THE SCOTTISH BALLET
April 13, 2017
Dominated by Ashley Page choreography, The Scottish Ballet repertory careens from Balanchine’s “Apollo” and Stephen Petronio’s “MiddleSexGorge” to works by William Forsythe, Richard Alston and Kenneth McMillan. A very fresh – faced company, the Scottish Ballet arrived at the Joyce Theater looking comfortable in the contemporary ballet selections by Christopher Hampson (Artistic Director), Bryan Arias, and Christopher Bruce.
New names to many American dance audiences, Hampson’s “Sinfonietta Giocosa” – originally choreographed on the Atlanta Ballet in 2006—accentuated a dancer’s progression from classroom technique to complex combinations built on the ballet lexicon. A basic black leotard ballet sensualized by the women’s sheer black tights, this served as a primer of the company’s capabilities.
Interestingly, there were references to Balanchine’s “Serenade” when the dancers stood in first position parallel next to those in a turned position, then arms rose, and wrists broke as if blocking a bright sun. Progressively more and more athletic, by the third movement, Bethany Kingsley-Garner and Thomas Edwards amped up the twisty partnering and charged lifts.
For the US premier, “Motion of Displacement” contrasted the dancers in white against a sinister, dark background pierced by white lights, at times glaring, at times pinpointing sections of the stage. Choreographed by Bryan Arias to music by J.S. Bach and “Shaker Loops” by John Adams, the atmosphere suggested a Shakespearean play, where double-doing despots lurked behind heartbroken lovers.
Throughout, an asymmetrical generation of movement combinations threw the whole sensibility off-kilter. Clusters of dancers merged and then stretched out into a stylized image reminiscent of the Parthenon marbles—they struck multiple poses, limbs akimbo with hands connected. “Motion Displacement” succeeds in breaking movement apart into abstract episodes that point to a well-made dance puzzle.
To close the programs, “Ten Poems” by Christopher Bruce turns to the notorious poet, Dylan Thomas for structural inspiration. Over Richard Burton’s (the equally notorious Welshman) magnificently hypnotic voice, dancers dressed in early 20th century clothes by Marian Bruce enunciated the text through their movements. A genial, rustic setting pervaded the vernacular styled ballet vocabulary. Nostalgia seeded the choreography that at times, visualized the words through movement, and on other occasions created arcs around the ideas.
Centuries ago, the Greeks united poetry, music and movement, and closer to the 20th century, Delsarte taught students to express their words through movements. Both these traditions seeped inside the alluring structure.
This US Premiere suited the company’s facility at delineating character studies through dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis