THE JOFFREY BALLET GALA
April 2, 2017
What a joy to witness in awe the return of the Joffrey Ballet to Lincoln Center dancing impeccable with a magical aura after twenty years of longing. The Joyce Theater Foundation Gala Performance took place at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theatre featuring three contemporary works: Bells, Body of Your Dreams, and Fool’s Paradise.
Choreographed by in Yuri Possokhov, and premiered in 2011, Bells shined glimpses of his Russian culture and traditional dances. Inspiring delicacy, character, warmth, and decor in the movement discourse augmented Sergei Rachmaninov’s music interpreted by pianists Grace Kim and Kuang Hao Huang. Finger snaps with prideful carriage of the arms, flexed heel accents, gentle approach in gestures and support, and the three Russian customary greeting kisses were integrated into the breezy interplay of abstract contemporary neoclassical ballet.
Sandra Woodall’s unique design mutated through the variations departing from a coral red tonality base of tights and bare chest for the males and classic cut leotards for the ballerinas by draping over white transparent fabric bringing out traditional Russian-line dresses, shawls, neoclassical skirts or loose shirts. Throughout Bells’ eight themes, liquid shapes evolved through pas de deux and group formations, where impeccable de´velope´s were sprinkled in space against the vast tinted cyclorama. Poetic images dashed as the ensemble was blown from the wings fading back in a timeless vacuum like cherry blossoms drifting in an air curl. Distinctly, the audience gasped delighted as a male dancer quartet tossed a fellow dancer in a feather-like suspension over their line formation.
The centerpiece of the program was the Joffrey’s premiere of Body of Your Dreams,, a comically witty ballet by American choreographer Myles Thatcher which had its world premiere last December in Mexico City. Resembling a contemporary version of Nijinska’s , this short ballet presents an exercise video parody. Highlighted by the lyrics in Jacob Ter Veldhuis’s music, the cast diverted from athletic abstract dance to theatric mimicry gesturing thumbs up, slow motion step climbing, or jogging obtaining compliant laughs and giggles from the Gala’s patrons.
With an architectural set by Penny Jacobus recalling Ben Johnson’s aesthetic of light, transparency, and dimension, the structural rectangular four-panel background rotated alternating its grayish canvas surface radiating light changes to show a glossy mirror interior. Through it, dancers exchanged entrances wearing white unitards with neon gamut patches designed by Susan Roemer, resonating Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondarian designs.
Closing the evening, Christopher Wheeldon’s Fool’s Paradise (2007) enraptured the theater with magical quiet beauty in an enigmatic plotless story. Appeasing the house in breathtaking silence, a cloud of mist descended upon the deep dark scene as two male dancers entered parsimoniously through an opening in the horizon black backdrop while a shower of golden leaves hovered over them. Escalating fantastical dimensions were conveyed by Joby Talbot’s tantalizing pulse and coloristic treatment of The Dying Swan, interpreted by violinist Florentina Ramniceanu, cellist Judy Stone, and Grace Rose Kim at the piano. Platinum white glossy straps delimiting the dancer’s basic white leotards designed by Narciso Rodriguez left traces of their movement strokes in space, while a shower of golden leaves bathed the background creating a mystical effect of fire sparks dancing in the dark. Layers of configurations of pas de deux dipping on the stage surface and jete´ flicks suspended in midair culminated in an escalating multilayered architectural composition center stage into the scene’s vanishing point, leaving the audience in a breath recovering closing applause.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- GABRIELA ESTRADA