BWW Reviews: BALLET DU GRAND THEATRE DE GENEVE Returns to the Joyce With a New York Premiere
The evening of March 25th 2014 was opening night for a six-day run at the Joyce Theater of "Glory", a mostly glorious offering choreographed by Greek-born Andonis Foniadakis for the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève. A press release referred to the piece as "an evening-length work" but that depends on your definition of an evening at the theater. "Glory" is only about an hour long and is performed, wisely, without an intermission. Interrupting the action would have been a mistake. Even so, programming for adults rarely lasts a mere 60 minutes. The company might have been better off giving us a double bill, although to be fair the tickets are modestly priced at $10 to $49 and $26 to $37 for Joyce Theater members.
"Glory" is danced to a medley of selections from works by Handel including his greatest hit, the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah, and some lesser known compositions. The first twenty minutes or so involved dancing that was so frenetic as to be almost nerve-fraying. To their credit, the highly accomplished company members never faltered. They made the challenging steps and lifts look easy but I wonder why Foniadakis chose to use a sequence of musical phrases that the Playbill calls "lively" but which are in fact frenzied. Each one by itself is masterful but I'm sure Handel didn't intend for them to be strung together in this relentless fashion.
After that breathless beginning, however, the piece simmered down and became much more enjoyable to watch. The lighting by Mikki Kunttu, cloudy beams upstage that acted as pillars through which the dancers emerged and disappeared, was extremely effective. Kudos also to costume designer Tassos Sofroniou. Each of the 22 performers had a series of quick changes ranging from flowing skirts in black or brilliant red to a nude look for the finale. The pièce de résistance was an enormous tent-like gown with sticks attached that were manipulated by an ensemble surrounding the woman wearing the garment. The choreography was ingenious and that section was a highlight for me.