Capital culture in Bangkok
By Jules Kay
The Bangkok International Festival of Dance & Music offers culture seekers the capital's biggest and most comprehensive showcase of international performing arts. Now in its 13th year, the festival takes place at the Thailand Cultural Centre, and will be held from 9 September – 16 October, when professional dance companies and orchestras from countries as diverse as Brazil, Germany, Russia and United Kingdom will descend on Bangkok to perform 17 different productions.
Since the festival launched back in 1999, it has grown to become a world class event, attracting a loyal following and a global audience over a 5 week period every year who gather to enjoy the performances at Thailand's largest theatre and orchestra space. The festival has built a solid reputation as one of the most impressive events in Asia and attracts several thousand overseas visitors who fly in specially to attend the spectacular calendar of events, which includes ballet, opera, classical music, contemporary dance and figure skating.
This year's performances include Swan Lake on Ice, performed by the Imperial Ice Stars, United Kingdom, Balé de Rua from Brazil and Casa Azul, by the Donlon Dance Company from Germany. A particular festival highlight will be Russia's Mariinsky Ballet, accompanied by Mariinsky Symphony Orchestra from St. Petersburg who will perform three presentations: Le Corsaire, Don Quixote and a special Mariinsky Ballet Gala performance.
Originally established over 250 years ago by Catherine the Great , the Mariinsky Ballet is one of the world's most important cultural legacies. Originally led by ballet legend Marius Petipa, its aim was to discover en train Russia's top talent and the results are still very evident today. The Mariinsky's principal dancers include famous names like Alina Somova, Evgeny Ivanchenko, Daria Vasnetsova, Vladimir Shklyarov, Daniil Korsuntsev and Ekaterina Kondaurova all of whom will be performing in the festival, offering dance enthusiasts a rare opportunity to witness their impeccable technique and refined physical poetry in action.
Beyond the boundaries of traditional dance, the Dutch contemporary dance company Introdans, which has been producing artists since 1971, will also present four productions. Their performances are known to blend classic pieces with more contemporary, avant-garde moves, delighting lovers of movement and artistic innovation. Equally cutting edge, the U-Theatre from Taiwan will also offer something different in its "Meeting with Bodhisattva", a fascinating ritualistic performance that merges drumming with martial arts moves and theatre.
For families, both parents and their offspring will be enchanted by the creativity and energy on display in performances by the Flying Superkids from Denmark. The troop features trained gymnasts aged seven and up who somersault, tumble, build human pyramids and generally challenge the laws of gravity, while singing and dancing at the same time. Meanwhile, on a more sedentary level, there's a unique chance to see the BBC's famous Blue Planet series live, projected onto an enormous high-definition screen, the dramatic images accompanied George Fenton's original soundtrack performed live by an orchestra and choir.