Oct 22, 2021
CULTURE BUFFS OF BANGKOK have been waiting for this festival for two years. The (usually) annual event that brings theatrical high-arts from all over the world to the City of Angels, Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance & Music is finally back this year for its 23rd iteration, from November 18 to December 16, 2021 — just in time to celebrate leaving lockdown behind.
The six must-see shows on the docket — beloved ballets Swan Lake and Nutcracker from the Russian Multimedia Ballet Theatre, avant-garde flamenco by Spanish brothers Los Vivancos, the French cinematographic hip-hop dance show Motion, and some of the globe’s top names in opera, Katherine Jenkins, Joseph Calleja and Celine Byrne — bring to the Thailand Cultural Centre an exciting diverse array of talent and completely innovative interpretations of arts that are acclaimed the world over and appeal to all tastes and ages.
The enchantment commences with the timeless Swan Lake and the festive Nutcracker — the former, a tale of true love overcoming evil, the latter a little girl’s Christmas reverie. No season would be complete without these classic shows, but the Russian Multimedia Ballet Theatre reimagines them like no one else: combining cutting-edge multimedia content and innovative stage-design technologies with classical traditions and timeless choreography and music to create wholly original new shows that beautifully preserve the original works. With the dancers moving between projections and the stage, the audience is plunged directly into the performance, helping to make ballet as an elite art appealing to the widest possible viewership. These breathtaking 3D shows star Kristina Kretova and Igor Tsvirko, two principal dancers of one of the world’s most prestigious companies, the Bolshoi Ballet.
Next come seven smoking-hot brothers whose moves will get you dancing in your seats along with them. Elías, Judah, Josua, Cristo, Israel, Aarón and Josué Vivancos are Los Vivancos — and their brand of extreme flamenco fusion has made these Spanish siblings a multi-award-winning group that has performed in more than 35 countries for a million-plus spectators worldwide, including Princess Stephanie of Monaco and the audience of the Euro Cup. All successful musicians and/or dancers independently, together they meld flamenco with humor, martial arts, musical virtuosity, aerial acrobatics and the avant garde. With an innovative set design that turns dance into a near balancing-act performance, they return to the Bangkok Festival this year with an audacious display of spectacular athleticism, great technical virtuosity and artistic eclecticism. But don’t take our word for it: Israel Vivancos holds the Guinness World Record for fastest flamenco feet in the world, with a ridiculous 1,317 taps in a minute!
Prepare to be blown away by the Mega Superstars of Opera event, headlined by Joseph Calleja and Celine Byrne. Grammy-nominated, Maltese-born Calleja has been hailed by NPR as “arguably today’s finest lyric tenor,” was voted Gramophone magazine’s 2012 Artist of the Year, and won the 2014 International Opera Awards’ Readers’ Award. Byrne, a multiple-award-winning soprano from Kildare, Ireland, praised by Opera Magazine as a performer “of fine lyrical quality and a touching actor,” has sung all over the world at many prestigious events including for dignitaries such as President Barack Obama, HRH Queen Elizabeth II and both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, and is back by popular demand having performed with Jose Carreras at the closing night of Bangkok’s 21st International Festival of Dance & Music in 2019.
Calleja and Byrne will be joined at this Festival in Bangkok by multiple-award-winning Russian opera, ballet and symphony conductor Konstantin Chudovsky, the Principal Conductor of Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile, whose ability to speak six languages fluently paired with an extraordinary musical memory allow him to conduct a wide operatic repertoire by heart without consulting a full score.
Motion elevates the street art of dance battles to a high form, using cinematography, computer science and the written word. Nine dancers from France and Belgium exuberantly interact with a screen that becomes their playground, on which they display their physical, rhythmic, acrobatic and technological prowess that has garnered them awards at international competitions. Hip-hop dancing and breakdancing become poetry in this gravity-defying show that will leave you inspired and full of energy. The group’s founder, Brahim Bouchelaghem, has been dancing, developing, choreographing and promoting hip-hop dance since 1984, and has received the medal of honor of the city of Roubaix and the medal of Chevalier of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of Culture and Communication of France.
And finally, the Festival crescendos with a favorite of the British royal family, superstar mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins OBE, who officially became the world’s most successful classical singer in 2020, the year she was anointed ‘The Biggest Selling Classical Artist of the Century’ by Classic FM, and gained her 14th No. 1 album. This is a woman who has smashed all the record books since her debut performance at the Sydney Opera House in 2003, which was closely followed by an appearance at Westminster Cathedral in honor of Pope John Paul II’s Silver Jubilee that led down a road of fairytale successes that most recently culminated in Jenkins singing at Her Majesty The Queen’s birthday celebrations at Windsor Castle. This perennial concert sell-out is also a talisman for her Welsh rugby team, singing the national anthem before their important matches.
Bangkok’s 23rd International Festival of Dance & Music is a celebration of the enduring spirit of humankind. To be a part of this pioneering, innovative, inspiring event, reserve your seats at thaiticketmajor.com.
The organizers are dedicated to putting on a safe and enjoyable Festival for all. Among other health protocols, the audience in the Thailand Cultural Centre will be capped at 50% capacity (visit bangkokfestivals.com for complete rules). And so, in the interest of bringing the arts to as many people as possible, this year the Bangkok Festival will be viewable for the first time via livestream on zipeventapp.com.
Swan Lake: Thursday 18 Nov and Friday 19 Nov at 7pm
Nutcracker: Saturday 20 Nov at 7pm, and Sunday 21 Nov at 2:30pm
Los Viviancos: Friday 26 Nov at 7pm
Joseph Calleja and Celine Byrne: Tuesday 30 Nov at 7pm
Motion: Sunday 12 Dec at 2:30pm
Katherine Jenkins: Thursday 16 Dec at 7pm
Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance & Music began in 1999 to commemorate the 6th cycle birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. From its inception in 1999 to 2004, H.R.H. Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra was the Honorary Chairperson and then from 2004 until Her demise was its Royal Patron. From May 2008 H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn took over as the Royal Patron.
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