Spring Dance at the Coliseum – City Ballet’s “Four Voices: Wheeldon, Martins, Bigonzetti, Ratmansky” Program – London Coliseum

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Last night’s performance of City Ballet was a great chance to sample the work of several newer choreographers. The first piece was by Christopher Wheeldon, formerly in residence at City Ballet and now working with his own company and the Ballet Boyz to keep ballet relevant for modern audiences. His “Carousel” was a homage to the great musical of the same name, but, when stripped down to a few themes and clumsily illustrated with dancers carrying poles and moving in circles, it just seemed … watery. The girl was lonely, the man was arrogant, there were overtones of can-can girls and seediness in some of the group scenes … but it was hard to care. It made me briefly think that a danced “Lear” would be nice, then I remembered his “Elsinore” and I thought, nah, Wheeldon just doesn’t seem to get emotional connection and the kind of stuff that makes you invest in a story. Oh well. Maybe Matthew Bourne will give it a try.

Next up was a little frippery of a Russian piece, Peter Martin’s “Zakousi,” a duet complete with big boots and sparkly “Ballet Imperiale” glitz (for the woman). But that was the end of the glittery and wow. Instead of stylish pyrotechnics on stage and the showy, over the top style I’ve come to love from the Bolshoi, this was watered down and whingy. It was like some horrible fusion cuisine that eliminated all of the spices “to better suit the locale palate.” Fortunately it was short.

The highlight of the evening was next; a piece by Mauro Bigonzetti, an Italian choreographer who counts Balanchine and Forsythe among his influences. “In Vento,” it was called, which while it might mean “in the wind” (I think), to me also seemed appropriately misheard as “inventive”. I could see it, too, in the harsh poses of the women (with arms over their heads, like birds of prey, and their costumes, very Forsythe) and the very complex and yet smooth twining of a pas de quatre a la Balanchine. But his four were men, and he had them rolling onto each others’ arms, then being picked up and carried backwards with the combined strength of their numbers; and both sexes posed, angular and angrily, in a way I somehow found very Italian. It was a great showcase for the athletic skills of the troupe, and even found time to be tender and vulnerable. I’ll be looking for his work again.

The final bit was “Russian Seasons” by Alexie Ratmansky. The funny turban hats made this look more ethnically Russian, but what was very cool was the singing (by Irina Rindzuner) – the kind of strange, rising up at the end female vocals I associate with the Hungarian women’s choirs. This dancing was much more … I don’t know, unselfconsciously Russian than the Martins piece. It really seemed to tell different stories, with the people (five couples?) taking care of each other, ignoring each other, falling apart … it was enjoyable to watch but I think somewhere around the last fifteen minutes or so I just got worn out and gave up the ghost. It was fine, it just wasn’t … energetic enough. And it was too long.

So for a balletomane like me, this was a good night out, as I’m always hoping to find a good new choreographer and they are few and far between. Seeing this backed right up against the Jerome Robbins night like I did really reminded me of how there’s really a special something that makes a choreographer great – and while a lot of people might spend time with dancers, very few of these people will ever really achieve greatness.

(This review was for a performance the night of Tuesday, March 18th, 2008. Casting was as follows: TUESDAY EVENING, MARCH 18, 7:30 P.M.
(Conductor: Karoui)
CAROUSEL (A DANCE): Peck, Woetzel
pause
ZAKOUSKI: Borree, Hübbe+
IN VENTO: *Reichlen, Millepied, Fowler
RUSSIAN SEASONS: Krohn, Whelan, Rutherford, Evans)

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One Response to “Spring Dance at the Coliseum – City Ballet’s “Four Voices: Wheeldon, Martins, Bigonzetti, Ratmansky” Program – London Coliseum”

  1. dancelover Says:

    nice review, I always love it when someone has a good audience experience with dance and shares it

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