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Evenings of Dance in Port Chester, January 21, 2017

Evenings of Dance in Port Chester, January 21, 2017

Freeform Review:

Evenings of Dance in Port Chester, January 21, 2017

The two full-length pieces performed Saturday night in the season opener of Evenings of Dance by Ballet des Amériques offered an intriguing contrast.

The first, “Boléro”, newly choreographed by director Carole Alexis, a work in progress only a few weeks old, was performed for the first time this night. 

It is raw, but raw in a good way. Full of passion, driven by the forward motion of the Ravel score, there is a hypnotic aspect that starts with the dancers and reaches into the audience.  As the familiar motif registers, gathers force, twists and turns through the modulations, picks up instrumental heft and rises to its powerful conclusion, the bright red-clad dancers look as if they are haunted.

Like the first statement of the melody, simple and straightforward, the ballet begins with one dancer awakening alone and dancing solo through the first statement of the theme. Then, as the music swells so do the numbers of dancers until the entire company fills the room.

Their movements are inevitable and yet unpredictable. They give themselves up as if the sinuous melody and the repeating rhythmic crescendo drive them.

As conceived, no doubt, this ballet is bigger than the confines of the “white box” studio theater, and as it is worked and reworked, its details will become more defined.

Watching this happen over the coming Evenings of Dance promises to be a unique collaboration between audience, company and choreographer.

As if to prove this point, the second full-length piece, “Lentil Soup” has been presented several times in the past year and in each performance it has grown and become more vivid. 

The great choreographer, George Balanchine, was ruthless in reworking his ballets and refused to consider any of them finished let alone sacred. To him it only made sense to adjust the work to the strengths and weaknesses of the different dancers each time a ballet was revived. 

In the case of “Lentil Soup” we have seen the choreographer creating a dance over time, beginning with an idea or two or, perhaps, a complete vision that must be divided into parts in order to carry it through to completion. 

The experimenting that Carole Alexis has done, the imagining, the dancing in studio and in her head, the instructing, working with the company, putting the pieces together to a multi-dimensional jigsaw puzzle in time and space when only she knows how the solution must look, we are not privy to all of this. 

What we get each time we see a performance of a work in progress are glimpses, maybe, the outline of a story, and then some of the details are filled in, until over time her vision is realized.

It has been fascinating for those of us who have seen previous versions of “Lentil Soup” presented by Ballet des Amériques. 

It is like watching the restoration of a painting.

Details emerge, colors brighten, the veil of time is lifted and the work of art is suddenly there in all its glorious beauty.

Saturday night this happened as I watched “Lentil Soup”.

I felt like I was seeing the whole dance with new eyes; that the dancers were no longer thinking, no longer counting, just dancing; that the nuances, the pauses, the lifts, the jumps, the interactions, the gestures, the expressions were breathing with life at this time in this studio on this Saturday night.

At the end, the stirring of the soup was pure joy and great art.

Was this the final version?

Unlikely.

Lucky us, we shall see.

Frank De Ligio, January 21, 2017

 

The Dance Enthusiast

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