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Pennsylvania Ballet: 2021 Spring Digital Season

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Pennsylvania Ballet just announced their 2021 Spring Digital Season: three programs for $50. They've been rehearsing in pods. Very nice rep:

Purchase the whole season for just $50 ➡️➡️➡️
Start with March for just $25 ➡️➡️➡️

MARCH (2 casts)
🔹"Concerto Barocco" - George Balanchine
🔹"Clear" - Stanton Welch AM
🔹"Suspended in Time" - Angel Corella, Russell Ducker, and Kirill Radev
🔹"Penumbra" (excerpt) - Matthew Neenan

🔸"Allegro Brillante" - George Balanchine
🔸"Polyphonia" - Christopher Wheeldon
🔸"Raymonda Suite" - Marius Petipa
🔸"And So It Is..." (excerpt) - Dwight Rhoden

♦️New Work by Juliano Nunes
♦️New Work by Meredith Rainey
♦️New Work by Russell Ducker


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I just finished watching the first program, both casts. I'm very pleased that they figured out how to do this without masks, apparently with different rehearsal pods. A welcome detail: during the bows (and applause) they had the names of each dancer overhead on the screen. They seem to be in a special location with good lighting and an audience.

I had seen Clear with ABT in their fall season a few years ago. Okay for a mixed bill. Suspended in Time, to "classic" Electric LIght Orchestra pop music, seemed an effort to connect to younger audiences. Jeans and t-shirts for the men, colorful dresses for the women. Not all that memorable.

The real treat for me is Concerto Barocco, with two casts.  This ballet is a paradigmatic example of "See the Music" and it never gets old for me - the genius of Bach-Balanchine is truly intense. I really like repeated viewings that let me notice details I hadn't seen before in that relationship. The camera work was mixed. I appreciated seeing some odd angles and slight overheads -- I saw formations I wouldn't have noticed in the theater. But too often it focused on the upper bodies of the two lead women, cutting off legs and feet.

The overall "interpretation" was perhaps a tad too flowery/romantic, without the "oomph" possible for some moves, but otherwise fine. I have been eager to see Yuka Iseda again, since seeing her sole performance with this company as Odette/Odile a few years ago. She was stunning in that - and a corps member at the time. Her smile in CB, though, as the first lead, was a little too emotionally "happy" -- they all need to show a joy at dancing, but nothing beyond that, if this makes any sense. 

Kudos to Pennsylvania Ballet for giving opportunities to so many dancers, nice production values, well-priced. This program continues through March 31. If you buy the entire series of three programs, you can see both casts. 

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I'm so impressed with the PA Ballet series. They figured out how to do this with new performances, no masks, appropriate scenery and lighting. Very impressive (although I'm sure different cities imposed different limitations on the other companies we're seeing).

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I tip my hat again to PA Ballet for their Resilience digital program! "And So It Is" wasn't my cup of tea, but it was nice to see Jermel Johnson. So Jung Shin stole the spotlight in "Polyphonia." "Raymonda Suite" looked beautiful -- set, costumes, lighting. I found Dayesi Torriente mesmerizing in the clapping variation (my least favorite of Raymonda's solos).  "Allegro Brillante" was the best of the mixed bill. The dynamic between Mayara Piniero (vibrant) and Zecheng Liang (cool) made for a fantastic partnership.


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