Friday, October 18, 2013

Ballet BC's Tilt

Last night Ballet BC's season opening program, Tilt, debuted at the Queen Elizabeth. I regret that an imminent dash to the airport means I cannot do the three works that make it up full justice. But suffice to say that in conception and execution the program definitely shows the company has reached a higher level. As a colleague from UBC exclaimed to me during the second intermission, "these dancers are fantastic!"

The evening begins with a world premiere from Finnish choreographer, Jorma Elo, whose 1st Flash--set to Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D Minor--has become a staple of the Ballet BC repertoire. I and I am You once again displays Elo's amazing musicality, built as it is around several familiar pieces by Bach (and one Schumann fugue). It features some stunning ensemble work from the men, punctuated by beautiful duets.

Ballet BC Artistic Director Emily Molnar also debuted a new work. 16 + a room, featuring the full company and three apprentices, also has a distinctive score, only this time it is an electronic one by Dirk P. Haubrich. Drawing on an eclectic range of source "texts" for the piece, the work features some of Molnar's most inspired choreography, with the men again working very tightly as a group. Solos by favourites Livona Ellis and Rachel Meyer also stood out. I do wish, however, Molnar would find a way other than running and sliding to get her dancers on and off the stage.

Finally, the evening ended with a reprise of Johan Inger's Walking Mad, set to Ravel's Bolero and featuring a moveable wall. It was interesting to experience the reaction of audience members who weren't expecting the coda, a quiet and deeply affecting duet between Gilbert Small and Makaila Wallace that is danced to the music of Arvo Pärt. Whipped into a frenzy by Ravel's crescendoing orchestral score and Inger's fast and furious unison movement, one is jolted suddenly into another emotional register with the lone piano and the slow, mournful movement that follows. A fitting final act for Wallace, who I understand is retiring after this program.

Tilt is on through Saturday.


No comments: