I attended the October 22 evening performance of Kings of the Dance at Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa, said Kings being, alphabetically, Guillaume Côté, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg, Denis Matvienko, and Ivan Vasiliev.
The performance preview talk was conducted by, non-alphabetically, Messrs. Gomes (throughout) and Côté (in the last half). Of my many years of attending dance performance preview talks, this was certainly one of the best such, the two speakers being relaxed, responsive, and eloquent. (Myself, I have long felt a "connect" with Mr. Gomes' performances; as you might imagine, it was consequently gratifying to find him to be such good company--intelligent, perceptive, precise, playful--as a host/speaker. Marcelo! Let's talk about this ballet I want to do on Ramon Novarro...)
My postings here usually posit that I'm at a loss or a disadvantage concerning a certain performance--hey, no false advertising here. And indeed I'm again at a loss or a disadvantage, as, despite decades of exposure to contemporary dance, I'm never quite sure how to assess anything other than classical ballet, except perhaps on a visceral level, which is all well and good, but which, being of a personal nature by definition, doesn't mean much of anything to anyone else. But, here goes: I was excited! thrilled! and, if not stunned, at least mildly agape at times! If there was anything I wasn't enthusiastic about, it would I suppose be the high proportion of what I call "hand jive" throughout. But I post this here not so much to express these sentiments as to encourage others better able to parse the performance to post their comments.
Our Act I was "Jazzy Five," music by Federico Bigonzetti, choreography by Mauro Bigonzetti, danced by all of our Kings, a sort of overture in which the personality or perhaps I should say affect of each dancer is brought to the fore. Consonant with that, Gomes, in his comments at the preview, drew a similitude between the dancers in this piece and the solo but interacting instruments in a jazz combo. He also related one person's (favorable) impression that at times the piece had an air of what one might see at certain points of a bachelorette party.
Act II consisted of solo pieces for each of the dancers, plus a grand finale with all. As each of the dancers was splendid and focused, each in his own way, and with comparisons thus being pointless, I'll confine myself to listing each piece's data:
"Kaburias," music by Leo Brouwer, choreography by Nacho Duato, was danced by the poetic Mr. Hallberg.
"Tue," music by the mononomic Barbara, choreography by Marco Goecke, was danced with intensity by Mr. Côté.
"Still of King," despite the title not I think about royal moonshine-makin', music by Franz Haydn, choreography by Jorma Elo, was danced with wit and elegance by Mr. Gomes.
"Labyrinth of Solitude," music by Tomaso Antonio Vitali, choreography by Patrick De Bana, was danced by the super-charged Mr. Vasiliev.
"Guilty," music by Frederic Chopin, choreography by Edward Clug, was danced with empathy by the reflective Mr. Matvienko.
Our finale, "KO'd," music by our Mr. Côté, choreography by our Mr. Gomes, onstage piano segment with the composer at the keyboard, was danced with vivacity by all five. The lights, methinks, went dark a second too soon at the end; I suspect that many thus didn't see that in the piece we come full circle.
The audience was, appropriately, enthusiastic.
Attendance was poor, alas, with many a vacant block of seats on all levels. Those present were fortunate to have had a memorable evening. Those not present, ah--the loss is theirs!
Kings of the Dance at Costa Mesa
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