Parallels between management and ballet
No sooner had the first semester started, an exciting project awaited our students at Management, Communication & IT. For the first time this year, our MCiT students had the chance look behind the scenes of the Tiroler Landestheater. In an excursion, they visited a rehearsal of the Tanzcompany Innsbruck and gained insights into the life of professional dancers. An exciting experience, as can be read in the reflections of our students Stefan Santifaller and Manuel Wildauer.
Reflection | Manuel Wildauer
On Thursday, October 17th, 2019 our cohort of "Management, Communication & IT" was allowed to attend a rehearsal of the Tanzcompany at the Tiroler Landestheater. A week before, ballet mistress Martine Reyn had already given us some information about the life of a ballet dancer. Hardly anyone of us had ever been to a ballet before, and even less of us knew Shakespear's play "The Tempest". I honestly have to admit that at this point I had never thought of ever seeing such a show.
At exactly 10:45 am Martine met us at the side entrance and guided us to the seats in the front row of the audience. The dancers were already on stage, doing their last warm-up exercises, while the head of the Tanzcompany, Enrique Gasa Valga, gave us a warm welcome. Together with the ballet mistress, he also introduced us to further employees who were not directly acting on the stage: Helfried, the stage designer, and Ellen, the stage manager, were also working throughout the entire rehearsals. As final information we were told that we were going to see the second part of the play. Without any clue what I should expect the next two hours, the show began. After some minutes uncertainty, I was more and more fascinated by the shown performances. The dancers’ discipline and the perfect timing were overwhelming. Every step and every single movement were accurately tuned to each other and all moves were taken out in high precision. In my opinion, as well trust in the partner as also in the whole team plays a crucial role. The dancers have to trust each other implicitly, both in lifts as also in every single step sequences. Since we had the best seats in the theater, we were also able to observe them very well. I can only agree with Mrs. Reyn’s statement, that all dancers are fit and good looking. However, I think that without these characteristics someone would not be able to stand the very demanding trainings and shows. On the other side, we also became the impression that there was a strong focus but also pressure on appearance and some women almost looked malnourished.
The music, chosen by the director Enrique himself, perfectly fitted to each scenario and puts you in a kind of trance. Within the well-deserved 20 minutes break, Martine and Enrique told us that there were still two weeks to go before the premiere, hence, the actors were not yet giving 100 %. This surprised me very much. To my opinion, all participants seemed very focused and transmitted the emotions with their body language, as they could not express them through words. During the break the stage designer also introduced us to the story that we had just seen as a dance. In my eyes, Enrique is a very ambitious worker and a perfectionist. He immediately wanted to hear our opinion and asked us what we did not like about what we had seen. Although he says that he is not interested in the reviews about the play, I still believe that it has a great meaning to him, since he works with every new good performance on the renewal of his contract.
I think we have some similarities with the Tanzcompany as a program of studies of the MCiT, but we also differ in many ways. The hierarchy that exists under the head, the ballet mistress, and the dancers can also be found in our department. Furthermore, we are a very good team as a cohort and we work well together, but we honestly have to admit that the dancers are one step ahead in terms of team play, at least on stage. The most important difference for me is that in our sector we are constantly expanding our knowledge and building on the basic knowledge, while the dancers, with any respect for the work, can more or less forget their already performed choreographies, as they do not need them again.
All in all, I have to admit that I really liked the ballet and there are some things that really caught my attantion. I wish the whole team around Enrique and Martine that all performances are sold out and that they get the praise for their hard work. I will certainly find myself in a ballet performance again in the future.
Reflection | Stefan Santifaller
A glance on my watch says 10:43 am. The last meters along the Burggraben, the destination of our excursion already in sight. Martine Reyn - ballet mistress and responsible for the training and the technical perfection of the Tanzcompany Innsbruck - is already waiting for us to guide us into the Landestheater Innsbruck at 11.00 sharp. Zero-delay-tolerance. With uncertainty and full of expectations we enter the huge hall of the Landestheater. Ballet had never interested me in any way, but the presentation of the Tanzcompany and the introduction to the play in the previous lecture sounded very promising and made me curious. On Saturday, November 2nd, 2019 about 800 to 900 spectators will fill the rows up to the last seat and go on the dramatic journey of Prosperos and his daughter with the dance production after the play "The Storm" by Shakespeare, staged by Enrique Gasa Valga, director of the Tanzcompany. Although the professional dancers are already in preparation week six out of eight, the sharp instructions from Martine Reyn and Enrique Gasa Valga during the practice showed that the road to the premiere is still a long one. The last two weeks of preparation will serve to work intensively on perfection and synchronicity. Each movement of the dancers is repeated several times and coordinated with other moves. One of the most surprising aspects was the contrast between the energetic group dances, framed by exciting piano sounds, and the plain and musicless part of the soloist, which leads to neutrality and variety. The stage designer is still testing the last special effects to add even more emotion for the audience and the lighting technician works on having the soloist appear exactly in the cone of light on the dark stage.
The interaction of the different areas, which is seen as a whole at the end, can also be found in a company and brings to mind the question about similarities in dance sport and business, which we dealt with in the last course and which is also the reason for the excursion. - There are quite a number of them.
Ballet the way you wouldn't expect it.
"This is only for kids or girls. It's unfashionable and absolutely boring."
After two hours watching the rehearsal, I can’t support all these prejudices any longer. I had never imagined that ballet demands so much persistence, strength, as well as physical tension and can arouse so many emotions. It is a very long and steep stairway up to the level of a professional dancer. Ballet should be started at a very young age of ten to twelve in order to make the dream of childhood possible: Gliding like a feather over the stage in toe shoes in front of a closed curtain. However, this fantasy quickly fades into the background of the young dancers. Soon it becomes clear that this means years of hard work. Eight hours of daily exercise and around 100 performances per year also characterize the fully trained and mostly very slim bodies of the dancers in the Landestheater. Not excluding injuries - one of the reasons that makes the dream burst. The more respect deserves every single person who has made it to the top and who just repeats the last powerful scene of the second act. In less than two weeks a thousand visitors will form their own opinions about the piece and the performance of the dancers. It is therefore simple to understand the tension of Enrique Gasa Valga, who stands behind the name of the Tanzcompany Innsbruck.