Review: Holiday course "Backstage - Totally ballet"

Backstage auf der Bühne der Deutschen Oper Berlin Backstage auf der Bühne der Deutschen Oper Berlin Perücken in der Maskenwerkstatt Perücken in der Maskenwerkstatt Maskenkunst Maskenkunst In der Kostümwerkstatt In der Kostümwerkstatt Orchesterprobensaal der Deutschen Oper Berlin Orchesterprobensaal der Deutschen Oper Berlin

The curtain falls, the orchestra begins to play, the spotlight turns on and the ballet dancers present the audience, styled in costumes and make-up, a perfect performance.

That is the part the audience knows and admires thus the actual performance is only a small part of the ballet. Beside the dancers, there is a huge staff who is responsible for all the other elements like costumes, sets and lightning, who make the performance so unique.

Due to this fact, Tanz ist KLASSE! e.V. offered teenagers in the age between 13 and 18 years the workshop “Backstage – Totally ballett” during the autumn holidays. In this four-day workshop, the participants got exclusive insights and got to know the different crafts working in an opera house.

The workshop started on the 24thof October with the welcoming of the ten teenagers of our pedagogue Stefan Witzel. To avoid tired bodies and faces, an active part immediately followed in which the members got to know each other better and to express themselves creatively.

The main characters of a performance are certainly the dancers. Because of this, the group visited the training of the ballet dancers of the Staatsballett Berlin. After the training, the group went to the hair and make-up department. A makeup artist told the teenagers a lot about wigs and there making and showed them some techniques of makeup.

On the second day of the workshop, the group visited a place outside of the Deutsche Oper. They went to the place where all the costumes and settings of the three opera houses in Berlin and the Staatsballett Berlin are produced: the Bühnenservice of the Stiftung Oper Berlin. The participants got to see the making of the costumes and settings of the productions “Don Quixote” and “Romeo and Juliet” which will have their premieres in 2018.

After the teenagers returned to the Deutsche Oper Berlin they had the actually stand on the big stage of this opera house. Afterwards they went to see the stage from the top by going onto the “tower”. Luckily, no one of the teenagers had fear of heights.

The third day started in the Foyer de la danse with a presentation about the choreology of ballet. Marzena Sobanska works as a ballet mistress and choreologist at the Staatsballett Berlin. The choreology is the way to notate all the dance movements within a ballet production. A choreologist needs to attend an education to learn all the signs and techniques.

After the presentation the teenagers made a small tour through the costume stock of the opera. The amount of costumes hanging only in this stock, one of many others, made the participants of the workshop realize how big all the productions are. By touching some of the costumes, the teenagers realized how heavy some of the dresses are. In the afternoon of the third day, the group went to the rehearsal stage of the orchestra to meet a drummer of the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper. The teenagers could try many instruments and could ask the drummer every question they had about the life of a musician and the orchestra.

In the last three days, the teenagers had explored every part backstage of the opera house and the ballet company. On the last day of the workshop, they completed the experiences with a stage rehearsal of the opera “Nabucco”. The teenagers could gaze the revolving stage and met again with the drummer of the orchestra.

After the rehearsal, the participants met the first soloist Elisa Carrillo Cabrera in the foyer de la danse. The teenagers hat the chance to ask her questions about her life and about ballet in general.

For example, they were interested in the diet of a ballet dancer, if they have strict standards or can eat what they want. Furthermore, they asked her whether there is any kind of competition between the dancers. One of the teenagers asked Elisa for her role models and if she had continued dancing during her pregnancy.

After the interview the last hours of the workshop took place where it all begun: in the ballet studio. All the movements and steps of the last active parts were combined to a choreography. After four exciting days, the members left the Staatsballett Berlin with unique experiences. The next time the teenagers will visit a performance of the Staatsballett Berlin, they will surely see it from a different perspective.


Text: Luka Zietemann (FSJ Kultur)