A music theater piece by Petra Strahovnik

Based on the book ‘Ballerina, Ballerina’ by Slovenian writer Marko Sosič

 Concept and composition: Petra Strahovnik

Stage Director: Rocc

Music Director: Ezequiel Menalled

Co-producer: Katja Konvalinka from Slovenian Chamber Music Theater

Premiere: October 2020 Linhart Hall, Cankar Ljubljana, Slovenia

Reprise: Dag in de Branding & Korzo Theater, December 2020

Banner photo: Joris Jan Bos



The heroine in Marko Sosič’s novel ‘Ballerina, Ballerina’, is a little girl with a limited horizon, pushed into a passive position by her mental condition: her autism spectrum disorder. She lives on the border between sky and earth, and the vital earthly categories of life, suffering, passing of time, and death, lose sharpness for her and the reader. The events in the novel are tragic for the little girl Ballerina, because while her mother is dying, Ballerina thinks her mother is only asleep.


In Petra Strahovnik’s music theater piece, there is no narrative in the traditional sense, since everything is told from the perspective of the autistic girl. The story line is shaped in the same manner as her perception of time and her awareness of what happens around her are. There are characters and objects on stage, but they are – or can be, brought to life intermittently by the various performers: the singers, the dancer, the musicians, or even the conductor. Balerina’s mother becomes a vase while another performer becomes her persona or her deep frustration. This is answered by gestures or sounds of overwhelming sadness, expressed by another performer. Actions happen, reactions interweave, emotions pour, and the normally closed inner world of the heroine is brought to life so that the audience can plunge into it and deeply connect with her.


The flexibility in the use of materials and representations of dramatic elements in this production is possible thanks to the unusual simultaneous use and combination of music and performance art. The piece is conceived for two sopranos, a performance artist, a dancer, and ten Ensemble Modelo62 musicians on stage. The musicians have undergone an intensive training in performance art by artist Jürgen Fritz.


Extended artistic collaboration.

This music theater piece is the culmination of disOrders, a two-year collaboration project between Ensemble Modelo62 and Slovenian/Dutch composer Petra Strahovnik. During this period they have created new works combining performance art, video, and electronics, to raise questions on the place and importance of mental health in our society. An overview of these works includes:

  1. Five installations for solo performers, performed simultaneously in five galleries in The Hague. Each installation is based on a different mental condition: Depression, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  2. Three works for soloist plus ensemble. To be presented in Korzo Theater, The Hague, and during Gaudeamus Muziekweek. The works are based on three different mental conditions: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Schizophrenia.


BallerinaBallerina is made possible thanks to the financial support of Fonds Podiumkunsten, Stichting Dioraphte and Gemeente Den Haag.