The highly-anticipated Dance Festival of Belgrade is in its 14th installment and is already expected to be the most popular and most prestigious event up-to-date.

Dance

After Mikhail Baryshnikov was announced to be venturing out to Belgrade for the Belgrade Dance Festival which is set to happen between March 24 and April 11, it garnered massive interests of the public. Mikhail is a Russian superstar and has been known to be one of the greatest ballet dancers to ever grace the stage.

Amidst the excitement, it was also announced that Baryshnikov’s performance will only be a rather special appendage – an exclamation mark of sorts, instead of being an actual part of the festival program.

 “We are getting ready for a fantastic edition of BDF, which keeps growing in terms of scope and audience every year,” said by Director Aja Jung, the Festival Director, at an official press conference held late last year.

She added, “many international festivals may be envious of BDF this year,” being that respected choreographers and dance companies from all around the world will be coming to Belgrade and bring with them some of the most popular and exciting performances and choreographies of the past year. 

Due to some funding problems, the success of the BDF is somewhat unexpected, and it is quite common for Serbian music and art festivals to have. Jung and her work have been recognized as a powerful force on Europe’s cultural scene.  In fact, she was recently knighted by French Ambassador to Serbia H.E. Christine Moro for her contributions to art and culture on account of her efforts with the BDF.

Jung was given the title of Knight of Arts and Letters, with Moro stating at the ceremony that her “enthusiasm for dance ensures that culture occupies a more important place in the lives of the citizens of Serbia, France and many other countries.”

The lauded Italian ballet star Giuseppe Picone, also the newest director of the San Carlo Ballet Theatre in Naples will make a special appearance for this year’s festival. He will address the crowd before the festival kicks off a string of more than 30 performances in both Belgrade and Novi Sad, featuring 15 dance companies from ten different countries.

Happened at the Atelje 212 Theatre last March 31st, courtesy of the Helena Waldmann Company from Berlin was deemed one of the most exciting performance. The performance entitled “Good Passports, Bad Passports” takes on the complex social and political currents stirred by Europe’s refugee crisis.

Waldmann told Belgrade daily Blic that the choreography is intended to work on an emotional level and is not intended to provide or disseminate specific political opinions as she is known for tackling crucial contemporary issues through her art.

“I am not lecturing the dancers or the audience,” Waldmann said.

“Like animals, we love to feel safe instead of free. That’s an important topic for discussion, but it’s much more common to hear about and read about ‘identity’ and ‘homes’ in our society, as opposed to discourse about our freedom,” she told Blic.

While the actual festival closes on April 11, dance fans will no doubt be most excited about what is set to take place a couple of weeks later. Namely, this is when the Baryshnikov performances will be held. He will dance in a total of three performances from April 23-25 at the Terazije Theatre.

The spectacle is a co-production of The New Riga Theatre and Baryshnikov Productions.

Directed by the famed Latvian choreographer Alvis Hermanis, Brodsky/Baryshnikov is a one-man performance based on one of Nobel Award-winning poet Joseph Brodsky’s poems.

Baryshnikov said in an exclusive interview with Blic earlier this year, “Alvis regularly says that this performance is like a collective séance with Brodsky. However, I do not really have that connection with the crowd,”

The performance was originally scheduled to take place in early March, but was postponed because of a knee injured that Baryshnikov sustained.

However, Ballet fans might be disappointed with the performance, as oddly enough, it does not have any dancing in it.

“While it’s true that I will not be dancing, I do move around a lot in the performance. We decided that there should not be any choreography as such, [but] rather to use pure reactions, emotions, body language and the electricity that streams through the body,” he said.

For complete information related to the programme, performance venues and tickets sales, visit BDF’s official website: www.belgradedancefestival.com.

© 2018 PETROS STATHIS | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Petros Stathis

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