The Geneva Ballet debuts at Joburg Theatre

The Geneva Ballet (Grand Théâtre de Genève) debuts in Johannesburg in June at the Mandela, Joburg Theatre.
After recent visits to Cape Town and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, the world-renowned Geneva Ballet, under the direction of Philippe Cohen, opens on Wednesday June 17 with Roméo & Juliette at The Mandela, Joburg Theatre and runs to Sunday June 21, 2015 for a limited season of 6 shows only.

During its Johannesburg season the company will celebrate the anniversary of the 100th performance of this production of Roméo & Juliette.

Established in Switzerland at the start of the 19th Century, the Geneva Ballet is known for its rich repertoire of neo-classical and contemporary dance styles featuring highly skilled classically trained dancers and top choreographers.

Joëlle Bouvier, one of several guest choreographers invited by the Geneva Ballet to enrich its repertoire, has with this production of Roméo & Juliette, re-imagined Shakespeare’s classic tragedy as a contemporary piece, re-visiting the ballet in an inventive way. She has taken the essence of the story, its fundamental characteristics and choreographed around that rather than sticking strictly to the details of the play. She turns the sequence of the traditional classic upside down – conversely beginning with the funeral ceremony and working retrospectively back to the beginning. It is driven musically by the strong, stirring music of the composer Prokofiev.

“Together, we unite our bodies into the gentleness and fury of this music; we let ourselves be inspired by the rhythm and its poetic nature to compose body movements, lifts, motions and fractures. All describe the passionate adventure of the two lovers”, says Bouvier.

The elegance of the costumes and the stage decor is offset by the vitality of the fight scenes, as the 22-dancer strong company creates a dynamic energy and an eye-catching aesthetic.
“Bouvier has stripped everything down, creating movement which, while technically challenging, innovative, and incredibly beautiful, never feels forced, and a plot consisting of only the most integral events. It is as if she were leaving it up to the viewer to decide the specifics of who these two people are, what defines them, and what draws them simultaneously together and apart; and, of course, these are the questions which make this story timelessly relevant.” Ann Rogovoy, The Rogovoy Report (USA)

The company is considered one of the most original dance companies in Europe, excelling in variations of the classical ballet vernacular through innovative artistic collaborations. With an average age of 25, Geneva Ballet is a company that features youthful dancers from around the world and includes the South African Angela Rebelo, niece of well-known South African actors Nicky Rebelo and Jennifer Steyn Rebelo.

As a major component of its two-week long visit to Johannesburg, the Geneva Ballet company, with a focus on choreography in a variety of forms and expression, will be involved in a collaborative project with South African choreographers and dancers. This unique project will involve four local choreographers, Gregory Maqoma, Mamela Nyamza, PJ Sabbagha and Fana Tshabalala with Nathanaël Marie from the Geneva Ballet and will take place at the Soweto Theatre, the Dance Space in Newtown, University of Johannesburg Arts & Culture and at the Hillbrow Theatre from June 8 – 14. The creative result of this collaboration will be showcased in partnership at the Soweto and Wits Theatres on June 13 and 14 respectively.

The Geneva Ballet Johannesburg 2015 visit has been made possible thanks to the support of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. The Johannesburg season is as a result of the close collaboration between the Joburg Theatre, Geneva Ballet and Zelda Productions and with further support from the Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa and the collaborative effort of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in South Africa.

Roméo & Juliette performances are from Wednesday 17 June – Friday 19 June at 8pm, Saturday 20 June at 3pm & 8pm and Sunday 21 June at 2pm.

Tickets range from R180 to R350 and are on sale via the Joburg Theatre website www.joburgtheatre.com.

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