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Best of ballet and dance

By Andra Kunstberga. 28.02.2014

Ballet Festival
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Now in its 19th year, the International Baltic Ballet Festival has the aim of bringing the best of ballet and most daring of contemporary dance to Latvian audiences.

The 19th incarnation of this often amazing festival, subtitled From the Classics to the Avant-Garde, is the only festival in Latvia representing professional ballet artists and choreography at the world level, revealing the best of today’s classical ballet as well as daring and innovative contemporary dance.

Initiated in 1996 by ex-prima of the Latvian National Ballet Lita Beiris, now the festival’s director, the event has the aim of enriching Latvia’s cultural life by introducing society to the highest level in dance art and promoting ballet by picturing its diverse spirit through choreography, narrative and musical interpretation and emotional expression. Because of this, it takes place in towns right across Latvia besides the capital city.

Taking place from April 7 until May 15 in Riga, Ventspils, Valmiera, Preiļi and Rēzekne, the festival is keeping to the continuity of tradition by opening at Riga Railway Station with the concert Dvēseles stīgas (Chords of the Soul), involving classical and modern dance choreography staged to the music of much-loved Latvian composer Raimonds Pauls.

Two contemporary dance performances are on offer during the festival, by the Polish Dance Theatre from Poznan, who will demonstrate their individual interpretation of tango by combining choreography with multimedia, and the Brussels contemporary dance company Opinion Public. Meanwhile, the avant-garde show Bicycle Ballet by one of the United Kingdom’s premier dance companies will emphasize the varied character of dance.

Taking one example of these, Opinion Public is composed of five dancers. While drawing inspiration from their personal and professional experiences at the Béjart Ballet Lausanne, the company is driven by a common desire – to create a distinctive choreographic style. This need for independence is confirmed in a project that has become a goal and a vision shared by each member.

The subjects discussed are common to all, and Opinion Public aims to be constantly evolving on a human and artistic level. That’s why it is inspired and guided by events and circumstances, but never frozen its vision.

But perhaps the genuine expression of passion and emotion of flamenco can be witnessed at shows by the famed dancer Jesus Carmona from Barcelona.

Jesus Carmona & Cia Company is a troupe of 10 people – five musicians, four female dancers and Jesus Carmona himself. Carmona, who has a degree in Spanish dance, started his career at the age of seven. In 2011, he was awarded first prize as Outstanding Dancer at the 20th Flamenco and Spanish Dance contest. The show Black & White to be performed at the festival is not just an emotional flamenco show; it’s a demonstration of the philosophy of Yin and Yang.

And the Gala concert, finally, is the apogee of the festival, held at the Latvian National Opera and offering performances by principal ballet dancers, new talents, the winners of international competitions and outstanding choreographers. It reflects new trends in the art of dance, with countries represented including France, Russia, Germany, Hungary and the Baltic countries.



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April 7, 5pm: Festival opening ceremony at Riga Railway Station

April 9, 5pm: Ballet from France “Without Borders on the Wide Screen”, Splendid Palace

April 12, 7.30pm: Opinion Public cie (Belgium) performance BOB'ART, Latvian National Opera, New Hall

April 14, 7pm: Gala Concert, Latvian National Opera

April 16, 7pm: Polish Dance Theatre, Poznan: “Tango with Lady M”, Riga Congress Center

April 23, 5pm: Opening of exhibition “Jewels” / dedication to Balanchine, by Riga and St Petersburg artists, Mentzendorff’s House

April 27, 6pm: “Dance with Piano”, Pianist Diāna Zandberga, Golden Hall, Riga Latvian Society

April 29, 7pm: “Black and White” by flamenco dance company Jesus Carmona&cia, Riga Congress Center

May 18, 7pm: World premiere: Danish Dance Theatre’s “Black Diamond”, Riga Congress Center



April 10, 7pm: Opinion Public cie (Belgium) performance BOB'ART, Preili Regional Cultural Center



April 10, 6pm: “Dance with Piano”, Pianist Diāna Zandberga, Small Hall, Latgalian Embassy GORS

April 30, 7pm: “Black and White” by flamenco dance company Jesus Carmona&cia, Latgalian Embassy GORS



April 14, 7pm: Polish Dance Theatre, Poznan: “Tango with Lady M”, Valmiera Cultural Center



April 28, 7pm: “Black and White” by flamenco dance company Jesus Carmona&cia, Ventspils Theatre House


Tickets available at:

Latvian National Opera ticket office

Riga Congress Center ticket office

Biļešu serviss ticket offices

Biļešu paradīze ticket offices


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