• Inspirations

Dance, Musical, Opera

Dance, Ballet, Musical and Opera inspired by Frida Kahlo's life and art

 

"The Paintings of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Movement - 2023

  

This world premiere dance project is an in-depth analysis of the works of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, which unearths elements inherent in Mexican culture that are deeply rooted in class differences.

Director Zenón Barrón incorporates these into the language of dance in a selection of traditionally based choreographies by focusing on specific elements within the paintings.

This performance was originally presented in 2012 but has been shortened into a single act in 2023.

Click here to download details about the show.

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"Frida Kahlo, Ma réalité" - 2022

Bénédicte Allard, a member of the TNN company since 2022, has created a one-woman show about an iconic woman with a visceral need to create: the famous artist Frida Kahlo. An impertinent and sulphurous diary, an irresistible self-portrait painted in the gold, blood and sweat of a woman in a man's world.

 Bénédicte Allard has declared:

Frida Kahlo has always fascinated me, so I decided to give her flesh.

My encounter with Frida took place seven years ago, when I was writing my Master's dissertation in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, followed by a thesis entitled "Frida Kahlo, Martyr born of collapse". It was then that she came to me as the glaring embodiment of an art born of pain and disintegration. I fell in love with her paintings and, of course, with who she was. Her paintings are her autobiography, reflecting every moment of her life, however intimate. Frida Kahlo, my reality comes from the years I spent with Frida, the long hours I spent scrutinising her colours and reading her pain.

Faced with objectivity and reality, this show chooses the subjectivity and reality of a Frida sharing her paintings of life. Filled with flesh, blood, madness, sex, laughter, suffering, melancholy and love, Frida takes her place in a setting of positivism and love, a great love for life and people, a vital energy that will never leave her: "Viva la vida".

 By & with Bénédicte Allard

Directed & music by Clément Althaus

Click here for images and other info (in French)

 

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"El último sueño de Frida y Diego" ("The Last Dream of Frida and Diego")- 2022

  

Written by Grammy-winning composer Gabriela Lena Frank, the opera features a libretto by Pulitzer-winning playwright Nico Cruz.

They imagine Frida getting over her reluctance to come back from the other world. On the Day of the Dead, she is called back with a mission: to accompany her husband, Diego Rivera, to the beyond. She is drawn in by the possibility of getting another chance to paint.

"During the celebration of Día de muertos (Day of the Dead), surrounded by candles and the fragrance of marigolds, the great muralist Diego Rivera longs to see his deceased wife Frida Kahlo once more. Catrina, the keeper of the souls, approaches Frida in the afterlife, and explains that Diego desperately needs his beloved wife as the end of his life approaches. For only 24 hours, Frida and Diego will relive their tumultuous love through their paintings and embrace the passion they shared."

The opera features an international cast of stars including mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Paz as Frida, baritone Alfredo Daza as Diego, soprano Maria Katzarava as Catrina, and countertenor Key’mon Murrah as Leonardo. Directed by Lorena Maza and conducted by Roberto Kalb.

Click here for the synopsis and all the details about the 2023 dates given by the San Francisco Opera website. 

Read here an interesting article titled "How San Francisco shaped Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera".

Other reviews at this link.

     

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"Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World" - 2021

Based on Kate Pankhurst’s award-winning picture book, the musical tells the story of a 10-year-old called Jade.

Jade takes a field trip to the local museum with her class and is startled to encounter real-life wonder women like Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, and Emmeline Pankhurst, to mention a few.

Jennifer Decilveo, who has worked on Grammy, Brit, and Mercury Prize nominated albums, will be in charge of the musical and orchestrations.

Amy Hodge is the director, Joanna Scotcher is the designer, Dannielle Lecointe is the choreographer, Theatre), Zoe Spurr is the lighting designer, and Carolyn Downing is the sound designer.

Click here for the musical website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"Frida" - 2021

The dancing portrait "painted" by the Italian choreographer, director and founder of the Lyric Dance Company, transports the viewer into the world of strong colors of a woman who expresses the freedom to be herself, without masks, authentic and natural.

«Icon of independent woman, experimenter and revolutionary, Frida Khalo represents a point of reference, a model of strength, independence and style. I wanted to dedicate this new show to her ”, explains Alberto Canestro, the artistic director of the company, who also designed and created the costumes.

