Carmina Burana danced by Berlin street kids


Royston Maldoom does not fit the stereotype of the sensitive choreographer. After a problematic adolescence, he decided that he wanted to be a dancer, until he realized that his physique did not predestine him to a brilliant career. He consequently turned his energies and passion to choreography instead.

For more than thirty years he has been performing dance theatre with street kids, but it took the award winning "Rhythm is it!" documentary film for him to achieve wider acceptance as a musical youth worker, and to set what probably is the climax of his life's work. This is the fourth time he has created an education project for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra together with the renowned conductor Sir Simon Rattle. The production of Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana' was not, however, staged at the residence of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as usual, but at the Berlin Treptow Arena that could provide adequate space for the enormous cast of two hundred dancers.

The trade off to this change of venue was the fact that the Arena is not exactly known for its brilliant acoustics, which required the expert hands of sound engineer Holger Schwark and a d&b audiotechnik sound system supplied by Neumann & Müller, to ensure the concerts that were sold out months in advance, would receive the accolade they deserved. Eight J8 and four J12 loudspeakers were installed. However, due to the difficult roof construction of the arena and the demand that all arrays had to be hung out of view of the stage, Q-Series loudspeakers were also deployed as delays.

Maldoom approaches the Middle Ages scenario in "Carmina Burana", Carl Orff having set parts of this collection of medieval Goliard songs to music, in a more illustrative way than usual. As in the 80s, when he adapted the work for street kids in Addis Ababa, his interpretation revolves around a youth rite concerning the circle of life and the search for one's self. With every performer being able to ad lib a little, the result radiates a certain charm of vagueness and authenticity. You can see the pleasure and hope of each performer being projected into this project. After all, this is the result of months of work together, with others that previously had little or no access to classical music or ballet.

"You can change your life in a dance class" is the credo of Royston Maldoom, who demanded everything during the preparatory stages from the youngsters, most of all sweat and discipline. In the Berlin Treptow Arena he succeeded once more to deliver a moving spectacle of joie de vivre and community spirit before the background of a great orchestra.

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