Stuttgart research trips

There were several red letter days during each of my three visits to Stuttgart. The first was when I met up again with Reid Anderson and with Dieter Gräfe, who controls the Cranko Estate. We had two long  chats about the book, and as well as giving me valuable  insights about John’s life Dieter granted permission for me to publish Cranko’s letters and other written material. An extra-special event was the premiere of Shades of White, the Stuttgart Ballet’s first programme under the directorship of Tamas Detrich. At the reception I was able to catch up with several former colleagues including the inimitable Egon Madsen who was there from his home in Italy. We arranged a get-together and he gave me information about the making of Cranko’s Poème de L’Extase in which he partnered Margot Fonteyn – the entire ballet was put together in two weeks, and that was hot on the heels one of Cranko’s masterpieces, Brouillards, which was also choreographed in record time.

Vivien Arnold the company’s Director of Communications and Dramaturgy looked after me very well: she set me up with a desk and computer and I was able to retrieve all sorts of info from the company’s database. She also made sure that I had good seats for MacMillan’s Mayerling, (with the amazing Stuttgart-born and bred Friedemann Vogel as Crown Prince Rudolf) . The designs were  by the  ever-youthful Jürgen Rose, and it was wonderful to meet him again after so many years. Lunch with another vintage member of the company was a delight – Georgette (‘Courgette’) Tsinguerides was a soloist dancer with the co. even before Cranko arrived, eventually becoming his choreologist. Now, at  over 90 years young, she speaks so lovingly of Cranko, is as brisk as ever, and still very elegant in high heels.

A triple bill of contemporary works was a revelation, especially Out of Breath by Swede Johan Inger – this was modern ballet at its very best. What an imaginative and, above all, human, work. And what fabulous dancers these Stuttgarters are! Cranko would have been proud.

Few regrets during my trips to Germany, but one was that I kept missing Marcia Haydée who always seemed to be either just departed for Santiago (where she was directing the ballet co.), or was just about to arrive in Stuttgart as I was leaving. 

On a happy note, it was exciting to find that a  2000 volume library of rare dance books was housed at the State Library, just over the road from the theatre. Cranko had persuaded the City fathers to purchase the Leslie-Niles collection which  includes wonderful  books on ancient and classical dance, and manuscripts such as Fokine’s original notes for Daphnis and Chloe. I wonder how many people consult them, or even know that they are there!