As soon as our actions are aligned with a model or a system of rules, we follow a paradigm. A pattern is automatically derived from this, which allows certain actions and excludes others. In an artistic context, a prevailing system of rules has always led to intense disputes, either by submitting to the rules, reinterpreting them or completely overturning the canon. The history of dance is fundamentally characterised by such developments. Because simply dancing to a predetermined form quickly solidifies into a soulless empty formula, dance makers endeavour to uncover expressive potentials.

The three pieces of the ballet evening "Paradigma" are dramaturgically linked by their exploration of the limits and possibilities of a given structure. In all three pieces, it is clear to see how the initial artistic setting is followed by a transgression of the initial conditions. In “Bedroom Folk” by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, it is the pulse of electronic music that divides time into a strictly organised sequence of individual moments. The dancers react to this strict acoustic pattern by gaining creative potential from the constraints of the rhythm and exploring the possibilities granted to them by the acoustic system.

Russell Maliphant's choreography "Broken Fall" deals with one of the most powerful structural elements of all: nothingness. In its purest form, nothingness cannot be represented at all, which leads to a paradox when it is to be organised musically or choreographically. In "Broken Fall", nothingness appears on the one hand in the evocation of falling. In ever-changing variations, the trio of dancers creates situations in which the risk of letting go becomes tangible for the audience.

For "With a Chance of Rain", Liam Scarlett has compiled preludes by Sergei W. Rachmaninov into a round dance that depicts an entire spectrum of the soul. The predetermined structure in "With a Chance of Rain" consists of the well-composed and pianistically precisely balanced evocation of emotional worlds that are characterised by a melancholy undertone. Liam Scarlett responds choreographically to Rachmaninov's lyrical and dramatic piano work by constructing a progression of different emotional states using a repertoire of forms developed from neoclassical ballet.

Just as every paradigm has its own order, there are always forces at work that run counter to the dominant scheme and gain creative impetus precisely from this. These impulses are clearly perceptible in all three choreographies in "Paradigma". They either follow the given order or set a counterpoint, adding an additional means of expression to the overarching paradigm. The ballet evening gains its dynamism from this exciting interplay between the three choreographic styles. It shows the room for manoeuvre that exists within every limitation.

Excerpt from the programme booklet for the triple bill "Paradigma"

Premiere at the Bayerisches Staatsballett in the Nationaltheater Munich on 18 December 2020

Photos: © Bayerisches Staatsballett / Katja Lotter

Text: © Bayerisches Staatsballett / Serge Honegger