Sunday, March 25, 2012

Joffrey Ballet Review – by Laurie Collett

The Joffrey Ballet performance was to me a tribute of how we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. Each dancer displays not only a glorious purity of form, breaking forth in celebration of being, but expressing emotions mere words cannot begin to convey.

“Night” was a fanciful exploration of how and what we dream, particularly of the contrasts between flying and falling. We live, and dream, for those moments we can soar to new heights, exhilarated not only by our altitude but by the fear that at any moment we could crash to the ground. Anastacia Holden was exquisite as the dreamer, conveying the sheer joy and wonder of being lifted and carried away by the bedclothes (why can’t I have bedclothes like that?), then the brooding over falling into temptation and the terror of being chased and physically falling.

“In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated” paid homage not only to the form and conventions of classical ballet, but to modern dance’s departure from these restrictions. The electronic score, atonal yet passionate in its contrasts between thunderclaps and silence, created a drama and tension providing an ideal showcase for the amazing technical virtuosity of the dancers.

The simple costuming of form-fitting leotards and sheer black stockings highlighted their perfectly sculpted musculature, as if the pencil sketches in Eric Franklin’s books on dance imagery and kinesiology were suddenly infused with breath and blood and leapt from the pages. If Adam Shankman, a regular judge on So You Think You Can Dance, were critiquing, I can imagine him calling the ladies’ extensions “Sick!”

By far my favorite was “Age of Innocence,” reflecting the repressed sensuality, romantic ideals, and struggle for self-expression of Victorian novels such as Jane Austen. Not only was the lift work done with such finesse that there was no difference between dancing on the ground or in the air, but the choreography and dancing evoked such a sense of yearning and sheer beauty that I could not bear for it to end. The duets by Jeraldine Mendoza and Mauro Villanueva, and April Daly and Dylan Gutierrez, were true poetry that only adagio can express.

For the dance aficionado and for any lover of beauty in motion, The Joffrey Ballet is a rare treat and not to be missed.

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