Posted by: viewfromtheriva | May 26, 2017

Split Ballet’s East West brings out Kirov’s best, exploring the mystery with nuance and passion


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Tonight was the premiere of a marvelous “ballet tryptych”–three different works choreographed by young artists from Macedonia and France, under the direction of the Split Ballet’s new director, Igor Kirov.

This is the kind of evening that really tests a company.  Lots of challenging lifts, intense physicality (try listening to Penderecki!) juxtaposed with deeply emotional pas de deux and lots of full company ensemble work–exhausting!

Unlike Kirov’s previous work at HNK, “5 to 12” which never got beyond its original concept, The Edge was visionary, clear and profound–with gorgeous, passionate dancing by the company’s best. Watching these lovers express their pain, joy and dreams accompanied by evocative live solo piano and violin music by Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi was pure joy.

Special mention goes to Irina Ciban Bilandic, in Isadora Duncan red gauze, a dreamy soloist, Ivan Boiko and a new company member from Malaysia whose name I do not have, who made time stand still with some absolutely stunning work.

What a triumph for all concerned–the lighting, costumes and lovely work by the musical soloists.

My only criticism is Kirov’s penchant for having dancers act like stagehands during some part of the performance, as if somehow this bit of stage business is an integral part of his artistic expression.  In one scene, inexplicably,  a solo dancer, crouched over as if to tell the audience please don’t notice me, starts to unroll a carpet directly in front of of a trio of dancers, who of course pretend not to notice that he is actually not waiting until they finish!  What’s the point?


The evening began with Sasha Evtimova’s Patterns.  A young Macedonian, her choreography was very visceral and pushed the company to its limits.  It didn’t work for me.  She clearly liked using as many dancers on stage as possible to create “patterns”.  But with so many dancers on stage you need to make sure the “patterns” clearly emerge.  Alas, they never seemed to get beyond a series of well rehearsed physical motifs that drained so much energy, the dancers couldn’t really express anything beyond.  And the lighting and costumes, which could have added some life and texture, did little to enhance the experience as they did in the evening’s second and final performances.

After a long intermission, probably to allow the dancers to recover, it was time for France’s Martin Chaix and Penderecki.  BOOM!, the piece started with alacrity and never stopped.  It was a terrific performance, clean and powerful, sinuous and nuanced when it needed to be–with great lighting and vivid costumes to match.  The reason people choose to dance is the joy.  The freedom.  And Chaix clearly understands this and that gifted dancers can fly.

I wish I had more images, but even on line there aren’t many.  The same program will done later this year as part of the Split Summer Festival and again in the fall.  It’s something Kirov and his company can really be proud of, bravo!



  1. Dear Mr Aronson

    I read with interest your article “View from the Riva”.

    I would like to introduce you to Aaron Kok “a new company member whose name you do not know” and he’s Australian born to Malaysian parents, for future reference. 🙂

    I do hope you will continue to support the arts and look forward to reading more of your articles.

    • Thanks very much for this, he is an extraordinary dancer!

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