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Boston Ballet

'Who Cares?', pas de deux from "Lady of the Camellias,' 'Duo Concertant,' 'Plan to B,' 'Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes'

Memories of the sublime

by S. E. Arnold

August 25 - 29, 2004 -- Jacob's Pillow, Massachusetts

Clipped from context, the pas de deux from Val Caniparoli’s "Lady of the Camellias" reminded one of Wordsworth’s oft-cited affirmations on the source of poetry.

Where one once heard, “Alone, alone, all, all, alone”, spoken by Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner as a poignant summation for the abandoned Marguerite’s consumptive end, one now caught in the reflective tranquility of the music for the pas the over flow of Marguerite and Armand’s powerful emotions. As shapers of time, the unique rhythms of Chopin’s piano concerto and Caniparoli’s choreography worked separately together, like symbiant beings, to capture the narrator’s bittersweet memory. And, Marguerite’s ever increasing lightness manifest, for instance, from the stunning -- for its timing rather than its trickiness -- lift on a silence in the music at the threshold of the pas to the increasing repetitions of the costume enhanced aura shaped by the motion of Marguerite rolling back on back over Armand speaks of the couple’s rapture and of this fading memory’s uncertain capture.

These images, so newly written into memory by Larissa Ponomarenko and Yuri Yanowsky (Saturday afternoon) made one hope that Lorna Feijoo and Nelson Madrigal (Saturday evening) would tease out these and other evocative moments. Memory, alas, for all of its Dickensonian breadth and depth is as perverse as it is persistent for the features sought -- the timing of the second lift at the beginning of the pas, for example -- were not again seen (and one doubts that shadow of the Mariner’s “Nightmare Life-in-Death” scuttled one’s confidence in the memory of the matinee performance). Nevertheless, one holds even as it dissolves in memory’s liquid mixture of expectation and empirical detail the performance of Ponomarenko and Yanowsky dear.

Ponomarenko, that near perfect picture of balletic values who, in a borrowed phrase, always performs at ethereal “levels of amazing-ness” brought her amazing-ness to Jorma Elo’s non-balletic "Plan to B." Set on two female and four male dancers and to music by the Baroque era composer von Biber the choreography’s rapid alteration and succession of cutting, jabbing, whipping, snapping, rippling, or melting motions turns each dancer into a aura of energy. And while the busy articulations of limbs and torso and the seamless flow of soloists and groups of dancers suggest the Baroque penchant for ordered complexity, the appeal of this always audience pleasing piece follows, one thinks, on the ability of its compound parts to overcome their mediums. Von Biber’s music made double and multiple stops a common feature of bowing technique and hence expanded the affective range of string writing; and Elo’s choreography showed that the Newtonian resistance of a human body’s joints and sinews applies only to the macro world of non-dancers and hence contributed to the affective range of choreography and the effective range of the Boston Ballet.

As the quality of musicality often serves as the measure of choreographic effectiveness, so the works of Balanchine and Mark Morris typically exemplify this. Balanchine’s “Who Cares” and “Duo Concertant,” and “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes” by Morris begin, middle, and end the Boston Ballet’s five-work concert at Jacob’s Pillow. Carlos Molina, the company’s newest member, provided the brightest moments of "Who Cares?", while Melanie Atkins and Sabi Varga re-tell "Duo Concertant’s" Pygmalion-ish artist and muse story with, what for this viewer is, unassuming nobility. And the costumed softened limbs, relaxed bodies, and tethering repetitions that bind the work as well as securing one’s attention of "Drink To Me" followed the fierce "Plan to B" and closed the concert and the Pillow’s season with a soothing a-men.

Musical soloists:  "Duo Concertant" with Freda Locker, piano, and Michael Rosenbloom, violin. "Plan to B," and "Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes" with Virgina Eskin, piano.

Edited by Jeff.

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