Concept and choreography: Tatiana Baganova
Music: Die anarchistische Abendunterhaltung (Netherlands); Project Moscow Art Trio: M. Alperin, S. Starostin, A. Shilkloper
Costume design: Olga Pautova and Victoria Mozgovaya
Lighting design: Maxim Sergachev
Running time: 30 minutes
The piece was commissioned in the summer of 1999 in Durham (North Carolina, USA) by the American Dance Festival as a part of the International Choreographers’ Program, with support from the Philip Morris Companies Inc., Rockefeller Foundation and Trust for Mutual Understanding
Russian premiere: October 1999 - Ekaterinburg
The production was awarded the Golden Mask (2001) for Best Piece in Contemporary Dance. It was nominated for The Best Work by a choreographer, and Best Set and Costume design
Maple Garden toured the United States, Thailand, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus, as well as 16 cities in Russia.
The first performance that I created within the program was Maple Garden. For [the performance] I was looking for girls with long hair: the idea was to hang them by their hair on trees. During my first days at the American Dance Festival I was staring at everyone with long hair. The most beautiful and gorgeous hair that caught my eye belonged to David Ferri, the technical director of the festival. This way we got to know each other. David is one of the iconic figures for the American Dance Festival. Coming back to the Festival from time to time, I’m happy to see him as the head of technical staff. I’m grateful to him for the cooperation, his professionalism and bright individual personality.
The piece by Tatiana Baganova commissioned by the American Dance Festival in Durham (USA), is American. Pulled from mouth to mouth, it binds male and female dancer. Suddenly, a third figure appears and cuts up the gum with a huge pair of scissors. Chewing gum as a symbol for radical separations in this “never-never land”, a wondrous kingdom. A witch sits in a tree and swings on a long rope over the stage. The women wear crinolines, a young man a vest, studded with thorns. Everything dances a bit slowed down, like in a fairy tale or a dream. In “Maple Garden”, Baganova is less expressive than in another piece well-known at the festival – Her “Les Noces” (a post-modern variation on a theme by Nijinska).
Ballet International Tanz Aktuelle
Maple Garden, from 1999, possesses the folksy whimsy of Chagall and the comic illusionism of Pilobolus-esque dancer-athletes. The curtain opens on a woman in mid-flight (thanks to a wire) above a bare tree. A man arrives with a huge butterfly net to catch another, birdlike woman. And so on and so forth. Because there is no narrative, we gravitate to the piece’s theme. The strings that the dancers unspool from each other’s mouths and the lustrous hair by which the women hang from the tree suggest attachment, with its tenuousness and allure. But Maple Garden builds no nest of concrete meaning from these charming strands.
Maple Garden hits a viewer like a cross between a Brothers Grimm fairy tale and Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, illustrated by Salvador Dali, and with a gaggle of zombies thrown in. It’s beautiful at times, grotesque at times and concurrently funny and horrifying.
Forget about what it means, if anything. The dance is more than a series of images, but the images linger in the mind even if you don’t know exactly why they’re there.
The theatre from Russia presented a soft dreamy tale. The stylish grotesque pictures that, with the use of elements of folklore and a broken dance vocabulary, have built a surreal world on stage, perhaps the world of the subconscious.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
A mysterious performance, where women are hung to the dry tree by their long mermaid hair, where village dwellers fondle each other with simple sensuality of animals, is in fact counted like in a perfect game of chess. Choreography here is just a part of the complicated score in which the music, lighting design, and wildness of the marionette dance are all mixed together. Tatiana Baganova is the only one who stages performances without following fashionable trends, and who doesn’t care to correspond to the popular ideas about «the present». And therefore her works remain actual even after the premiere.
The choreographer is fond of paradoxicality, and cipher names. There is one withered tree on the stage instead of the garden; instead of people there are strange creatures with painted faces and dolls’ plasticity. [...] Birds’ cries and spiritual folk-tunes of a mysterious country, a bit terrifying dances, strange sensuality and causeless laughter – the infernal Baganova’s autumn fairytale captivates and fascinates.
The Bolshoi Theatre magazine
The curtain was just about to raise, the public burst into a storm of applause, appreciating the artist’s work. The enthusiastic welcome given to the Provincial Dances Theatre by the Düsseldorf festival public confirms one more time that this company has a right to represent Russia.