I keep learning
It’s ballet time again, and once more the Smuin Ballet delivers a smashing performance at the Lesher Center.
Last night’s program started with the only piece they dance to classical music, Starshadows. Three couples, very sexy. Music by Ravel, a composer who knows from sexy. Dark, stark stage. Dark stark costuming. It gets your full attention and holds it.
Then, after only about 18 minutes, there is an intermission. I don’t know why ballet companies have these early entr’ actes, but I don’t like it.
Once we came back to the ballet there were two more performances, modern non-narrative pieces we greatly enjoyed. Then the intermission you would expect.
Now comes the really interesting part of the evening. A piece entitled Cold Virtues, with music by modernist composer Phillip Glass. I can’t remember any ballet where the dance moves so closely matched with the music–not the tempo, but the style. This dance was composed of sharp, angular, staccato moves that fit perfectly with Glass’ sharp, angular music. I feel like I got to watch a master class in choreography last night.
Finally, a Smuin favorite, Oh, Inverted World. A wonderful piece in 8 parts, with bright happy costuming and music and dance that will make your heart sing.
Watching this last piece, I got to thinking about the acting that is part of ballet, and how the dancers were changing from one character to another with different parts of the piece. I’d never thought of characterization in dance before.
After the Friday night performance, the Smuin holds a reception for the cast in the lobby. They pour a few glasses of wine and the cast members all get dressed and come out to greet the audience. We always stay for these because it is so interesting to talk to the dancers.
We got talking with Jonathan Powell, one of the newest members of the company, having just joined last Halloween. He told us he started taking ballet when he was 18, which is quite old for a beginner. He’s clearly a fast learner. On the subject of characters, he said he indeed creates characters for each of the dances, a process which informs his dance and makes it more emotional and less mechanical. I’ll be watching dance with different eyes in the future thanks to that discussion.
The Smuin performs at the Lesher Center Saturday night and Sunday Afternoon. Don’t miss it.