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"The Company: Favorites"Spring program in Chicago


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#1 Treefrog

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 08:08 PM

It’s been over a week now since we saw this performance, so my review will be a bit fuzzy. But I didn’t want to let time get away from me entirely without mentioning it.

The program was originally to be called "Founder’s Favorites" or something like that. It was changed to "The Company: Favorites" sometime after the release this winter of the film "The Company", which featured the Joffrey. It’s not clear to me if the program refers to the film, or the company itself. At any rate, only three of the six pieces appeared in the film. I thought it either pretentious or perspicacious to include a world premiere (RUTH: Ricordi per Due) on a program designated as favorites. Who’s to say so quickly?

First up was Tensile Involvement – the piece with the giant rubber bands that opens the movie. I couldn’t help feeling that it was terrific as performance, not so interesting as dance. The shapes and movements of the bands are captivating, but the dancer’s movements get lost against that vibrating, busy background. Especially from farther back, where the shapes are large and the bodies tiny.

The second piece from the movie was White Widow – the trapeze dance. Here, as in the movie, it was danced by Emily Patterson. And it was even more beautiful. Those of you who have been reading my posts for a while know that I struggle with analyzing what I see, wanting always to know why I liked it or what the choreographer was trying to convey. I’m happy and proud to announce that I left all that behind for a few delightful minutes. I simply found this dance entrancing, and I was nearly moved to tears. Why? Who knows? Who cares?

Last in the evening, and third from the movie, was Creative Force. This is the dance in red that incorporates Latin dance, but there is so much more to it than the snippet shown in the movie. I loved it. I’m a sucker for symmetry and repetition, which abound in this piece. Over and over, lines of dancers follow one another down the diagonals or across the stage, repeating the same movements over and over. (Think of it as a very, very high energy Kingdom of the Shades.) Among these dancers is one giant – Fabrice Calmels, who is just huge, but so, so graceful and gorgeous. The contrast with the other dancers, particularly some of the tinier women, is so startling – and yet, ultimately, very pleasing. The music is very pulsating, very rhythmic, and again I found myself just getting lost in the combination of the music and the movement, feeling the tension build.

The premiere, RUTH, shared an act with White Widow. What a totally appropriate thematic pairing! Both capture the longing for a lost love, and both incorporate the purity and angelic symbolism of flowing white gowns. RUTH opens on a man (Willy Shives) who is pining for his dead lover/wife (Maia Wilkins). She appears out of the mists, and they dance a passionate, sweet pas de deux. No one in the company could do this as well as Shives – tender, devoted -- and Wilkins – nuanced, delicate. Alas, she remains but a dream and ultimately bourrées back into the misty darkness. A powerful, lovely dance, choreographed by Gerald Arpino, that just might well become an enduring favorite.

Rounding out the program were Valentine and Pas des Déesses. Valentine was not the Lubovitch piece that forms a focus of the film (that was My Funny Valentine), but a playful boxing match and romp between two ambivalent lovers (Calmels and Julianne Kepley – the dancer who replaces Suzanne Lopez when her tendon snaps in the film). Somewhat oddly – but not ineffectively -- the accompanying solo contrabassist ends up on the floor in the same compromising position with his instrument that the two dancers assume together. I felt bad about not liking Pas des Déesses more. It was the only classical piece on the program, with pointe shoes and tutus and purely classical moves – real ballet, you know? Yet, it didn’t work for me. Perhaps it was the slowness of it, with dancers floating in and out in between the real action. It was inspired by a Romantic lithograph of four great 19th century dancers: Lucile Grahn (Maia Wilkins), Fanny Cerrito (Jennifer Goodman), Marie Taglioni (Suzanne Lopez), and Arthur St. Leon (Michael Levine). I enjoyed the playful, energetic Goodman/Cerrito the most.

Edited by Treefrog, 27 May 2004 - 06:14 AM.


#2 Treefrog

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Posted 27 May 2004 - 06:17 AM

My apologies to all who tried to read the mess I posted late last night. Too many attempts to cut and paste, no attempts to read the final copy. It now reads more coherently, I hope.


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