Washington Ballet - 7 x 7: Unplugged
More heaven than hell on earth
by Carol Herron
May 8, 2005 -- Washington Ballet England Studio Theater, Washington, D.C.
The program was seven dances, choreographed by seven very different choreographers, each piece being seven minutes long. The theater was the transformed rehearsal studio, which provides an intimate setting where we were up close to sweat, muscles, and skin, and we could hear the heavy breathing of the hard working dancers. The performance that runs through May 15th has several different casts.
The Washington Ballet and eight art students from the Corcoran College of Art + Design collaborated to create the settings in the public areas using Artistic Director Septime Webre's assignment: "Heaven and Hell." The lobby was an evocation of Hell with strange white hands reaching through the walls, unrealized bodies and forms pressing against tight white membranes and disturbing quotes in small black print from Sartre and Nietzsche. The Theater was Heaven, white drapes and walls with what looked like bags of small and large marshmallows attached, white seating and sparkling white branches hanging from the ceiling.
Dance 1: "Ikon of Eros"
The musical tempo varied between being slow and sensuous to fast, almost Indian-like. The choreography was interesting but felt a little disjointed. The choreography for the two tempos was neither cohesively joined nor dramatically in contrast, making the whole somewhat blurry. The two dancers were superb; it was nice to see Chip Coleman featured as a soloist since I have most often seen him as a supporting dancer. His solos were good and his partnering was first-rate. During the faster sections Laura Urgelles really shone; she had a sinuous way of moving that appeared exotic and enticing.
Dance 2: "These are the Days of our Lives"
A fascinating, seductive piece that began with Jared Nelson and Michele Jimenez dressed as if they were ready to go work at a Washington law firm. Nelson set out as manikins the remaining dancers, dressed only in their dance belts, while Jimenez started each of them moving just one part of their body. When all the men were moving Jimenez handed Nelson a briefcase and they left the stage.
The manikins then began to dance. Jimenez and Nelson returned and found themselves caught up in the dance, allowing themselves be seduced by the movement and the music. As always when Michele Jimenez is on the stage, she is captivating. In addition to being beautiful, she has a style and charisma that makes her impossible to ignore. And yet there was a lot else to see. Marcelo Martinez is a promising young dancer whose warm-up before the performance began wowed those of us who were early to our seats. Aaron Jackson has developed a level of confidence that enhances this dramatic-looking performance.
Dance 3: "Fractures"
A bittersweet love triangle danced to the sad music by Arvo Part. The choreography suggested jealously, loss, and remorse. The costumes were simple but beautiful and colorful. Sona Kharatian danced with a melancholic movement that contrasted beautifully with Morgann Rose’s similar steps, but with a seductive accent. As the man torn between the loves of the two women, Chip Coleman again danced with conviction.
Dance 4: "And they had hair as the hair of women and their teeth were as the teeth of lions"
This was the only piece that really depicted the Hell theme. A dark, blood-red vision of Hell. Beings in black swirling robes with long, dark, tangled hair and no faces. Roiling, violent movements. Lots of gasping from the audience as bodies flew through the air, to land in heaps.
Dance 5: "Footnote"
This premiere was a showcase for members of the Studio Company, and is part of The Washington Ballet Studio Company Commissioning Project. Each of the four dancers showed promise in their technique but were not very well synchronized. The choreography, which featured more pure ballet than the other pieces, was sweet but rather mild.
Dance 6: "Few and Far Between"
The dancers were dressed only in white shirts and skin colored underwear. Energetic and lively but overall forgettable choreography.
Dance 7: "Ritual IV"
This was the highlight of the performance. It had a high-energy, driving beat with correspondingly high-energy dancing. I hope this piece becomes part of the company’s repertoire -- it is such a crowd-pleaser and showcases virtuoso performances. Jason Hartley and Jonathan Jordan performed a macho showdown that alone would have made the piece a stand-out. But there was much more, and Michele Jimenez was absolutely marvelous. Her pirouettes just a few inches from the audience were mind-blowing.
Edited by Staff.
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