George Piper Dances/Ballet
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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