Choreography: Alberto Canestro
Costumes: Alberto Canestro and Barbara Loli
Music: Enrico Fabio Cortese
Scenography: Andrea Sole Costa Icon

Click here for images and other info on the Lyric Dance Company (in Italian)

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"Frida" - 2020

The coreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa has retained, unchanged, around 25 of the original 45 minutes’ from Broken Wings; has reworked around thirteen additional minutes’ of pre-existing choreography; and added more than an hour of new material. These old and new elements have been woven together seamlessly like a lavish Mexican shawl

"The narrative is introduced in storybook sequence contained in the stage set of black boxes. It opens on the Day of the Dead, with the ubiquitous skeletons on hand to deliver the schoolgirl Frida, a bubbly child in gym-slip, from the first box. They swing open the doors of the following box to show her happy family, then the action fast forwards to Frida in bed, after the accident, nailed together with surgical pins, her father putting a paintbrush in her hand.

To suggest the scale of Kahlo’s paintings, small in reality, but today commanding international attention and prices, Ochoa has the dancers enact them; at other times, the dancers portray Kahlo’s fantasy world of trees, birds and flowers, which she painted as a way of coping in times of stress. The skeletons are always on hand to shift scenery, to lift and carry and even to indulge in a bit of clowning in what, at times, becomes a circus atmosphere.....

The complex story is deftly handled, there is plenty of inventive choreography and a slew of excellent performances. The costumes are no small part of the success and Ochoa weaves these strands together in a ballet that has both entertainment value and depth."

taken from the review by Dance International 

Click here for other info and the link to Youtube video.

You can also watch on Youtube the "Becoming Frida" series, 4 video episodes about the making of the ballet by the Dutch National Opera & Ballet. In the first episode we learn more about the artist Frida Kahlo and how choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa translates her life into dance. In the second one we can visit the atelier of designer Dieuweke van Reij and  learn what it is like to design a ballet about an icon like Frida, including a first glimpse of the wigs, costumes and the set. In the third episode we can assist to the rehearsals of the Balletorchestra and see an interview with composer Peter Salem and with principal Maia Makhateli about dancing the role of Frida. In the last episode we can follow the final steps of the production towards the premiere, see the final rehearsals and interviews with choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, designer Dieuweke van Reij, Director Ted Brandsen and the dancers.

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"Las Fridas" - 2019

Las Fridas is a 60-minute transcultural-transdisciplinary duet inspired by the life and work of Mexican painter and revolutionary, Frida Kahlo. Marie Baker-Lee and choreographer Mark DeGarmo, artistic associates for over 30 years, perform the two leading roles.

The work explores a transcultural, transdisciplinary art and theater space, while the sum of its two parts suggests a new art form.

It is inspired by the duality of sun and moon, mother and child, sacred and secular, ancient and current as they appear in Kahlo's artwork. Las Fridas calls on each community that engages with it to examine its own history, heritage and assumptions about Kahlo, women, and aging.

The implicit question the movement installation proposes is, "What if Frida Kahlo had lived beyond her forties?" In offering this work for public viewing, choreographer Mark DeGarmo pays homage to his mothers, grandmothers, mentors and friends, including renowned choreographers and dance educators Anna Sokolow and Hanya Holm, educational theorist Maxine Greene, and Living Theatre Co-Founder Judith Malina.

      

NY critics heralded Las Fridas as "brilliant," "mesmerizing," and "fearless."

Click here to read an interview with Mark DeGarmo and Marie Baker-Lee in The Dance Enthusiast.

Click here to view the trailer in Youtube.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"If I Cry" - 2018

Inspired by Frida Kahlo's diaries, Tampa City Ballet takes us  into a surreal dance journey through the legendary artist's life and immortal art. The artistic director of Tampa City Ballet, Paula Nunez, revealed that Frida's diaries served as the source of inspiration for this production.

Her diaries revealed a life of loss and adversity interwoven with her determined will to create works of art while saturating her surroundings with an air of spontaneity and joy" said Nunez. “Tampa City Ballet hopes to transport the audience through a surrealistic dance journey to the poignant and passionate emotional landscape of Frida’s remarkable life

This performance was originally presented in 2018 and back on the stage in May 2024.

Click here for more info and images about the ballet.

YouTube video here.

 

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"Broken Wings" - 2016

"Broken Wings" was choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa for English National Ballet's Triple Bill 'She Said'. The piece was inspired by the life of Frida Kahlo and premiered at Sadlers Wells, London in 2016. Dieuweke van Reij, costume and set designer for opera, dance, theatre, comedy, musical and TV, was invited by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa to design her piece on the life and work of iconic artist Frida Kahlo. She said in an interview: "The challenge for me was to capture the powerful energy of Frida Kahlo’s work without making exact copies of her paintings.

