Ballet San Jose’s Neoclassical to Now: February 15.

15 Mar

If Jose Manuel Carreno wanted to demonstrate that Ballet San Jose’s dancers enjoyed the capacity to dance diverse styles, he could scarcely have chosen three more diverse choreographers than George Balanchine, Jorma Elo and David Naharin; the iconic Serenade, Elo’s Glow-Stop and Naharin’s Minus 16 fulfilled Carreno’s aim and then some. Ballet San Jose’s dancers rose with pride and vigor to their assignments rendered, unfortunately, to recorded music.

Opening with George Balanchine’s Serenade, Ballet San Jose staked their ground as an ensemble fulfilling the potential Balanchine portrayed in this first ballet created in the United States after his arrival from Europe, using Petyr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. With seventeen dancers and five principals, the company reflected the earnest dedicatory qualities which must have infused the original dancers, intense, focused, exalted in this formative undertaking. Thank heaven the San Jose dancers convey a touch of earthliness through all their technical assignments.

In Ommi Pipit-Suksun and Any Marie Briones, Serenade enjoyed striking interpreters and equally brilliant interpretations; they danced one with the music, true to the impulse. Alexsandra Meijer gave one of the sunniest performances she has danced, clearly enjoying her role, even down to losing the man to the unseen fateful figure of Pipit-Suksun. In Nathan Chaney, a new principal, the company enjoys a male dancer with amplitude of bearing and technique.

Glow-Stop
, which Jorma Elo set to Mozart and Philip Glass, is neither my favorite choreographer nor the work the best he can offer. I sometimes wonder why he doesn’t provide strings from the flies attached to the dancers’ arms and legs, connecting the stop and start, jerky pauses or finishes to various passages. Admittedly it’s fascinating to hear Mozart’s light, bright crystalline music and its construction deconstructed visually; your mind constantly flashes “oops, that’s not going very far.” The dancers, bless their hearts, did well by Elmo, I’m sure challenged and responsive. Choreographers, of course, are highly individualistic human beings, but deconstruction of line places Elo and MacGregor in dead heat, Elo on the puppet end, MacGregor on the contortionist side.

Minus 16
by David Naharin is set to Hebrew songs and a bit of Over The Rainbow. Seventeen dancers sat on chairs in a semi-circle, black coated, black trousered, black hatted – the image of Orthodox Hebrews, minus curls.They gradually progressed on and off the chairs to the swinging Hebraic melodies before gradually beginning to doff clothing, tossing them defiantly into the middle of the stage. It was mesmerizing and fun. In skin colored tights and leotards, they cavorted; blackout. The light rose; the dancers, dressed, sauntered off stage, inserting themselves into the rows to choose an unsuspecting member of the audience. Taking them onto the stage, they danced with them to Latin music; some of the unexpected performers respond with alacrity. A slight woman, blonde and in blue two seats away from me, really dug it. The audience adored it; what a wonderful end to the evening.

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