BWW Reviews: Houston Ballet's FOUR PREMIERES is a Celebration of Choreography

BWW Reviews: Houston Ballet's FOUR PREMIERES is a Celebration of Choreography

The Houston Ballet is notorious for providing audiences with top-notch productions and a supremely talented company. Launching into their 2013-2014 season, Houston Ballet opens with FOUR PREMIERES. Consisting of one American premiere and three world premieres, FOUR PREMIERES is a wonderful evening of dance, with works choreographed by Chrisopher Bruce, Melissa Hough, Garrett Smith, and James Kudelka.

The ballet opens with the American premiere of Christopher Bruce's INTIMATE PAGES, set to String Quartet No. 2 by Leos Janacek. Originally debuting at England's Ballet Rambert in 1984, reviewers were quick to praise the deep emotions conveyed in Bruce's choreography. Houston Ballet's premier of INITMATE PAGES is beautifully visceral and haunting chamber ballet that presents audiences with a tangled web of couplehood that undulates with togetherness and separation. There is an inherent drama to the production that is immediately captivating and unsettling. Jessica Collado and Ian Casady deliver an enigmatic performance as they portray a couple that is emotionally bound. Together they pristinely execute choreography that is the perfect marrying of long elegant movements and abrupt distinct motions, successfully highlighting the couple's shifting dynamics. Individually Jessica Collado masterfully exudes passion that is both pained and hopeful, while Ian Casady portrays a man who is very much torn. Emily Bowen, Christopher Gray, Elise Judson, and Derek Dunn are haunting as the childlike and ethereal antagonists working to pull the couple apart. Emily Bowen and Elise Judson master movements that are reminiscent of youthfulness and exude a consistent playfulness and urgency. Christopher Gray and Derek Dunn's grandiose sweeping movements also render a resolution to separate the couple. One of the most breathtaking moments of INTIMATE PAGES is near the end when Jessica Collado and Ian Casady move intimately together in juxtaposition to the other four dancers who expertly move in unison in a folk-like dance style, which eventually culminates in the final parting of the couple. Scenic and Costume Design by Walter Nobbe foreshadows the couple's ultimate fate of separation. The female is adorned with a flowing red dress that distinctly stands apart from the background and other dancers' subdued garments. Christopher Bruce's INITIMATE PAGES is a thought-provoking and deeply emotional work of art that lingers with you long after the final moment.

The second ballet of the production is a world premiere from former Houston Ballet dancer Melissa Hough. Set to Gabriel Prokofiev's String Quartet No. 1, ...THE THIRD KIND [IS] USELESS. is a marvelously jarring and enigmatic piece of modern dance that is both sensual and radical. Reminiscent of performance art, Melissa Hough's ...THE THIRD KIND [IS] USELESS. is a successful amalgamation of several styles that keeps the viewer watching each dancer with bated breath. Connor Walsh excels as the male lead whose inner humanness and psychological torment is exposed. He dexterously emanates a confidence and dominance while slowly altering to show an inner turmoil. Kelly Myernick delivers a powerful performance as Connor Walsh's foil. She is gracefully vulnerable in response to Connor Walsh's control, but masterfully becomes a sensual force to be reckoned with as his insecurities rise. Melissa Hough's choreography of all of the dancers is complex, with attention to even the smallest details. The integration of vocals from the dancers and their skillful delivery of the eclectic movements throughout the piece leave the viewer intrigued and even anxious to a certain degree. Costume Design by Monica Guerra and Lighting Design by Lisa J. Pinkham work well to present an image that feels futuristic and other-worldly, elevating the piece to a new level. Inescapably mesmerizing, Melissa Hough's ...THE THIRD KIND [IS] USELESS. is wonderfully provocative down to the final moment.

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