Select Page



Photo: Serghei Gherciu


Spanish star choreographer Marcos Morau hits in Berlin with another spectacular ballet performance that opens up the modern dance scene to a wider audience. An exquisite doublebill featuring the world premiere of Morau’s brand new Overture and Canadian Crystal Pite’s Angels Atlas is a phenomenal experience in an ongoing, spectacular mix of music, movement and stunning stage images. Hurry to Berlin!

To the sounds of the opening fanfare of Mahler’s 5th Symphony, 35 dancers take the stage around a gigantic, antique, Greco-Roman marble column in glossy black finish, suggesting a narrative in common with the black monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 2001 Space Oddity.

Marcos Morau, 42 years old and currently artist in residence at Staatsballett Berlin, unleashes his choreographic signature from the start. The dancers seem to be condensed into a unified mass of body and movement, undulating, quivering, stabbing, searching, doubting.

The large-scale choreography seems at once individually liberated and tightly collectively controlled, radiating a smooth transition from timidity to determination.

Together, the column is raised as the Staatskapelle Berlin under Marius Stravinski delivers a powerful display of musical fizz as Mahler’s fabulous work unfolds. A work that has been described as striking interpretations of human life experiences ranging from narcotic beautyshaze to weightless elegance.

We are witnessing the birth of a civilization, and there is not a spectator in the hall whose jaw is not about to drop to their chest.

A further 16 columns are lowered from the ceiling to form a temple-like stage design that outlines a society and a coexisting community that will soon be at odds with itself.

Photo: Serghei Gherciu

A fragile social order whose collapse we follow in its gradual disintegration and self-destruction.

The humorous but often socially critical Morau nods to current political developments and ends up outlining a kind of rebirth of a new world.

One senses a kinship with Wagner’s Ring, which also ends with the old world coming to an end so that a new Overture can be played out.

In other words, it is easy to read the idea of the story through the impressive, imaginative choreography, and it is precisely here that rising star Marcos Morau delivers an excellent crossover, opening up a generally narrow genre (contemporary dance) to an audience that appreciates spectacular music and stage experiences in a broader perspective.

If you experienced Under the Depths at the Copenhagen Opera recently, you know where I’m going. I was mesmerized both in CPH, and here at the Staatssoper Unter den Linden in Berlin.

Photo: Serghei Gherciu

Canadian choreographer and dancer Crystal Pite (53) is responsible for the second part of this double bill, Angels’ Atlas from 2020, which thematically rhymes somewhat with Overture and is a similar, super spectacular concert ballet with (taped) music by Tchaikovsky and modern electronica/ambience.

In more than 35 years as a choreographer, Pite has created over 60 works for companies such as Royal Ballet London, Paris Opera Ballet and National Ballet of Canada. Bold and original works have earned her international recognition.

The 35 dancers perform together or in alternating, smallergroups in stunning, ethereal sets of chalk-white designer smoke (how the heck do they do that?) and blindingly bright, almost paradisiacal light that, together with the musical collage, establish an almost religious atmosphere.

All of this is aided by the ensemble’s simultaneously powerful and poetic movement patterns and sensuous, highly engaging music by Morten Lauridsen, a highly respected American composer with Danish roots.

Photo: Serghei Gherciu

Is it our tumultuous earthly lives observed by angels from a bird’s eye view? The ballet is not so clear in its narrative, and probably speaks more to the emotions than the mind. But gosh, it’s beautiful.

The stage images are unadulterated aesthetic pleasure, sand you feel transported to an otherworld of space and movement that you don’t want to leave.

I leave the performance light-hearted, genuinely uplifted by something I don’t quite know what it is. Maybe this is what they call art?

GOT TO SEE THIS  gives five big stars to Staatsballett Berlin for two excellent performances and a memorable experience of concert ballet at a high artistic level.