From the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden
Ghost Light is an answer to social distancing brought on by the corona pandemic. The Hamburg Ballet was one of the first companies worldwide to resume rehearsals on the ballet stage after the lockdowns. What began as an attempt to integrate a sophisticated hygiene concept in the company’s daily training regimen grew into a full-length ballet for all sixty dancers to piano music by Franz Schubert.
“Ghost Light is an ensemble ballet that I had to develop in fragments,” explains Neumeier. “It is like a symphony with different parts for different instruments – or a traditional Japanese meal: a sequence of meticulously arranged, hopefully ‘exquisite’ miniatures.”
The title Ghost Light alludes to an American theatre tradition: after a rehearsal or performance, a metal stand with a single light bulb is placed in the middle of the stage, signaling that the stage is now off limits to the artists. This “ghost light” is left on all night – until the next day’s schedule fills the stage with life again.
The Hamburg Ballet was one of the first companies worldwide to resume its rehearsals on the ballet stage after the lockdown in March 2020. On 11 May John Neumeier began working on a new ballet for fifty-five dancers that would comply with the company’s own hygiene restrictions. The new work not only respects the need for social distancing, but has made it part of the choreography.
Abiding by the rules in force in the summer of 2020, therefore, all the pas de deux are performed by dancers who are couples in private, too.