Prague Chamber Ballet: 50 Years of Grace
‘The 50th Anniversary Gala of Ballet Prague’ offered a montage of finest moments from the now-named Prague Chamber Ballet at the Estates Theater Nov 16.
Despite facing many struggles over the years, from Communist occupation to finding a permanent performance space, the evening’s dancers showed that hardships had no effect on the quality of work.
Featured pieces included choreography by Pavel Šmok, Luboš Ogoun, and Petr Zuska, current director of the Czech National Ballet, who got his start as a dancer and choreographer with the Prague Chamber Ballet.
Studio Ballet Prague was founded by Šmok-Ogoun-(Vladimír)Vašut in 1964, and became the Prague Chamber Ballet in 1975. This show provided a time capsule of dance, guiding the audiences through the decades. It included full-length performances and excerpts from Hiroshima (1964), Intimate Letters (1968), From My Life (1983), In the Mist (1996), and Maria’s Dream (2002).
Mr Šmok’s choreography shines in moments of desperation, a theme embodied by the six dancers in From My Life. Inspired by composer Bedřich Smetana’s struggle with becoming deaf, Mr Šmok captured powerful emotion with simple movements such as hands to the head of a partner or surrendering the body into a suspended lift.
. Hiroshima’s duet “A Pilot and His Conscience,” choreographed by Mr Ogoun, was a crowd favorite. Lenka Maříková – wearing red from head to toe – dominated Patrik Čermák’s pilot with powerful movements that still evoked strong responses from modern audiences nearly seventy years after the bombing.
. The closing routine, Maria’s Dream, choreographed by Petr Zuska offered a more light-hearted look at gender roles. A single female and four shirtless male dancers in flowing white tutus mixed perfectly executed moves (including acrobatic tricks involving a park bench) with well-timed comedy that poked fun at ideas of gender, strength, and grace.
The curtain call provided a perfect summary of the evening. While all of the individual performers got warm applause, the audience jumped to its feet for a standing ovation as Pavel Šmok walked onstage. The program proved that it was well deserved.
– Auburn Scallon, Opus Osm writer
Photo Credits: Top: Auburn Scallon; others, Prague Chamber Ballet