CULTURE

Vienna State Opera Ballet stays elegant with Balanchine, Zanella

The celebrated Vienna State Opera Ballet is currently in Athens, where, weather permitting, it is billed to perform the last of two shows at the Herod Atticus Theater tonight. The troupe has been in Greece before; in 1981 it was in Athens with Rudolf Nureyev, and in the summer of 1988 it introduced the country’s dance aficionados to the choreographies of Jiri Kylian, Hans van Manen and Rudi van Dantzig. But for tonight’s show, the ballet group has turned to the master of neoclassical ballet, George Balanchine – presenting the landmark works «Theme and Variations» and «Pas de Deux,» both set to music by Tchaikovsky – and to a festive set of waltzes, quadrilles and polkas with «Allez Walzer,» a piece by troupe director Renato Zanella, set to music by Johann Strauss II, Josef Strauss and Gustav Mahler. Founded in 1771 by Empress Maria Theresa and after centuries of constant change and turmoil, the Vienna State Opera Ballet now stands as one of the world’s leading representatives of classical and neoclassical dance – also embracing contemporary trends – showcasing the work of many of history’s greatest artists: Gasparo Angiolini, Jean-George Noverre, Salvatore Vigano, Paul Taglioni, Leonid Massine and John Neumeier, to name a few. Since 1995, the Vienna State Opera Ballet has been led by 41-year-old Zanella, an eminent Italian choreographer who was previously the house choreographer of the Stuttgart Ballet, where he created several pieces that won him international acclaim. Among those with the biggest losses were the preferred stock of Alisida, and Connection.