CriticalDance Forum

Diablo Ballet, November 26, 1999
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Author:  Michael [ Mon Nov 29, 1999 5:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Diablo Ballet, November 26, 1999

Diablo Ballet, November 26, 1999<P>This is not a review. Azlan insists that I "post about Diablo" Ballet's most recent performance, but I’m in over my head. I lack Azlan's keen critical eye for detail and extensive knowledge of ballet. Instead, I view dance as metaphor, and try to see how a work expresses an emotional concept. The details and finer points are unfortunately lost on me. My "eye" for detail is such that I didn't even recognize Diablo dancer and Artistic Director Lauren Jonas when she spoke to me after the performance. So much for my powers of observation. I'll pretty much stick to the press release and program notes.<P>Diablo Ballet was accompanied by the Diablo Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Asher Raboy.<P>A work by Alonzo King was originally to have been included among the evening's premieres. However, Mr. King was unable to contribute because of preparations for the upcoming tour of his Lines' Contemporary Ballet. This is unfortunate. It would have been an opportunity to see how Diablo would express Mr. King's challenging choreography of whirling arms, stiff-angled hands, and "stalking-on-pointe and into-the-ground focus" (from Rita Felciano's review of Oakland Ballet in December’s Dance Magazine). <P>The program included four works: Sonata No. 1, End of Time, The Barre, and They’ve Lost Their Feeling. I have written my impressions of two of them.<P><BR>They’ve Lost Their Footing<BR>Choreography: KT Nelson<BR>Music: Hoven Droven<BR>Dancers: Tina Kay Bohnstedt, Christopher Young, Karyn Lee Connell, Erika Johnson, Corinne Jonas, Lauren Jonas, Viktor Kabaniaev, Kyongho Kim, Kelly Teo <P>I think Diablo Ballet would have done justice to Alonzo King's distinctive choreography, judging from their performance of KT Nelson's fun work They've Lost Their Footing. This very unusual piece was danced to the equally unusual music of Swedish rock group Hoven Droven. Not your garden variety rock and roll, the driving instrument of these six folk rock songs sounded to me like the harmonium, a type of reed organ used by another Scandinavian performer with folk roots, pop singer Björk of Iceland. <P>The music and folk costumes combined to project a distinctively northern European identity. For a moment, I thought I was watching a European group, then wondered if Ms. Nelson had injected any modern European vocabulary into the piece. Still, They’ve Lost Their Footing had some of KT Nelson’s familiar moves, such as the walking/running strides seen in performances by ODC/San Francisco, of which KT Nelson is Co-Artistic Director.<P>And if it’s ODC, it must be athletic. The Diablo press release quotes KT Nelson as saying the work, “reflects the feeling that one has lost their grounding, control of their life...They feel upside down, and are trying to find acceptance and allowance for this reality.” The dancers were sometimes carried literally upside down. Often two or three danced in unison while others interacted in seemingly confused, athletic movements, creating a reality in which people seemed out of control, hurriedly going nowhere. It was intriguing as well as humorous. I would like to hear more about KT Nelson’s thoughts on this piece. <P>I have only been watching Diablo Ballet occasionally since July, but after seeing their performance of They’ve Lost Their Footing, I suspect they can dance just about anything successfully.<P><BR>The Barre<BR>Choreography: Nikolai Kabaniaev<BR>Music: Nikolai Kabaniaev<BR>Dancers: Karyn Lee Connell, Lauren Jonas, Kyongho Kim, Kelly Teo<P>Mr. Kabaniaev presents an existential view of the life of dancers. A ballet barre set in the center of a darkened stage represents the center of the dancer’s world. Computer-generated music, lights from odd and direct angles, smoke, and an overall red cast establish this place as a detached, ethereal yet severe reality. First one dancer, and then four, express the hardships and triumphs of a life in which nothing exists but the ceaseless striving for perfection. It was a powerful, but dark, work. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 11-30-1999).]

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Nov 29, 1999 10:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Diablo Ballet, November 26, 1999

Thanks for the wonderful post, Michael. I will add my own comments later.

Author:  Azlan [ Tue Nov 30, 1999 4:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Diablo Ballet, November 26, 1999

Here are my two cents’ (and it's not really a critical review either).<P>“Stylish” is definitely the common theme in all the works in this program.<P>KT Nelson’s “They’ve Lost Their Footing” was definitely the work I found most intriguing. Right after the show, I remember commenting to someone that I felt Nelson plucked at my heart. It is a very modish work, with incredibly stylish gestures like the wrist-flicking brushing motif and highly poignant moments especially in the emotional solo by Christopher Young. To my untrained senses, this piece came alive in successfully projecting a sensation of a loss of balance, underlined by the “collapsing” movements in which dancers full of energy in one instant collapses as if sacks of potatoes in the next, a theme predominant in this piece though not overdone.<P>Stylish choreography was also evident in “The Barre” by Nikolai Kabanaiev, as was the impression of the barre exhibiting a gravitational pull that keeps the dancers within its influence. It’s as if the essentials of humanity, such as self worth, friendship and romance, are all developed within inches of the barre, the more intense the emotion the stronger the pull. The stylishness of the piece is strongest at the end where all the dancers move in and out of syncopated rhythms. One moment they are all in sync and in the next they are diametrically opposite and then they jump back into sync again. With more rehearsals, I can see this being a very cherished piece in this young company’s repertoire.<P>Christopher Stowell though stole the hearts of the ballet lovers among the audience, with his simple yet effervescent “Sonata No. 1.” I am tempted to call this a classical work but I think “romantic” is a better term to use, as the choreography exhibits a passion of life that took my breath away. There are also enough intricate partnering sequences, like the women leaping into the men’s arms, to keep contemporary ballet fans interested. This is a short and very sweet work.<P>After impressing audiences in Berkeley in “The Ecstasy of Rita Joe” earlier this month, Corinne Jonas once again exhibited incredible skill and strength in yet another demanding pdd, this time opposite an equally sizzling Kabanaiev in the west coast premiere of Ben Stevenson’s “The End of Time.” There is no doubt that this is the “ugly” work of the evening -- which speaks volumes for the other works in the program -- but there is equally no doubt of the sex appeal here. In this piece, with its contortions and awkward steps, the dancers have to bend, flex and perform strenuous movements while remaining graceful, a feat wonderfully accomplished by the two dancers who look terrific together.<P>Here are some reviews in the SF Bay Area papers:<P><BR>SF Chronicle <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank> 9/11/29/DD47821.DTL&type=performance</A> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 28, 2002).]

Author:  Albrecht [ Sat Dec 18, 1999 10:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Diablo Ballet, November 26, 1999

Very entertaining. Does this company tour the east coast?

Author:  Azlan [ Sat Dec 18, 1999 11:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Diablo Ballet, November 26, 1999

Albrecht, I don't think so. I think they only tour the west. They are a relatively new company.

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