A guest blog from Sally Blackwood, Director in Residence, Sasha Waltz & Guests in Berlin:

Orfeo costumes

Orfeo by Sasha Waltz/Claudio Monteverdi (rehearsals) ©Dutch National Opera / Monika Rittershaus

Like many artists of all walks of life, I take time out from my usual career (directing and producing) in January each year to come and work (play) with Sydney Festival. As Artist Liaison &/or French Interpreter for the Festival I have had the opportunity to work with many extraordinary companies including: Cirque Ici; Ilotopie; Airvag; James Thiérrée’s Compagnie du Hanneton; and Vivarium Studio.

In January this year I worked with Sasha Waltz & Guests with their extraordinary production of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas. This friendship & artistic encounter has proved to be an exciting & fortuitous meeting, and has lead me to be based in Berlin as Director in Residence with Sasha Waltz & Guests for the creation of Monteverdi’s Orfeo which premieres at the Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam in September.

Orfeo rehearsals

Orfeo by Sasha Waltz/Claudio Monteverdi (rehearsals) ©Dutch National Opera / Monika Rittershaus

The company have welcomed me as part of the Sasha Waltz family and talked of my place within this ten-year baroque chapter of the company’s work from the creation of Dido & Aeneas through to this new production of Orfeo. It’s pretty special.

Orfeo Music

Orfeo by Sasha Waltz/Claudio Monteverdi (rehearsals) ©Dutch National Opera / Monika Rittershaus

Sasha’s studio is an amazing creative space; an egalitarian, inclusive & supportive environment that redefines the hierarchical expectations of an opera rehearsal room. Dancers sing, singers dance, and movement together with music is the driving force. The creative process is a long, gentle movement exploration of the opera’s themes and reoccurring imagery & motives – especially that of nature. The devised segments develop a though-line as they are woven together with singers, reconfigured with chorus, and reworked with exquisite detail. The team Sasha has assembled comprises of 12 of the company’s dancers, 11 principal singers and the Vocalconsort Berlin. Sasha’s passionate vision is strong, open and reflective at every moment as the company plays and creates this extraordinary work.

Sasha Waltz & Guests is an ensemble-in-residence at Radialsystem V, an exciting Carriageworks type of venue offering a non-stop programming of music & dance.

The performing & visual arts in Berlin are an intrinsic part of everyday life, as important as the air we breathe, the company we keep, the food we share, and recently – the World Cup. It’s an extraordinary world to be a part of and I hope to bring home to Sydney this inspiring sense of the importance of the arts in the quotidian.

I’m off now to see The Wild Things by Kindertanzcompany Berlin von Sasha Waltz & Guests. A family dance piece based on Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, with composed new music score, and performed by children 8-12yrs.

Tschüss!

Sally Blackwood
Director in Residence, Sasha Waltz & Guests, Berlin

Orfeo premieres at the Dutch National Opera in September

Orfeo rehearsals

Orfeo by Sasha Waltz/Claudio Monteverdi (rehearsals) ©Dutch National Opera / Monika Rittershaus

Orfeo rehearsals

Orfeo by Sasha Waltz/Claudio Monteverdi (rehearsals) ©Dutch National Opera / Monika Rittershaus

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