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Press Coverage

Observatorul Cultural, The Firebird – giving a chance and setting an example


No. 470 - 471, 16 aprilie 2009

On April, 7th, in the Enescu Hall within Hilton, Bucharest, a press conference was organized to present the project of the British choreographer Royston Maldoom, an activity initiated by Mrs. Monique Gruber, who is the wife of the former Germany’s ambassador to Romania (2003-2006). This initiative being developed through the association Jungen Rumänen eine Chance! and has as partner the German choreographer Joseph Eder. All the people involved in this action will proceed by selecting a number of 100 youngsters coming from different social environments, who will take dance classes under the guidance of the two choreographers on the music of Igor Stravinski Firebird and who will bring it to the stage, in front of the audience. The host of the first performance will be George Enescu Festival in 2009.

As we have found out during the press conference, the youngsters to be selected should have ages between 11 and 22 years old and will come from secondary or primary schools, special schools or humanitarian organizations in Bucharest and in other towns around the country. The show has a powerful educational part but also strong social one, being performed by persons with no experience in the art of dance, which makes this a premiere in Romania, given the large scale of the event.

Due to the intense training, under the guidance of the two famous choreographers ( and of their two assistants, two from Romania and one from Germany), developed along several weeks, the mixed group will turn into a real dance artists. At the end of the trainings, these persons will have the chance to perform at a high professional level, as it happened already with other people involved in the same kind of experiences conducted by Royston Maldoom in Berlin, New York or Luxembourg (as part of the events under the umbrella of The European Capital of Culture 2007). The most important aspect is that this event put under the name of George Enescu Festival should not be a singular one but become the starting point for a long term project. This is the philosophy of Royston Maldoom, according to whom young people have a high artistic potential and art, especially dance, is a way to transform the society and also a chance for youngsters.

And, since we talk about Royston Maldoom, let’s say the fact that ha has been the initiator and the leader of many projects developed around the world, Le Sacre Printemps, together with Berlin Philharmonics, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, a show that involved 250 children and which was broadcast all over the world through the movie based on it, Rhythm is it!, winner of the Lola German Prize in 2005. The concept of community dance has been created of Royston Maldoom between 1980 and 1993, while he organized many dance workshops, summer schools and dance festivals, he set up many groups and dance communities.

Starting with 1991, Maldoom has directed dance projects in Lithuania (during the resistence movements), in Croatia and Bosnia (during the war), in South Africa during the presidential elections (when Mandela was involved), in Zimbabwe, Oregon and Georgia (USA) or in United Kingdom. In 2006 The Queen presented Royston Maldoom with the Order of The British Empire (O.B.E.) from the British Government for Services To Dance. In 2007 he received the German-British Forum Award for his engagement for the British-German relations in London and the prize of the Club der Optimisten in Hamburg.

During the press conference in Bucharest we have found out that Maldoom has a passion for working with people of all kinds, like children with problems or those left in the streets, convicts, people in war areas. He enjoys giving all those who work with him the opportunity to discover themselves, to be aware of their passions and their abilities. He is sure art can chance lives and the society and it can ease communication and understanding among people.

Jungen Rumänen eine Chance! association, with Mrs. Monique Gruber as a president, has the courage to set the basis of a new concept in Romania – community dance. This first project, Firebird on the music of Stravinski, will bring together children from rich families, orphans, hearing impaired children or with a physical handicap but also young people with special physical abilities. The purpose is mutual understanding, offering a healthy example to the society. This year there will be at least 3 performances: September 5th, on the stage of the National Theatre in Bucharest, September 7th in Brasov and September 8th in Sibiu.

Partners in this project are the Foundations Concordia, Princess Margarita of Romania, Vodafone, as well as the I.L. Caragiale highschool (where the one month trainings will take place ) and also the School for the Hearing impaired. In the interview offered to the review Cultural Observer by Mrs. Monique Gruber, she said: Although I have always been a sports person, I have never taken dance classes. I understood, later in life, that I have missed the possibility of expressing myself to a greater extent. I have discovered through music that it is important for each person to express himself, especially for children who have all sorts of challenges, like those in the streets or those with a handicap.

Good social relationships can be built on strong foundations, represented by art and institutions. It is important for young persons to be offered such possibilities. I wanted to be a teacher but this was not possible for me, since my husband has been always traveling in different countries and I followed him, that is why I wanted to be involved in the educational process, in forming people, children or those very young, through activities such that of
Jungen Rumänen eine Chance!. In every country where I have lived I tried to develop projects addressed to children or young people (I worked with autistic blind and hearing impaired children,). The purpose is to make them feel more confident, or at least to accept themselves better, to feel good in their skin, as they say. Children are very open, their involvement in projects that use music of quality and professional coordinators makes them determine true values and can also help them choose the cultural path, which will lead them to a much better and a beautiful life.

Among the long term goals of the project, we quote strengthening new qualities and abilities for the young people involved, stimulating local institutions as to developing such activities.

We end our presentation by using Royston Maldoom’s motto: Give me an imperfect body and I’ll make it perfect through dance.


Author: Mihai Plamadeala