Mike Gunther

Washington Ballet 7x7: Love Duets

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The Washington Ballet is giving D.C. a February Valentine this week at the studio, seven short works by seven different choreographers on the subject of Love. To me, it's always great to see this fine company up close. For one thing, they all have such outstanding personalities that really come across in this intimate format. I look forward to "7x7" every year and have not ever been disappointed. So yes, I felt the love, although the Washington Post didn't. The Post reviewer, Sarah Kaufman, liked the dancers but complained that the format was too intimate (!) and that most of the pieces were too superficial. Not that you can get real profound in seven minutes, but I'm ok with that; sometimes I just like to kick back and help myself to the chocolates. What do the rest of you think?

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Mike, I couldn't say it better myself. It is lovely to see first class dancers close-up. It feels they are performing just for me.

As an audience member for the first time for 7 X 7 I felt that I was a lucky insider invited to see something special.

I didn't see any empty seats either.

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I agree that it's a privilege and luxury to get to watch dancers peforming from up close. I had the impression, however, that Kaufman's criticism was directed at the restrictions of preparation-time, length of each piece, and budget even more than the small space.

There's little room to grow anything substantial here: In what has become an annual project, seven choreographers were asked to each contribute a work roughly seven minutes long, which the company performs in its informal, all-white shoe box as a tribute to minimalism (no decor, low-tech costuming), quickie creativity (most of the works were produced and rehearsed in two weeks) and no-frills frugality. With tickets at $60, however, the stripped-down aesthetic comes at a premium.

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And I took Kaufman's criticism to be the hefty price tag - $60 per ticket - for that "no-frills frugality." That does seem steep to me for a studio performance.

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And I took Kaufman's criticism to be the hefty price tag - $60 per ticket - for that "no-frills frugality." That does seem steep to me for a studio performance.

They announced a price cut to $30 for the remaining tickets this week (ends 3/9). I agree that $60 is a bit much, but $30 sounds like quite a bargain! I may go again at the reduced price, especially since the casting swaps around from time to time.

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And I took Kaufman's criticism to be the hefty price tag - $60 per ticket - for that "no-frills frugality." That does seem steep to me for a studio performance.

They announced a price cut to $30 for the remaining tickets this week (ends 3/9). I agree that $60 is a bit much, but $30 sounds like quite a bargain! I may go again at the reduced price, especially since the casting swaps around from time to time.

$30 for a studio performance is still hefty. Perhaps this is an event that has outgrown its original function (to recruit sponsors or board members)? They're certainly entitled to charge what the market will bear, but if it's open to critics, then they have to take their lumps, too. You don't have to read John Berger to know that higher prices raise expectations.

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$30 for a studio performance is still hefty. Perhaps this is an event that has outgrown its original function (to recruit sponsors or board members)?

Ray, thanks for your question! WB has offered 7x7 on subscription for several years now. It's never been a donor event. The goal is to present shorter pieces by a variety of choreographers in an intimate venue (which in this case turned out to be the main studio, which can be decorated, lit, and filled with up to 100 seats on temporary risers.) Week 1 basically sold out at full price to season subscribers. I think they cut the price later just for the practical reason of filling more seats towards the end of the run.

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My husband and I were delighted to take advantage of the special price and attended the 6:30 pm performance of 7 x 7: Love Duets this past Friday, March 7 (another seven!). We even got to sit in the front row and were mesmerized by the beauty and sensitivity of the performances. The opportunity to see excellent dancers up-close-and-personal, in original choreography, was more than worth the price of admission.

The highlights for us were the purely-romantic (soft) pieces,

Desire by Stephen Mills, danced eloquently by Brianne Bland and Runqiao Du in flesh-colored outfits that made us in the audience perhaps feel initially like a bunch of 'Peeping Toms'? Nah - it was beautiful and that is that.

Out of Time by Edwaard Liang (so creative!!!!), with perhaps the strongest dancing of the night by Jade Payette and Tamas Krizsa...he is an wonderful, extra-tall stylist who is definitely going places! :)

2 Long 2 Love - a very touching, romantic piece in a modern, Isadora-ish vein by Nejla Y. Yatkin, superbly interpreted by Sona kharatian, Morgann Rose and, again, Mr. Du. This dance contains a scenic delight that I won't divulge 'cause it was a huge surprise for audience members returning to their seats after the intermission.

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