Academy of Dance
Director: Prof. Birgit Keil
Cooperation agreements and exchanges
Of particular note is the cooperation agreement with the Karlsruhe State Theatre of Baden, on which subject the press Badische Neueste Nachrichten / BNN (15.16.06.2002) wrote:
State Theatre of Baden and the Mannheim Academy of Dance
Love and willingness to perform
Ballet students experience stage practice in Karlsruhe
Presents seldom fall from heaven, but sometimes they appear unexpectedly. For her it was like "Christmas and birthday all rolled into one - every single day" affirmed Birgit Keil yesterday after seeing the International Dictionary of Ballet "without doubt the most important ballerina of her time". Achim Thorwald, designated Artistic Director of the State Theatre of Baden, knows the much praised and charming dancer from Stuttgart where she began her glittering career at the start of the 60's with John Cranko. Since 1997 she has been Director of the Academy of Dance at the Mannheim University of Music and Performing Arts, and it is in this role that she has now become a subject of interest to Thorwald and his Administrative Director, Wolfgang Sieber. Together they have developed the idea of a "Ballet studio“, with the aim of providing young dance students with the opportunity to try out their abilities at an early stage in the surroundings of a theatre company. Thorwald also sees this step as a sign: "In Germany, ballet is always first in line when savings have to be made" explained the future Karlsruhe manager in Mannheim. "We want to do something against this."
To this end, a contract was agreed between the University of Mannheim and the Karlsruhe Theatre, which was initially limited to two years with the option of an ongoing extension. It provides the opportunity for highly talented students to become familiar with all ballet productions right from the start for one year. In addition, they receive a small grant and will be used in a choreography routine. A confirmed upcoming production is "Und ich sah", which the Karlsruhe Spartenchef Pierre Wyss will work on after "The Apocalypse of John" and intends to bring out on 18th January.
Indeed a gift from heaven for Wyss, who has not yet made his name in Karlsruhe. He may have to give up one and a half positions for this, but in return he will receive for his productions seven highly motivated male and female dancers, who yesterday impressively proved what they are made of in the Ballettsaal IV of the Mannheim University.
Reinforced by Swiss Anne Marchand, who already has a contract for a permanent position under her belt, Brazilians Paloma Souza, Patricia Namba, Diego de Paula, Marcos Meñha, Alexandre Simoes and Felippe Rocha together with Slovenian Barbara Skrlj demonstrated that their technique is coupled with humour, momentum, enthusiasm and extraordinary charisma.
For Birgit Keil this combination is indispensable. The highest jumps, the fastest pirouettes? "You may as well use a sportsman" according to the dancer, who was named as chamber ballerina some two decades ago. She looks for a striking personality; in return her young élèves receive highly individualised tutoring, and also a lot of love. "We can't just treat them like truck drivers" commented the Director of the Dance Academy, proudly looking back on the historical legacy which her institute is founded on: As early as 1762, an "Académie de Danse" was founded in Mannheim during the times of the Elector Carl Theodor – the third of its kind in Europe after Paris and St. Petersburg.
Keil quickly emphasises that there is no doubt about the highest precept in her field: absolute willingness to perform. "Anyone who has the slightest doubt needn't bother coming." Easy success, fast money and the pursuit of endless leisure – everything that falls under the concept of "instant satisfaction" is not to be had in this field. Perhaps, suspects Keil, there is a reason for this "sadly, in Germany, talent is not currently as abundant in the quantity that we would wish for."
However, those that are prepared to sacrifice themselves have a chance in this profession: The stage practice year in Karlsruhe which is completed alongside the students' academic studies may seem like a gift sent from heaven for the talented seven, but it is nevertheless the product of hard work. One thing is clear for Birgit Keil (and she refers here to George Balanchine): "Dance is a question of morale." And a question of joy, as you can now experience in Mannheim.