Reviews of 7 – Martin Schläpfer (world premiere)

Major company, major responsibility, major achievement. It is fascinating to watch and wonder at the way Düsseldorf’s ballet director Martin Schläpfer grows in the stature of an assignment which is clearly close to his heart. […] And whether it is the music of Morton Feldman, of Johannes Brahms or, as in this case, Gustav Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, it is each time exciting and in its way always different. The public of Ballett am Rhein is truly to be envied, because it can at this time applaud a choreographer who is currently the most significant in Germany. And applaud they do at “7”, with considerable relish. […] At Deutsche Oper am Rhein the ballet sees no need to harness megalomania, which on the dance stage can leave a dubious taste behind it. Here, a choreographer meets his score eye to eye in dialogue, wrests continually new facets and moods out of it, lays structures bare and proffers his own.

Manuel Brug, Die Welt


When Martin Schläpfer addresses a new work, he looks for a music which provides him with a place to work in. He needs no specific narrative structure, but if he offers one, it is that of human beings driven by modern times and striving. The artistic greatness of the ballet director is that he sweeps the public along with him and touches them unerringly, as he did once again anew and wonderfully with his choreography to Gustav Mahler’s Seventh Symphony. […] In his world premiere “7”, Schläpfer accomplishes the feat of making the compactness of Mahler’s life and output legible, while at the same time erecting his own mental construction without causing any friction between the two. Focal point is the human dilemma of being determined and obliged to make one’s mark, though beset the while by the agony of a distant recollection of Paradise. It is a joy to observe how Schläpfer here, with his admirable dancers and with his brilliantly gifted set and costume designer Florian Etti, refreshes his vocabulary and steers clear of lurking pathos. […] It is an outstanding work that Schläpfer has created. The public exulted.

Sema Kouschkerian, Westdeutsche Zeitung


But Schläpfer’s art is one of interfusion, of scenic interlocking, his material – humanity itself. In his Mahler evening “7” also, he compiled a fantastic collage with the help of deliriously crafty dance rhetoric and mise-en-scène. Mahler’s symphony works its way up from ruminatory regions to the light at the end of the tunnel of rationality, albeit continually stumbling into crises and doubts on the way. Such is also the course of Schläpfer’s choreography. […] Half a century ago Maurice Béjart made the “Boléro” immortal with table, dancer and roused mob; as a historic foundation for the finale of Schläpfer’s “7”, these here evoke an image of primeval force – unforgettable.

Dorion Weickmann, Süddeutsche Zeitung


The stature of Schläpfer’s art lies in his searching for the essence of a composition which he distils out of the symphonic whoppers, re-stating their rhythms and tonal colouring and indeed even their structure in terms of visual imagery. He succeeds again in this with Mahler’s 7th symphony, many-shaded as it is, with earnest and humour, with narrative episodes and abstract formations. One can only be amazed over and over again at the ballet director’s ability to place his own entirely idiosyncratic visual world alongside the music while nevertheless drawing it all out of the score.

Dorothee Krings, Rheinische Post


It is no surprise that this year the Ballett am Rhein surrounding Martin Schläpfer was cited as the Company of the Year by an international critics’ referendum. The choreographer has an uncanny way of conjuring that beauty which is the domain of classical dance. Sometimes all one needs is to go to the theatre and yield to this beauty.

Isabelle Jakob, Neue Zürcher Zeitung


Love, loss, loneliness and despair: shaded in by the unstinting dancers of Ballett am Rhein who channel real emotional intelligence into the technical aplomb they display across a fascinating collage of styles. Dancers and audience alike could not have wished for a finer accompaniment to Schläpfer’s compelling choreography.

Mary Brennan, The Herald


Mahler’s Seventh Symphony is supposedly the difficult, enigmatic, hard-to-like one, but Schläpfer’s visualization of it in “Seven” (2013) embraces and makes a virtue of that difficulty, revealing it as a vibrant richness, full of surprises. (…) This is superlative programming from the EIF, and a deeply serious, deeply joyful fusion of dance and music.

Hanna Weibye,