excellently and the classicist, as far as her professional training is concerned, Doina Axinte also joined the choreographer and adapted stylistically to his requirements. To the success of the show there also substantially contributed the two performers experienced in modern dance Vincenţiu Popescu and Mihai Mihalcea, to whom they resorted too little (especially the latter) in the economy of the show, which they could have made even more valuable. Finally, the first prize was awarded to the French choreographer of Hungarian origin Pál Frenák. Having studied and worked as a choreographer in Budapest, then in Paris, where in 1989 he set up a small company, Pál Frenák is interested in deconstructing the intimate mechanisms of movement, the poise and its break, the slide and the side-slipping with all its uncertainties. In Tor (which means, in translation, three times, threefold, the third time), three dancers, a woman and two men, Christine Merli, Pascal Giordano and Pál Frenák himself, meet and separate, two of them, all three, each of them alone, sometimes showing a unison in movement, other times displaying contradictory movements, the theme of the show being that of inter-human relationships. Cloths, mantles, ropes, chairs made up the modern ambience of the choreographic performance. The suggestion itself, of analyzing some idiosyncratic categories of movements leads to a considerable idiosyncrasy of the immense realm of movement creation, tipping the scales towards laboratory. Fortunately though, the movements evinced strong spiritual tumults. The festival of choreographic creation in Iaşi became, starting from this year, also a launch pad for young and very young creators, as Răzvan Mazilu, whose debut as a choreographer was hailed with a special prize. A graduate of the Choreography High School in Bucharest, second year student in the Choreography Section of the Theatre and Film Academy, soloist between 1990-1993 at Contemp company, Răzvan Mazilu presented, together with a group of students from the acting department, under the title Transfigurations, three short but consistent works: Narcissus, music by Roy Buchanan, Inquietude, after The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca, on J. S. Bach's music, and Soap Bubbles, on Louis Armstrong's music. In the first both the choreographer and the excellent performer Răzvan Mazilu stood out, the third, Soap Bubbles, was merely charming. However, Inquietude can be considered a small masterpiece of choreography and drama that succeeded in synthesizing and expressing the utmost tensions of Lorca's play. Let's hope that Răzvan Mazilu will have the strength and the intelligence to turn into a refined choreographic accomplishment the early spring announced by his debut works. The Jury of the Festival, made up of Miliţă Dumitrescu, honored art maestro (the president of the jury), Vivia Săndulescu, professor at the Theatre and Film Academy and ballet critic, Eugen Gârneţ, choreographer and director of the Opera House ballet in Chişinău, Ion Boitanciuc, ballet professor at the Choreography School in Iaşi, together with the undersigned, did not have too easy a job, considering not the multitude of the choreographic works presented, but their stylistic diversity. Nevertheless, the jury didn't take into account the style, but the artistic value of each work, according to the specificity of the creator. The hardest difficulties appeared only after the end of the competition and the awarding of prizes, when we surprisingly found out that there were other prizes being awarded by various newspapers and institutions, unannounced before the competition and granted by non-professionals in the domain who, thus, substituted themselves to the jury. The multitude of the legal prizes and of those not in accordance with the rules of the festival, rapidly published by various newspapers, created confusion and risk to discredit the International Festival of Choreographic Creation in Iaşi that had such a promising debut (the first two editions). Regarding the colloquium, this was just an action that was ticked on the schedule of the festival. Indisputably, the organizers of the competition-festival love the ballet dance. That is why they need to meditate, not to let themselves influenced by the arrangements behind the scenes, to set up strict rules for themselves and to stick to them. The prestige that the Festival has already acquired demands them to do so.

by Liana Tugearu