Talk about a love-hate relationship.
The most haunting moments
of the Joffrey Ballet’s performance with the Cleveland Orchestra at
Blossom Sunday night came with a mesmerizing duet from Lar Lubovitch’s
Othello, based on the romantic tragedy. The magnificent Fabrice Calmels
was thoroughly threatening as the enraged Moor, blinded by jealousy. As
Desdemona, the girlish April Daly had a limp suppleness and looked
completely malleable in the hands of Calmels, whose physique made him
seem like a giant next to her.
Those who know the story knew
what was coming, but the Joffrey dancers’ characterizations were so
strong and the mood they created so electrifying, members of the
audience were enveloped in the horror of this murder scene. Calmels’
face was rife with conflicting emotions as he alternated between laying
Daly down with great tenderness and looking at her with murderous rage,
at one point holding her head as if he wanted to crush her.
the most interesting things about this dance, premiered by American
Ballet Theatre in 1997, is that Desdemona never fights Othello or
resists him. Despite all the tension, she appears to trust her husband
100 percent, and dancer Daly must trust her partner fully to pull off
this horror. The moment of truth comes when Othello twists a wedding
handkerchief around the falsely accused Desdemona’s neck and creates the
illusion of pulling her body up, with the handkerchief serving as a
This short duet, excerpted from Lubovitch’s three-act dance, was so masterful, it left me eager to see more.
Saturday and Sunday in its third straight year at Blossom, the Joffrey
Ballet offered a well-varied program of modern dance, contemporary
ballet and classic favorites.
Anastacia Holden starred in the
modern dance Night, by Julia Adam, in which she starts out curled up in
sleep on a male dancer’s back, with three men in a row on their knees
representing her bed, which comes to life. Holden encounters a seductive
Tall Man who takes her on a dream journey. All the men wear flouncy
gray pants that have been aptly described as faun-pants, while the
mythological-looking women wear the same design in skirt trains.
music by Matthew Pierce is rather nondescript, coming to abrupt stops a
couple of times and even segueing into a syncopated pop-infused section
with heavy drums that sounds like a rock band. Although the dance at
times seemed to lose its way, it was clear that Holden’s character was
trying to find elusive answers in her dream, but was repeatedly pulled
in different directions by the men.
Lasting images included three
women wrapped in gray fabric to represent a three-headed woman, Holden
climbing up a male dancer’s leg and backside as if his body were steps,
and Holden being carried upside down with her feet askew, adding to the
off-kilter, surreal mood.
Balanchine enthusiasts got a big dose of
his choreographic work — both his Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and his
Stravinsky Violin Concerto. The pas de deux featured Dylan Gutierrez
dressed as a prince and Daly again in a sprightly, joyful role as his
love. The music for this Act III excerpt from Swan Lake wasn’t published
with the original score in 1877 and was believed to be lost until 1953.
Balanchine used the music, rediscovered in the Moscow Bolshoi archives,
for his 1960 ballet.
Balanchine looked up to Stravinsky, creating
39 of his 400 ballets with the composer’s music. The Violin Concerto,
featuring violin soloist Jun-Min Amy Lee, presents two arias with
contrasting pas de deux. The first, with Joanna Wozniak and Matthew
Adamczyk on Sunday, looked beyond human. The dancers resembled
fantastical birds at one point, with Wozniak’s elbows bent and hands
spread downward as Adamczyk stood behind her, his arms reaching out from
under her armpits and his hands up, palms out and fingers fanned.
second pas de deux was much more intimate and sensual, with Victoria
Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili looking into each other’s eyes. In a
delightfully tender moment that’s repeated, Suluashvili slid on his
knees toward the standing Jaiani, she pushed her knees together and he
briefly held them.
Another high point of the program was British
choreographer Wheeldon’s After the Rain, a study in contrasts that
utilizes the dark music of Arvo Part to create a rainstorm with six
dancers. The first part of the ballet is marked by sharp contemporary
movement and tense, angular patterns.
That was followed by the
“calm after the storm” in an achingly beautiful pas de deux danced
Sunday night by Christine Rocas and Suluashvili. In the dance’s most
gorgeous moments, he lay on his side with his knees drawn up at a right
angle, supporting her right leg near his head with his hands as she
seemed to arch back endlessly, her long hair flowing down. The loving
partnering ended with her in a backbend, him crawling under her to lie
on his back before she lowered herself to lie down across him.
2005 piece by Wheeldon was a study in tenderness that easily
transcended the Joffrey’s performance of his swirling Carousel two years
ago at Blossom.
Receive special offer alerts and updates right to your phone!Text joffrey to 366948 to opt into Joffrey Mobile Alerts
© Joffrey Ballet. All rights reserved.