Posted by: viewfromtheriva | August 9, 2015

Split Ballet Company’s “5 to 12”, triumphs over its choreography

Each August, as part of Split’s Summer Festival, the Split Ballet premieres a new work–this year, “5 to 12”, by Igor Kirov, a celebrated Macedonian choreographer.  Performed outdoors at Sustipan, a glorious park overlooking the sea at the end of Split’s Western Promenade, the 9PM performance had all the promise of a magical evening.

In Kirov’s words, “life is a cube rolling and turning and after it falls it is our decision whether we accept the outcome or not….a life of cubes, filled with colors, energy-covered, inspired by music and danced with love…”

Framed against the pines and the dark sky, with wonderful music by fellow Macedonian Kiril Dzajkovski, the dancers appear ghost-like from the trees and take their places on the colored wooden cubes on stage.  The music swells–drums and oboes echoing an ancient swirling sensuous time.  The sidelights come up…the magic begins!

But alas, burdened by folkoric Macedonian costumes that have nothing to do with Kirov’s idea or cubes, instead of dancing, Kirov has created a marvelous acrobatic show, with live marionettes who have learned to do brilliant handstands, leaps and flips with cubes.  (I’m sure the dancers were thrilled when later in the performance, they could take off their costumes and move about in black briefs!)

After the first 15 minutes, it was clear that Kirov was unable to go further and the “12 acts” devolved into a repetitive technical series of arm and leg movements, more acrobatics–even to the point of watching dancers mount a high cube, turn around, and fall backwards into the waiting arms of their comrades.

Despite these constraints and often being relegated to stagehands, pushing around these cubes, sometimes with other dancers inexplicably fitted inside, the company threw themselves into the performance with ferocious energy.

Unlike the Split Ballet’s Dodir and Cirkus Primitiv, inspired choreographed works also driven by the abstract, 5 to 12 was never able to get out of its cubes.  There was no story to tell, and without the story, no passion or subtlety to reveal.  It was as if Kirov simply forgot to allow the dancers to dance.  There was only a single duet–and what a joy to see Irina Caban (now Mrs. Bilandzic) looking gorgeous and moving sublimely, after a two year absence!

When you have a world-class company like the Split Ballet to work with, style over substance won’t work–despite the fact we all clapped and “Bravo’d” for five minutes.  What we all applauded was our beloved ballet company giving their all, despite the wilting heat. Their sheer talent able to overcome a promising work that sadly, never got past its original idea.




  1. Lovely performance by the HNK Split , one big bravo for Maestro Kirov and his team, i Enjoyed every single minute, magical work , what never been seen in HNK dancer to do.Kirov did beautiful piece , very energetic very emotional very on point and with taste.

  2. Although I have tried to answer a reply from “Denny”, his e mail gets returned. So Denny, I’m sorry you still feel so angry. If you read ALL my blogs about the Split Ballet, you will see that I clearly respect the company and have singled out lighting, costume, choreography and design elements many times. We clearly saw this performance differently. So be it. People who choose to read this blog can agree or not, it is their right. But to ask me to print your vicious remarks so others can read them is something for your blog, not mine.

    To those who have written that they disagreed with my blog about “9 to 5”, all I can say is that I love this company and have written a lot about it. With friends who are dancers and having experienced dance from Moscow to NY I may be an amateur, but I know what I like. Each to his own– sorry some of you feel differently. The people I was with that night all agreed with me, however, that the choreography was repetitive, the costumes were out of place with the movement (but not with the music)and that the piece lacked the story that the liner notes talked about.


    if they are a world class ballet company, why do dancers need to be on a diet? Please answer me on that question.

    • The dancers I know, like models, are always worried about their weight. There are legendary stories about male dancers complaining about the weight of prima ballerinas. Dance is not about weight. It is about movement and expression and of course technique. If you have seen some of the dancers with Bill T. Jomes Company and other modern dance companies, some are quite overweight and still create powerful images and movement on stage. Classical ballet is another story and weight, as I said, can be and is a major issue with some dancers.

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