Her work is so strong that I felt I had to find a translation of her personality and work for the designs. Trying to copy anything would never be as impressive as her own paintings.I started using elements and colours of her work and mixing them with the story we wanted to tell, the life she led. The final result has become a mixture of iconic Frida Kahlo images, with a big Mexican influence, a hint of time period and a glance of what we think her dreams and imagination was all about." Click here for the complete interview, other interesting info and pictures.

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Broken Wings returned on February 2019 for She Persisted, an upcoming triple bill of female choreography. Read more at the English National Ballet's website

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"Infinita Frida" - 2015

European premiere on July 5 and 6, 2015 in St. Petersburg at the Alexandrinsky Theatre.  World premiere: 30 August, 2013, Texcoco (Mexico).

Petersburg choreographer, the soloist of the Mariinsky Theatre Yuri Smekalov by the invitation of Elisa Carrillo Cabrera, Principal Dancer of the Berlin State Ballet, a Mexican cultural ambassador, staged the ballet "Infinita Frida" dedicated to the work of the great Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The production was financially supported by the Mexico State Government. 

"Yury Smekalov was able to inspire the leading professionals from all over the world with his concept, as a result the part of Frida and the artist Lisa was performed by the Mexican cultural ambassador and the Principal Dancer of the Berlin State Ballet – Elisa Carrillo Cabrera. The cast included Mikhail Kaniskin and Vladimir Malakhov – the Principal Dancers and soloists of the Berlin State Opera and the Mariinsky Theatre, guest actors of world premiere musical theaters. Original music was written for the ballet by the Russian composer Alexander Maev, costumes and scenery were created by young artist Elissey Shepelyov from St. Petersburg, scenography included video projections made of fragments of paintings by Frida Kahlo, emotionally corresponding to the ballet variations (author Alexander Letsius).

Yury Smekalov is outside of the popularization of the artist’s life story.  On stage the word Infinita is literally present and it is magically repeating itself in the different elements of the performance. Figure 8 as an infinity symbol harmonizes the performance: 8 musicians, 8 dancers performing the dance of Fate, 8 colors used for the scenic design, 8 themes in music."

Taken from Yury Smekalov website

Click here to view a trailer in Youtube

Other images at this website

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"Sisters" - 1998

This interactive ballet has been realized through the Digital Dance System - a tool created at the DIEM (Danish Institute of Electroacoustic Music) - that makes it possible to create interactive music in dancing. It is a wireless, digitaldanceportable system that converts the dancers movements to MIDI and allows them to control the computer music with tehir movements.

The music has been composed by Wainy Siegel, DIEM director, in collaboration with choreographer Marie Brolin-Tani. "Sisters" is a ballet for two dancers (Pernille Fynne and Sophie Konning in the November 1998 performance at an open rehearsal/workshop in Aarhus, Denmark) and the coreography is inspired by Frida's life, characterized both by 'joie de vivre' and productivity but also by her ilness as a result of childhood polio and a trafic accident which rendered her invalid. The ballet portrays the feminin and the masculin side of Frida Kahlo, the way she herself has appeared in several self portraits: as a beautiful, romantic woman and as a body wrapped in an armour of bandage and corset and the numerous nails she had operated into her poor body. One of the costumes is inspired by the corsette worn by Frida Kahlo, and the wires of the interface are exagerated and made visible to the audience. The other costume is more feminine and the interface is hidden.

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"Frida Kahlo" - 1998

"Frida Kahlo"' s coreographer is Johann Kresnik and his ballet was played in 1998 at a Swiss Dance Exhibition named STEPS '98.

KresnikKresnik started his career as a dancer and for ten years, from 1968 to 1978, he was the director of the Bremer Tanztheater. He worked then for several years in Heidelberg to go back to the Bremer Tanztheater in 1989. Among his most famous and controversial works, we can mention 'Ulrike Meinhof', 'König Lear','Wendewut' and obviusly, 'Frida Kahlo' created on 1992. Since 1994 he has been working in Berlin at the Rosa Luxembourg theater. For "Frida Kahlo"'s coreography Kresnik drew his inspiration from Frida's life, and he aims to show us the ambivalent nature of this special woman through scenes full of bitterness, silent pain and beauty.

 

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"Looking For Frida" - 1998

This ballet produced by the Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre is a 50 minute piece based on the life and art of the famous Mexican female artist Frida Kahlo.

logo Ashe

With colorful costumes, lively movement and some traditional music this seven act work pays tribute to an important female artist who suffered physically throughout her life, but maintained her creative spirit. The ballet is presented by 6 dancers in moderne dance theatre form.

After encountering Frida Kahlo’s paintings years ago “I started studying her life, and I thought, ‘This is it, I’m going to do a ballet about Frida Kahlo,’” Susan Collard, Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre’s creative director says.

