Scottish premiere for Zurich

SATING the appetites of the city's dance fans next week, the Zurich Ballet opens the Edinburgh Festival Theatre's autumn season with the Scottish premiere of In den Winden Im Nichts, which comes to town for a four-night run from Wednesday to Saturday.

The acclaimed Swiss company, who will be playing their only UK dates in the Capital next week, have never before appeared on Scottish soil, but arrive with an enormous reputation.

John Stalker, chief executive of the Festival City Theatres Trust, which runs both the King's and Festival Theatre, is just one of the many who is looking forward to the event.

"For sheer beauty I can't recommend the dancers of Zurich Ballet highly enough," he says.

Likened to synchronised swimming, with dancers performing acrobatic-style movements to the sound of three JS Bach cello concertos, In den winden Im Nichts (winds in the void) is the second of Zurich Ballet artistic director Heinz Spoerli's ballets set to the German genius composer's cello suites.

The initial Bach work entitled Und Mied und Wind, created back in 1999, was set to the cello suites numbers I, IV and V, looking to the elements of earth, water and fire.

Created in 2003, this version of In den Winden Im Nichts is performed to the final three of Bach's Cello suites II, III and VI and, in contrast, its choreography is driven by the wind.

These suites are based on popular and "court" dances, which Spoerli has translated into stylised movements, said to be every bit as precise and pure as the music itself.

Contemporary modern and everyday movement themes are entwined into the very elegant forms of neoclassical ballet steps.

At the beginning of suite number VI a group of 15 dancers move like a flock of long-legged restive birds. The entrances and exits are often so abrupt it is as if the dancers were blown across the stage by gusts of wind. Spoerli combines tradition with new ideas and possibilities and central to his creations is the music.

"When I create, I allow myself to be carried away by the music," he says. "My choreography is engaged in a dialogue with it.

"I like all kinds of music and I created ballets to music by highly diverse composers, but my relationship with Bach is particularly special," he says.

Spoerli, who has consolidated his reputation as one of Europe's leading choreographers, adds: "In my opinion he remains a highly contemporary composer. He puts me in a creative mood, allows me to concentrate."

Spoerli has also established a Junior Ballet for young dancers, many of whom will perform alongside the main company in Edinburgh.

In recent years, the highly acclaimed Zurich Ballet has travelled extensively overseas - from Tokyo and Peking to London and Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai, Cape Town and Singapore - and these exclusive UK performances are certainly ones not to miss.

• Zurich Ballet: In den Winden Im Nichts, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, 7.30pm, Wednesday-October 7, 10-28, Tel: 0131 529 6000

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