Posted by: viewfromtheriva | January 11, 2015

Split Ballet’s Cirkus Primitiv jumps for joy

Combining ballet, modern dance and commedia dell’arte, Split Ballet’s Cirkus Primitiv, inspired by the actual circus music of avante-garde French-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Jean-Marc Zelwer (who plays everything from nyckelharpa, santur to glass xylophone with a band that’s as comfortable with klezmer as it is with cabaret and gypsy), was a joy to watch and I’m sure a joy to perform.  

The composer, shown below, has a terrific discography, so if you like the strange and wonderful, do give him a google.


The ballet was choroegraphed by Stasa Zurovac, a celebrated Croatian treasure whose relatively young career includes choreographing everything from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to Brecht.

After hearing Zelwer’s music, he decided use it to create a ballet, which, paraphrasing his own words “… is a contemporary performance whose basic theme embodies the elements contained in its title. The music was originally written for the circus, and as such carries us on an imaginary,  primitive, primordial circle of life–a disheveled, whirlwind dance ballet of joy and whimsy that presents the audience a story less about what was, or what will be, but just what makes us who we are in the hilarious joy of coexistence… ”

The biggest kick for me was simply watching this always amazing company dance non-stop for a solid hour, throwing their bodies around with such splendid abandon–at times using a massive flush-mounted stage turntable to create even more movement.  All of the dancing was supremely physical, with dancers using their bodies to emulate every jungle beast emotion from lust to the giddy pleasure just being free, wild and alive!

The evening was made even more special because of the terrific lighting, costuming/makeup and some magical scenic effects that truly show just how excitingly talented this company and the people behind the scenes really are.

The first performance of Cirkus Primitv was this past summer as part of the 60th Annual Split Summer Festival.  The cast then was: Sanja Dimache, Bojana Lipovšćak, Matea Milas, Eva Karpilovska, Simona Caputo, Korana Bilan, Nikol Marčić, Lejla Bajramović, Razvan Cacoveanu, Remus Dimache, Romulus Dimache, Ašatbek Yusupuhanov, Mihai Mezei, Antoine Pros, Silviu Tanase and Leonid Antoncev.  For tonight’s performance (Jan. 10) there were some different performers, so I do apologize for not being able to find and credit them.  I did however, produce a very vocal “BRAVO” during the curtain calls!

Another wonderful night out in Split, sitting in gorgeous 124 year-old theatre, with it’s wonderful loges, balconies and painted ceilings, fifth row center for $20 (more than we usually pay, but when it comes to ballet, I want to be as close as I can!), watching a joyous performance by a world-class company that could dance its way to the stars.


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