Ernst Meisner's Embers
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Last year I was lucky enough to see Ernst Meisner's Embers twice: once in Amsterdam on 6 Feb 2015 (see The Dutch National Ballet Junior Company's best Performance yet 8 Feb 2015) and again in London (Junior Company in London - even more polished but as fresh and exuberant as ever 7 June 2015). When I first saw it I wrote:
"Quite simply, it is one of the most beautiful ballets I have ever seen. Its beauty had me close to tears."When I saw it again at Covent Garden I wrote:
"The next work was Ernst Meisner's Embers danced by Nancy Burer and Thomas van Damme. In my previous review I described it as "quite simply ....... one of the most beautiful ballets I have ever seen." It moved me the first time I saw it on film - a performance on the concourse of Amsterdam railway station which I embedded into Junior Company's New Season 6 Feb 2015. It moved me again last night. "I loved it so much that I named Meisner my choreographer of the year for 2015 (see Highlights of 2015 29 Dec 2015) and I might add that right now he is on course for being choreographer of the year for 2016 for his No Time Before Time (see Ballet Bubbles 16 Feb 2016).
I will have (and you too gentle readers can all have) the opportunity to see this masterpiece again if you come to Trecate near Novara in North West Italy on 28 June 2016 at 21:00 for the Gala for Alessia which I mentioned in Principato's Project on 7 April 2016 and Update on the Trecate Gala 28 April 2016. Embers will round off a brilliant evening of dance from the most promising young dancers in some of the world's greatest ballet companies which is being directed by Cristiano Principato of the Dutch National Ballet. Cristiano explains that he has chosen Embers to end his gala because it is "all about the sunset of a great love and that reminds me of a stunning but very dramatic sunset."
The love that the gala is celebrating is that of a family for a remarkable young woman called Alessia Mairati. She came from Novara (a town just a little bit bigger than Barnsley and about the same distance from Milan as Barnsley is from Manchester). Cristiano explained that:
"Alessia was the daughter of a colleague of my father so our families were always really close. Alessia died twelve years ago when she was only eighteen year old. She was on a school exchange spending her last year of secondary school at a school in Ecuador. She was telling her family about how poor people were in Latin America and saying that she really wanted to do something concrete to help those people once she returned to Italy. Unfortunately her plane crushed on her way back. So ten years ago her father founded the charity, Casa Alessia, to make her dream of helping to alleviate poverty come true."If you can read Italian you will find her life story here, her emails here and some lovely photos of her here.
As they were very close to Alessia's family, Cristiano's was very distressed by the tragedy. That was particularly true of his father who fell ill and he has still not recovered. Because of that illness, he has not been able to travel long distances to see his son on stage. Since it takes place very close to home, the Gala for Alessia will be Mr Principato senior's first opportunity in 7 years to see what his son can do. I am sure he will be a very proud man indeed. No wonder Cristiano is so excited.
Every year Casa Alessia holds a concert to raise money for its work. Because his heart is very close to Casa Alessia and Alessia's father, Cristiano always wanted to take part in that event but he was not allowed to do so while at ballet school. He was also very busy with his academic work - not to mention driving lessons. He started to think about the project last year and this year he has finally made it a reality.
The gala will be divided into two parts. The first is an introduction to ballet and will consist of various pieces from the modern and classical repertoire. Cristiano will open the show with a solo called Tempo which he is choreographing for himself. There will be some classical favourites, the white swan pas de deux and an extract from Coppélia finishing with another of his works called "Palladio", which he is creating for the Dutch National's productions New Moves.
"The second part will be a sort of trip through Casa Alessia's work in Africa made through the choice of pieces that are related to it. It will start in Egypt with a suite from The Pharaoh's Daughter (pas de deux, solos and coda)".Cristiano will dance that piece with a dancer from the Wiener Staatsballet.
"Then again some other connections with African diamonds (the diamond solo from The Sleeping Beauty). One contemporary solo about the lack of water and rain, a two boys duet about two orphans, a pas de deux set the night before a soldier would have to leave for the war (Elegie by Ernet Meisner) and a lot of other pieces related to Alessia's life like her love for sunflowers (with an extract from The Flower Festival pas de deux). Every piece of the second part will be explained and introduced by an announcer. "Finally, Ernst's Meisner Embers.
"It is such a very demanding and challenging event but I will do my best to make that happen and I hope in a great help to Casa Alessia."Admission is free but there will be a collection at the end of the show which will enable the audience to show their appreciation for the artists as well as the work of the charity. "We'll dance our hearts out" said Cristiano "to encourage folk to dig deep. I hope we'll manage to raise a good amount to help Casa Alessia in its amazing work. We're all dancing for free so all the money will go to the charity."
Even if it wasn't for a good cause I would still come to Trecate to see the show. Ernst Meisner has scoured the world to find the world's best young dancers and they will be there to entertain us. Unless I am very much mistaken they are the stars who will be filling Covent Garden, the Met, Palais Garnier, the Bolshoi, the Scala and Stopera in 10 to 15 years time. On our 25th wedding anniversary in 2007 I saw a young lad called Xander Parish in York and I said to my late spouse "In 10 years he will be a big star," Less than 9 years on, was I right or was I right?
I might add that I would also support Casa Alessia and projects like it even if there were no show. I was married to an African and I know its human potential is like a tightly coiled spring. Once it is freed from poverty there will be no stopping its people in every field of human endeavour including the performing arts. Cristiano's colleague, Michaela DePrince, is proof of that.