“Three Meetings” – Georgs Pelēcis and Bridget Breiner
In these three performances, three outstanding contemporary Latvian composers meet three globally-acclaimed choreographers. Their collaboration has produced three new one-act ballets and, as Uģis Brikmanis, a “Riga 2014” Artistic Council member and curator of the thematic line “Thirst for the Ocean” comments – the true contribution of the “Riga 2014” Programme to the culture of Latvia is through new works of art, which will only become obvious once the European Capital of Culture year is over.
One of the three works in the triptych of one-acts is composer Georgs Pelēcis’ collaboration with the American prima ballerina and choreographer Bridget Breiner – “In Honour Of”, based on the composer’s opus “In Honour of Henry Purcell”.
As suggested by the reference in the composition’s title, it was inspired by, and pays homage to works by the composer Henry Purcell. Georgs Pelēcis emphasises that the composition does not contain any allusions to Purcell’s oeuvre, but the spirit of baroque music is clearly present in this work.
Bridget Breiner says she was enthralled by the music from the very first notes. No recordings were available, and she heard the composition for the first time on “Youtube”. It was the masterful synthesis of early music and contemporary minimalism techniques that inspired her greatly:
“A link to the past and a contemporary feel. I am happy to have the opportunity to work with this composition. It is not too long, but very saturated, dense, also a very personal and intimate work.”
The composition “In Honour of Henry Purcell” was created in 2009 to mark the English composer’s 350th birthday. While working on it, Georgs Pelēcis never imagined that it could once be staged as a choreographic performance.
“This is an interpretation for the stage and a great intrigue to me, and I can’t wait to see the result,” composer Georgs Pelēcis told members of the press at the Latvian National Opera.
Although it may seem odd, the composer and the choreographer met for the first time just a few days ago – about a week before the premiere. This was due to Bridget Breiner’s tight schedule. For this same reason, the performance was partly created at her current residence in Germany, with several dancers from the Latvian National Opera’s ballet troupe joining her there.
The choreographic idea by Bridget Breiner – as indicated in the triptych’s title, “Three Meetings” – is to emphasise and continue the link where the present meets the past:
“First of all, this is our – three foreign choreographers – meeting with distinguished Latvian composers. This is my first meeting with Latvia, and my first personal meeting with composer Georgs Pelēcis and Latvian ballet artists. However, the most important feature of this new production is our meeting with the past and the accomplishments of the past generations. I believe that the process of creation is amazing in itself, that something new is created from nothing – something valuable that is above time.
I am truly drawn into all these aspects of meetings and encounters.
“The burden that is dictated by the necessity to carry artistic heritage is inspiring and frightening at the same time. Be it music, theatre or dance – we are all indebted to our predecessors. We honour the great artists of the past, they inspire us and teach us a lot, but at the same time, we try to escape from them, liberate ourselves and do our work as we see fit.”
“I’m grateful to all artists who have lived before me, but living according to the standards they have set can also be uncomfortable. We elevate our idols and teachers to the status of gods, but in reality they are all, or were, humans – just like us. And that, too, is inspiring – that people exactly like us have accomplished amazing things.”
The choreographer explains that, in abstract terms, this is what ballet is about – the joy of being one of those unusual persons who bring beauty into this world. Even if this is intimidating, even if what was dreamed of cannot be achieved, adding even a small drop to the great ocean of art brings great personal happiness.
The choreographer and prima ballerina Bridget Breiner was born in Connecticut, the United States. Originally a student at the BalletMet dance academy in Ohio, she joined the Bavarian State Ballet troupe after graduating from the Heinz Bosl Foundation in Munich in 1992.
In 1996, she continued her career with the Stuttgart Ballet, when Reid Anderson was appointed the ballet’s artistic director. Soon she became one of the most celebrated dancers in the troupe, becoming a soloist in 1997 and the ballet’s principal in 2001. From 2006 to 2008 she worked at the Semperoper in Dresden, led by the Artistic Director Aaron Watkin. Bridget Breiner has danced many of the main roles in productions by various internationally acclaimed choreographers.
She made her choreographic debut in 2005 in the prestigious young choreographers evening of the Stuttgart-based Noverre Society. She went on to create two more works for the Noverre Society, of which one – “Sirs” – was immediately taken into the repertoire of the Stuttgart Ballet. In 2007 she choreographed “Zeitsprunge” – a site-specific piece in the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, using 32 students from the John Cranko School. The piece was highly praised by local dance and art critics. In 2008 she choreographed “Adagio Assai” for the Ballet de Santiago in Chile.
She has also created the choreography for the musical parody “Der Prinz von Dänemark”, which was commissioned by the State Theatre Company of Stuttgart. In 2009 she created “Hold Lightly” to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto for the Kevin O’Day Ballet Mannheim. Also in 2009 she choreographed the “pas de deux La Grande Parade du Funk” for the Stuttgart Ballet couple competing in the Erik Bruhn Competition in Toronto. In 2010 she created and performed her solo “Au’leen”.
Since 2012 the choreographer is the Director of the Music Theatre in Gelsenkirchen.
Bridget Breiner’s one-act ballet “In Honour Of” is part of the production “Three Meetings”. Participating: Latvian National Opera ballet troupe soloists Viktorija Jansone, Baiba Kokina, Raimonds Martinovs, Ringolds Žigis, Andris Pudāns, Arturs Skuteļskis and Antons Freimans. The vocal part is performed by mezzo-sopranos Baiba Berķe, Laura Grecka and Irma Pavāre. Costume designer – Thomas Lempertz. Conductor - Atvars Lakstīgala.
The other one-act ballets in the triptych “Three Meetings” are the Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks and Argentine choreography star Demis Volpi’s collaboration “Elegy”, and Rihards Dubra and Slovak Mário Radačovský’s Piano Concerto No. 3.