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PA Ballet: Variety Pack

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Photo: Alexander Iziliev

Pa. Ballet Variety Pack
Four Works (Balanchine, Forsythe, Ochoa, Robbins)
May 5-9, 2010
Merriam Theater

Little girls in pretty dresses put you in a good mood before a Pennsylvania Ballet program begins. The ballet, which opened Wednesday night, offers a variety pack of old and new that was danced extremely well. Two company premieres are standouts: Jerome Robbins’ take on Njinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun, was danced to superbly by Tyler Galster taking the part of a young dancer’s awakening in the studio. Not a motion overdone, not a muscle wasted. Julie Diana was the human nymph. Their sensitivity was set against a bold, high-contrast staging.

William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, references classical pointe work with high contrast too. The company is coming and going at odd angles, using the space akilter. Hips, knees, elbows come at you, like mechanical gears. The sense is not mechanical but like a mad tango set to Thom Willems and Leslie Stucks percussive brilliant score. Born for this dance are principals Riolama Lorenzo and Arantxa Ochoa, with limbs as flexible as herons’. They alternated in sultry duets supported by Zachary Hench. Hench who had a featured role in the Balanchine’s unfolksy Square Dance (which the company also danced beautifully; Brava, Amy Aldridge) was less successful here. His solo work had a softness in contrast to the others’. In the Middle Somewhat Elevated is a blistering dance. The last vignette is magic.

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Requiem for A Rose is heavy on the symbolism. A soloist in white bodysuit grips a rose in her teeth, to electronic thumping, leads the corps (men and women) wearing in red skirts. Chaotic, lifts and sculptural poses. When duos and solos arrive things lighten up but not much. The ominous figure arrives more than once accompanied by a throbbing beat. The main music helps but also hinders it is so loaded with profundity: Schubert: Adagio from the C minor Quintet.
A silver scrim falls down to make a scarlet path. Enough already. The dancing outshines the dance and staging. Pennsylvania Ballet’s variety program runs May 9, then Romeo &; Juliet!

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