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"Let's Dance" conquers the Atlantic

Dresden students were acclaimed for their performance by the audience

Michael Ernst

[Article in German]

Now they're dancing again. Unfortunately, only for one evening. The effort of rehearsing for it was not only worthwhile for the acclaimed premiere of the Music Festival, but may have also created something enduring for everyone involved. Approximately five dozen middle and high school students participated in this project which was intended to emulate the success of the "Firebird", which originated in 2010 to music by Igor Stravinsky. Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra was on the program this time, a cumbersome piece that the native Hungarian composed during his New York exile. Bartók only survived the end of the war in 1945 by four and a half months. His life held an abundance of tragedy, which is reflected tonally, almost even autobiographically, in the concert piece, consciously not called a symphony.

The Briton Royston Maldoom, who acquired world renown no later than the success of his "Rhythm is It!", structured his choreography, which he created together with his head assistant Josef Eder in the exhibition hall, to be very close to Bartók's tonal material and biography. In it, the old artist, identifiable as B., appears on stage with bourgeois elegance and grandeur and allows us to see a sequence of his life stages. A Hungarian folk song rings in his ears, with march rhythms menacingly superimposed which force him, like many other Europeans, to flee to the New World, where glitter and glamor can also be detected musically. He was however never at home there.

The brilliant innovator of the Community Dance created lovely parallels for the interpretable part of this often very virtuosic concert music. In powerful images, also provided with humor, he constructed scenes that were unobtrusively easy to decipher, which the students had rehearsed with exceeding exactness during the rehearsal period of several weeks. The participants were from the Free Montessori School "Huckepack", from the Dinglinger Special Education School, the Learning Support Center "Am Leutewitzer Park", and the Kreuz High School, and may have come into this with very different disadvantages in dancing and classical music. But in the result they developed together, no differences could be felt; it was characterized by an energy that melded the ensemble together and may have given each child and young person something to take with them in their further path through life--an encounter with living art, as well as the frenetic gratitude of the large audience. They were able to work with giant of this craft and were supported and taken care of by numerous anonymous backers from the Aufwind Society. Let's hope that this journey continues.

The Curtis Symphony Orchestra, which bid farewell this evening as the festival's "Orchestra in Residence", once again laid the tonal foundation for this Bartók project. The students from this elite university in Philadelphia played under the direction of Robert Spano with vehemence and inspiration and before the Bartók part also demonstrated the result of their first-class education in the "Fanfare for Sam" by David Ludwig--in this way the composer, born in 1972, honored Samuel Barber, who had already graduated from the Curtis Institute in 1934--as well as in the Symphonic Dances from Berstein's "West Side Story".

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