Sasha Rivas has created his choreography "Muted" to a piano quartet by the Latvian composer Peteris Vasks. The ballet is a confrontation with death, interpersonal relationships and lacking communication. The 21-year-old choreographer, who is also a dancer of the HAMBURG BALLET, describes his creation as a journey of a girl through various situations and emotions of her life.
The 30-minute ballet premiered at the "Podium – Junges Europäisches Musikfestival" in Esslingen on 15th April, 2012. On 22nd April, 2012, it celebrated its Hamburg premiere in the course of the charity matinee for the award of the Gustaf-Gründgens-Award to John Neumeier at the Schauspielhaus Hamburg.
A review of Valerie Gutsche
The death comes on silent feet. Hardly heard, a dancer comes out of the audience room while on stage another dancer appears. Barely audible and not visible at first, the audience recognizes the dancer quite lately not till he emerges out of the darkness and finally appears on stage questioning the most philosophical of all questions: What is the meaning of life? What is each individual supposed to fight for and to make life worth living? In "Muted", we accompany a girl on her journey through different situations and emotions of her life that she is dancing through, supposed to learn something from them.
"We should fight more for things we care about," said the 21-year-old choreographer Sasha Riva about the content of his choreography "Muted". He has created the melancholy and explosive ballet to the music of the Latvian composer Peteris Vasks. The interplay of music and dance appears as an organic process: Melody and movement inspire, whip and calm each other. The sadness and the hope of Vasks' pieces are also found in the choreography by Sasha Riva – a powerful dancing counterpart. As a mirror of the ballet, the music of Vasks finds its own expression for the message by the very special melody that is sometimes trembling or energetic, loud and menacing or timidly and softly swelling – just as the dance is creating the emotions by the movement.
Especially the musical mood of Vasks' composition was crucial for the creation process. On top, each dancer had the opportunity to develop his or her very own handwriting and give a personal dance expression to the choreography. With this reduced benchmark, Sasha Riva had the same claim like Peteris Vasks who also wants to give only some rough ideas about the message by his titles and get the audience as much freedom as possible. For Sasha Riva it was important not to give too much content of the story. Each spectator is required to find their own words to the pictures and dance parts to tell an own story.
Sasha Riva's ballet is a pleading for more communication, a ballet about relationships, about jealousy and longing. How much do we listen to each other? How much do we talk to each other? How much can you miss someone, although the person is right in front of you? Sasha Riva asks all these questions with movements and gestures of varying kinds: sometimes massive and then airy, sometimes plaintive and then demanding or ruthless. Invisible words fall and are caught again by the dancers. Movements seem like the flapping of birds that are desperately trying to free themselves. The movements are hesitating, touching, looking – for someone else, after oneself, after a footing. Energetic, choppy steps are replaced by fragile gestures that want to get caught. Limbs are pulled, thrown, pushed. Pulsating hands are beating behind the walls as they would like to pick up the heartbeat of life. Soundless screams fall silent. Bodies are a unity, embrace each other, separate again and repel each other as opposites.
Sasha Riva has found powerful dance images that are enhanced by the simple costume and set design. All these touching pictures are a scream for more communication and the desire for being protected. Sasha Riva shows in "Muted" how short human life is. The omnipresence of death in the choreography seems to remind everybody to focus on what is important in life. The girl that has emerged out of darkness at the beginning of the choreography disappears in the end as quietly as it came out of nothing.
Photo © Daniel Barth