Bolshoi's Salome, with movement direction by Sommer Ulrickson (detail) View full image

Sommer Ulrickson directs movement for Salome in Moscow

In a rare example of live opera taking place with an audience at the moment, a new production of Salome opened at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre on 25 February for six performances, directed by Claus Guth with movement direction by Sommer Ulrickson, a co-production with New York's Metropolitan Opera.

Ulrickson described the experience: 'It's hard to sum up in words what it meant to me – not only my first time in Moscow but also being able to work in the middle of a pandemic when most European venues are closed. It was a strange gift. Not that I needed reminding of why the arts are so important, but experiencing voices, orchestra and movement live and in the flesh can't be replaced by digital streaming.

'I felt extremely lucky to be working with such amazing artists. During my work on the dance of the seven veils, I spent time with young girls aged between 6 and 21. It was lovely to try to find ways to connect with them, without speaking their language (I had a translator) and not being as close to them physically as I normally would be – it is very difficult (and depressing) to work on dance and movement without physical contact.

'I also enjoyed many special conversations in which there was an honest exchange about art, culture and politics, all while making an opera that opened to a fairly full house – it was almost surreal after the many months in lockdown.

'Returning to Germany has been difficult. Being able to work doesn't just mean being able to work, earn money and put things in front of audiences – it also means getting to share and communicate and challenge perceptions. We all need that – artists and audiences alike.'

Photos: Damir Yusupov