Smuin Ballet’s Spring Bouquet May 17

30 May

It took a while to register why Helen Pickett’s Petal took so long to be introduced to Bay Area audiences by Smuin Ballet.  As the seventeen person ensemble closed its season at Yerba Buena’s Lam Research Theatre I remembered a comment about Yuri Possokhov’s Cinderella to the effect that the Bolshoi had exclusive rights to the production for five years.  I suspect the same reasoning may have applied to Petal, premiered by the Aspen Ballet in 2007.

It was worth the wait, an eight-person sleek sunny-toned work between Smuin’s Chanson’s d’Auvergne and Jazzin’ by Darrell Grand Moultrie, with handsome lemon-lime tights for the women with the men bare-chested dancing within lemon yellow to orange orange walls, athletic when on pointe or in grand jetes. Set to the deliberate repetitiveness of Philip Glass with additions by Thomas Montgomery Newman, it reminds one again how balletic abstraction and Glass work well together, clean sculptural work en pointe as evidence.

Rounding out the program with yet another texture was Moultrie’s Jazzin’ with its wonderful collection of jazz songs, creating an ambiance of textures – from gentle, slightly romantic French folk song tradition, to contemporary music and finishing with the immediacy of jazz singing: excellent programming.

There were one or two gutsy sets of lyrics for which Moultrie created amusing skits, allowing for chuckles, that comparative rarity with serious dance ensembles. “Spring in My Step” featured blonde Erica Felsch whose bottoms up postures in black were a little disconcerting but delivered with a nonchalance saving the dance from vulgarity. Jane Rehm danced “Takin’ No Mess” dealing with furniture in a second hand store replete with double entendre again freed froom burlesque, but such fun.  Joshua Reynolds’ “So Low” testified to the benefit Smuin Ballet has derived from his addition to the dancers’ list.

If this program is indicative Smuin Ballet is well on its way to new and rewarding adventures.


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