Dutch National Ballet presents
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BALLET ABOUT AN ICONIC ARTIST
Frida by choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa was inspired by the life story of Frida Kahlo. One of the most intriguing artists of the twentieth century, the Mexican-born Kahlo refused to bow to misfortune, zealously fought taboos and championed women's rights, and painted portraits that became famous the world over.
Frida Kahlo the icon
Frida Kahlo's (1907-1954) life was anything but easy. Contracting polio when she was six, at 18 she was in a near-fatal accident that permanently injured her pelvic bone and spine. As a distraction from the pain and isolation, she began painting. Her colourful self-portraits were personal ‘journals’ in which she could express her soul. At the age of 22 Frida married fellow artist Diego Rivera. Though they would spend the next 25 years painting each other, theirs was not a happy marriage, thanks in no small part to Rivera's ongoing infidelities. Towards the end of her life, Kahlo said she had suffered two bad accidents in her life: ‘One was the streetcar, the other was my husband. My husband was by far the worst’.
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa is half Colombian and half Belgian, but she made her name as a dancer in the Netherlands and started to choreograph while still dancing. In recent years, her international career has really taken off. She has created recent works for New York City Ballet, English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet and Ballet Moscow. For Last Resistance, her choreography for Dutch Doubles 2018, she took inspiration from one of the best-known and most versatile singer in the Netherlands: Wende Snijders. The versatile choreographer, whose work includes flamenco, hip-hop, classical ballet and contemporary dance, received the Jacob's Pillow Dance Award in March 2019.
Ochoa – whose Last Resistance, a co-creation with Dutch singer Wende Snijders, won acclaim in early 2018 – became fascinated by the Mexican artist after seeing the film Frida (2002). ‘Until that moment I’d never understood why she was so famous, but this film made me realise how she managed to transmute her pain and immobility.’ Ochoa grabbed the opportunity to pursue this fascination in 2016 when Tamara Rojo, artistic director of the English National Ballet, asked her to contribute to She Said, a triple bill of choreographies by women, inspired by iconic women of the past. The result was Broken Wings, titled after Kahlo’s biography, Alas Rotas.
Ochoa: ‘Even before Broken Wings premièred, I felt it should be a full-length ballet, because there was too much happening in too short a space of time.’ Therefore it was a ‘dream come true’ when Ted Brandsen, artistic director of Dutch National Ballet, offered her the chance to develop her ideas in a large-scale new production. Like Broken Wings, Frida is less a linear story of the artist’s life and more a visual reimagination of how she felt and experienced the world.
In creating this full-length choreography, Ochoa’s aim was to flesh out the ‘expressive surrealism that dance – by analogy to Kahlo’s paintings – can embody’, delving even deeper into the loneliness that haunted Kahlo all her life, her relationship with Diego Rivera, her bisexuality, and the way she crafted her own image.
British composer Peter Salem, best known for his work for film and theatre, is creating a longer arrangement of the music he wrote for Broken Wings, this time also using Mexican instruments. Internationally acclaimed Dutch designer Dieuweke van Reij is supplying the colourful sets and costumes.
Choreography Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Dramaturgy: Nancy Meckler
Music Peter Salem
Set and costumes: Dieuweke van Reij
Lighting: Michael Mazzola
Dutch Ballet Orchestra
conducted by Matthew Rowe
Dutch Ballet Orchestra
Since its inception in 1965, the orchestra has been proud to accompany its partners, Dutch National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. The working method is unique in the Netherlands. Dutch Ballet Orchestra, with Matthew Rowe as principal conductor, consists of a regular core of 45 musicians, supported where necessary by highly qualified guest performers. This gives the orchestra its unique character: flexible, dynamic and high-quality. Dutch Ballet Orchestra combines music and dance into a magical experience: from classical ballet to modern dance, and from music education to talent development. The orchestra’s mission is to create an optimal synthesis between music and dance, in order to reach dance-lovers and ballet music enthusiasts, as well as children and youngsters. The orchestra has received several international awards for its educational projects, including the Young Audiences Music Award in 2016 for Creatures, a collaborative project with dance company ISH.
Musical evening giving an accessible, in-depth explanation of operas and ballets.
NB: In principle, the foyer evenings are given in Dutch, but in practice the high number of international guests means that English is often spoken as well.
Step into the world of the makers. Sit back with a drink in an informal setting and enjoy an aria or duet, a pas de deux or small ensemble, or an interview with a singer or choreographer. A varied programme, linked to a topical theme, is presented for each production.
The doors and the bar open at 20.00. The evening begins at 20.30 and lasts around an hour and a quarter. The bar will stay open afterwards.
Regular - € 10
Students - € 7.50
Free for Giving Circle members of Dutch National Opera, Dutch National Ballet and Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Prices are exclusive of booking charges. Tickets for performances can be purchased separately
‘It’s Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Broken Wings that makes the programme a success. Inspired by Kahlo’s life and art, it sidesteps biographical clichés. Rojo’s imperious Kahlo isn’t a victim, she’s not defined by her love life and, best of all, Ochoa finds ways to show her as a creative artist (…) Broken Wings is a bold, fresh work with a grand central role that makes the most of Rojo’s star power’
‘The most ambitious and best-realised work on the triple bill was Broken Wings by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa (…) So much colour and spectacle is packed into the 50 minute piece of dance theatre that it feels like a pilot for a 90 minute ballet in two acts’
(…) colourful and chaotic imagination of Mexican artist Frida Khalo (…) It is an impressionistic narrative, appropriately for an artist whose work presents the surrealism of the subconscious so beautifully.’
“Lopez Ochoa and her designers bring that art to fantastical life, as Kahlo dances with a chorus of brilliantly outfitted monkeys, flowers and birds of paradise.”