First choreographed in 1998, the ballet was staged in Asheville, in France (Montpellier and Toulouse), and Merida, Mexico.

“When she was 6 years old, she had polio, and she was 18 when she was in the trolley accident, where she was basically impaled, her spine was shattered, and she was left for dead,” says Coco Palmer-Dolce, who narrates the ACDT show with excepts from Khalo’s diary (kept throughout the last 10 years of her life). Palmer-Dolce adds, “She met death twice before she was 20.” The artist would never fully recover.

To bring Kahlo’s encounters with death to the stage, Collard created a duet in which the painter literally dances with a skeleton. “Remember that Frida always saw death as her friend,” Collard says. “She would hang skeletons on her bed, all over her house, and she called death her companion.”

Jaime McDowell takes on the title part. “Frida is a dichotomy: a woman who loved to party, who was surrounded by friends all the time, but when you look at her paintings, she lets her pain come through,” she says. “She shows her sorrow — the sorrow of knowing that she’s going to live a short life, that her husband is constantly sleeping with other women, that she can’t have children [but] desperately wants children.”

Stepping into that role was no small feat. “The hardest part has been allowing myself to go to certain places that you don’t always want to go to, emotionally,” says McDowell. “Allowing myself to dig inside to find [my] own personal pain and personal heartbreak, and let that come up, has been the hardest part.”

To represent the physical pain that Frida endured throughout her life, Collard dresses her cast in plaster corsets. “Frida [had] many operations on her spine, and she painted her own body casts. She covered them with color,” she says. “I re-created the body casts [for the dancers] because I wanted the movement to be honest. The dancers will be, and are, restricted by these casts, as Frida was.”

(taken from a 2014 article by Mountain Express, Asheville, NC)

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"Frida" - 1991

see a recent poster picture at the right column above

Opera in Two Acts by Robert Xavier Rodríguez
Book by Hilary Blecher; Lyrics and Monologues by Migdalia Cruz

Rodríguez describes Frida as being “in the Gershwin, Sondheim, Kurt Weill tradition of dissolving the barriers and extending the common ground between opera and musical theater.  In keeping with the Mexican setting of Frida, he has created a unique musical idiom.  The score calls for mariachi-style orchestration (with prominent parts for accordion, guitar, violin and trumpet), in which authentic Mexican folk songs and dances are interwoven with the composer’s own “imaginary folk music,” tangos and colorations of zarzuela, ragtime, vaudeville and 1930’s jazz – all fused with Rodríguez’ characteristic “richly lyrical atonality” (Musical America) in a style “Romantically dramatic” (The Washington Post) and full of “the composer’s all-encompassing sense of humor” (The Los Angeles Times).

Among the “stolen” musical fragments developed in Frida (like Stravinsky, Rodríguez says “I never borrow; I steal.”) are such strange musical bedfellows as two traditional Mexican piñata songs (“Horo y fuego” and “Al quebrar la piñata”), two narrative ballads (“La Maguinita” and “Jesusita”), the Communist anthem (“L’Internationale”), Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, and Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. And “Spanish speakers might also listen for the rhythm of a familiar Mexican curse growling in the trombone as Lupe (Diego’s former wife) insults Frida and Diego at their wedding.

The orchestra continues its ironic commentary throughout the work. Two examples: as Frida and Diego quarrel about their mutual infidelities, the brass offer a snarling version of the tender Act I love music, “Niña de mi corazon” (Child of my heart); and as Frida’s death figures (calaveras) recreate her self-portrait, as the wounded “Little Deer,” in an affecting ballet sequence, Frida is stabbed, both physically (by the arrow) and musically (by piercing orchestral repetitions of Diego’s demand for a divorce, “You don’t need me anymore”).

Deeper musical characterization is achieved through the extensive use of vocal ensembles. Rodríguez says, “You learn much more about people by watching them not alone, but in conflict with others. Frida and Diego have two powerful love scenes, one at the beginning and one at the end, with one fight after another in between. It’s that fascinating and unpredictable through-line of their relationship that drives the action.” The demanding role of Frida requires not only extensive monologues, both spoken and sung, but also duets, trios, quartets, a quintet, sextet and several larger ensembles, working up to an intricate nine-part “layer-cake samba finale.” In a musical metaphor for Frida’s unique persona, her vocal line is scored with its own characteristic rhythms: often in three-quarter time while the orchestra or the rest of the cast is in duple meter. As Rodríguez observes, “Frida sings as she lived – against the tide from the very first note.”

(taken from the Program Note)