Joffrey Ballet in San Diego: Review
It is not too often that world renowned ballet companies make their way to San Diego so I jumped on the opportunity to see the Joffrey Ballet perform at the San Diego Copley Symphony Hall on Tuesday, January 29, 2013. I was pleased to see that the repertoire would be all contemporary ballet pieces in which they performed three- Stanton Welch’s Son of Chamber Symphony, Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain, and William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.
The program began abruptly with Son of Chamber Symphony choreographed by Stanton Welch, as both the music and the dancing started as the curtain was rising, on the first count of the music, written by John Adams. Four male dancers were surrounding one female dancer, Anastacia Holden, wearing an edgy, modern version of a tutu. Holden performed the choreography with precision and attack. Her sense of balance is something that most dancers would envy along with her petite yet athletic build. The true standout though came in the second movement with a pas de deux performed by April Daly and Dylan Gutierrez. Ms. Daly truly has it all feet, legs, flexibility, turns, and the ability to emote all wrapped into one long and lean package. I could have watched her dance for hours…if only this ballet was longer! Son of Chamber Symphony was my favorite piece of the evening. I could definitely see the Balanchine influence in the choreography which made me want to dance it, of course. (gotta love the “chugs” and the “hip thrusts” in the third movement)
The second piece was Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain. After hearing so much about this ballet since it was choreographed in 2005, I had very high expectations. The dancers definitely delivered the feeling that is expected from this short piece. The audience moved and breathed with the female dancer either Christine Roccas or Yumelia Garcia (not clear in the program) as she effortlessly enchanted them all with real raw emotion during her pas de deux to the famously haunting music Spiegel im Spiegel in the second movement.
The third piece, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated reminded me of the type of ballets the Joffrey is known for. As a kid, I remember Billboards and this ballet, particularly the costumes, gave me that early 90’s kind of feeling. The choreography looked fun and the dancers executed it well, however the music was in my opinion revolting. The standout of In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated was Christine Roccas who fluidly moved through the piece, executing multiple turns with ease. The dancers were really able to show off their technical “tricks” and abilities in this piece whether it be flexibility or turns. The men were landing five and six pirouettes like nothing and my jaw definitely dropped a few times in regards to a particular female dancer’s a la seconde turns. While I enjoyed watching the technicality of this piece, I did feel that the costumes were a bit dated. Not to mention that with the black tights, you could not see the dancer’s legs at times.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my evening seeing the Joffrey Ballet perform these three pieces. This performance proved why Joffrey Ballet is and always was one of the top ballet companies in the country. I look forward to seeing how these talented dancers progress!
*Please note that none of the photos shown on this page are mine, nor am I claiming them to be my intellectual property.
Complexions Contemporary Dance Review
As a professional dancer in San Diego I do not get many opportunities to see truly great dance companies perform without having to travel to another city. It has been a long time since I have been excited to see a company as I was when I purchased tickets to see Complexions Contemporary Dance perform at the Birch North Park Theatre in San Diego on Saturday, May 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm.
The evening started off with a piece called Moon Over Jupiter choreographed by Dwight Rhoden set to classical music by Sergei Rachmaninov. From the moment the curtain opened I knew that this one was going to knock my socks off. The Women wore nothing but leotards, showing off their tight and toned legs that even the best body builders would be envious of. The Men were shirtless sculptures of art that definitely showed off the demands of the intricate leg and foot work displayed in Rhoden’s choreography. I was wowed by this piece like I haven’t been in years. The choreography embodied the technical athleticism and intelligence that the dance world has not seen since George Balanchine. The “slides” which may have looked like mishaps or slips to uneducated audience members very much reminded me of the hip thrusts in the ballet Concerto Barroco (Balanchine). This was my favorite piece of the evening because of the stunning athleticism and stamina required by the dancers who are so lucky to work for such an amazing choreographer. Notable dancer was Sabra Perry who’s fluidity of movement shocked me. At first sight, this gorgeous long limbed dancer is awkwardly tall and very Darcy Bussell like. I have never seen long limbs move so effortlessly and Rhoden’s choreography clearly suits her well.
After the first intermission three pieces were presented, none of which I was particularly fond of. Moody Boot Blues started off fabulously but I wished that it was longer. Desmond Richardson’s solo, Moonlight, was amazing and emotional of course but I would have liked to have seen a more dancy solo. This was a great break from the technical pieces though and I feel that the audience received it well. My least favorite piece of the evening was On Holiday which reminded me of being at one of my Dad’s ( a Jazz Musician) Jazz clubs as a kid. Great choreography, great concept but a bit boring and slow to watch.
The highlight of the evening was Rise, a piece choreographed to music by U2. The feel was automatically one of a rock concert with music blaring, smiling faces, and a feeling that dared the audience to get up and start head-banging. This piece was so much fun to watch and looked like even more fun to dance. It reminded me of one of my favorite ballets Brand New Day by Kevin O’Day, which was a ballet done to the music of Sting. Notable dancers were Patricia Hachey who’s flawless training and technique truly shined as the song lyrics radiated from her being and Natalia Alonso who’s gorgeous physique continued to amaze me throughout the evening.Overall this was an amazing evening that refreshed my opinion of dance. I feel that Rhoden’s choreography is truly the way that the dance world should be headed with the athleticism, long lines, and organic movements that aren’t tastelessly contemporary nor too safe like much ballet choreography these days. This was the perfect blend of everything that you would want from a truly great dance performance.