Billy and Michael photographed dancing Critical Mass

George Piper Dances/Ballet Boyz

‘Steptext,’ ‘Mesmerics,’ ‘Torsion’

by Carol Herron

October 21, 2003 – Lisner Auditorium, Washington, D.C.


George Piper Dances currently consists of five dancers, all exceptionally talented and well-trained, from prestigious classical ballet companies, The Royal Ballet, the English National Ballet and The Birmingham Royal Ballet.

The evening opened with "Steptext", by William Forsythe, music JS Bach, Chaconne No. 4 in D minor for solo violin. "A spellbinding exercise in deconstructed classicism... a powerful display of dance at its very limits" (Notes on the Program). It began with Hubert Essakow standing alone in black tights and leotard doing interesting and energetic arm and upper body movements with no music, eventually the lights went down and four dancers, Essakow, Michael Nunn, William Trevitt and Monica Zamora joined in an older Forsythe dance that is, at times, lyrical with flashes of classical movement, but also incorporates emotional sections of what appears to be aggression and arrogance, along with prolonged moments of quiet and stillness.

Forsythe is a protege of Adorno scholars and, as such, incorporates some of the philosophy, using the interaction of contradictions and opposites to develop new definitions for art and dance. The dance is beautiful and yet often disturbing, the single woman is sometimes strong and other times is dragged around by one of the men. Sometimes the dancers are in opposition, sometimes in harmony, sometimes standing and watching and other times carefully ignoring the others on stage. It was interesting for me to see the contrast in styles of each of the dancers. Each one obviously extremely well trained but very unique.

A short intermission was filled with a funny, yet enlightening video with interesting scenes about both William Forsythe and Christopher Wheeldon.

Then came Christopher Wheeldon's "Mesmerics", music by Philip Glass, danced by all five of the dancers. The music is delicious, and the dance flows effortlessly from an almost serene beginning to a strong emotional ending. The interactions between the dancers was wonderful, Essakow and Panchenko matched beautifully in size and style. Nunn and Trevitt was also a beautiful pairing, again the subtle, fascinating contrast between the two making it exciting and unusual. And, I could go on and on about the various permutations, Monica Zamora and Oxana Panchenko, all five of the dancers together, and how each works so well, enhancing the overall impact of the dance. The patterns on the stage and against the backdrop were beautiful, the movement sensual and relational. Having seen a very exciting rehearsal of this piece in London a couple of months ago it was a true joy to see the finished product. It has been polished to brilliant, shining work of art.

Another video, again very funny and entertaining, hinting at the hard work and actual pain involved in learning how to dance at this level.

"Torsion" a dance choreographed by Russell Maliphant to music by Richard English, was the final piece. A duet for Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, this dance exploits those similarities and differences between Nunn and Trevitt, similar in height and size and with the exact same background and training, they seem like opposite sides of the same coin. Throughout the evening I had been entranced by the interactions of these two, with each other and with the other three dancers. Michael Nunn has a beautiful, classical line that is soft yet completely there. He is the perfect partner, a consummate dancer that complements, supports and enhances his dancing partner. Alone he is a wonderful, lyrical dancer, but with a partner he becomes part of greater whole, that is inspiring to witness. Trevitt, also has beautiful, classical technique and he is a little more, I hate to use this overused word, 'edgy', powerful and compelling. In his solo he circles the stage in a spinning crouch that brought cheers from the crowd. The dance comes to conclusion with lifts and movements are done at an increasing speed, sometimes they work in unison, sometimes in sequence and other times in contrast.

George Piper Dances deserved their numerous curtain calls, they were wonderful.

Edited by Jeff.

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