The Cincinnati Ballet’s “Mozart’s Requiem,” a ballet choreographed to the great composer’s final, gloomy, unfinished work, “Requiem Mass in D Minor,” debuted to wide enthusiasm in 2010. While a return performance was never in doubt, it took until March 20-21, 2015, to make it happen.
“It was a question of timing,” said Adam Hougland, the Cincinnati Ballet’s resident choreographer. “A lot of people have asked when we were bringing it back, and a lot of people missed it the first time around, because it was one weekend only. The Ballet had its 50th anniversary a few years ago, and because “Requiem” is pretty dark, not very festive or celebratory, it wasn’t thought appropriate to revive it at the time. And you always have to plan these things so far in advance.”
Hougland believes heavily in the theatrical component of dance, that it should tell a story. For that reason, he said “Requiem” is a ballet for people who don’t like ballet.
“The way we pair Mozart with contemporary theatrical ballet is very different and edgy,” he said. “There are people who have been dragged to the ballet since they were young children because their parents were in it, and they felt a connection for the first time. Or they’re dance people who like hearing the music and seeing the dance because they’ve never seen anything put together like that. I’ve had people tell me it helped them deal with something that happened in their family. That’s very moving.”
“Mozart’s Requiem” is divided into two acts. The first act is a series of dark, shadowy vignettes of people in various stages of loss, whether losing a loved one or contemplating suicide, all depicted on a shadowy, ethereal space. For the second act, the doors are thrown open and beams of light stream inward, illuminating the dancers.
“The first act is heavy and dark, occasionally nasty,” Hougland said. “The second act turns it upside-down, and we’re in a kind of limbo space, where people follow an angel to discover the unknown. It’s not a “going to Heaven” kind of answer, but more about people setting down their baggage and letting to. It’s very hopeful at the end.”