BWW Review: GELSEY KIRKLAND BALLET Experiments with an Illusionary Reality
The talented Gelsey Kirkland Ballet tackled Michael Chernov's daring new ballet, Stealing Time, this past Friday night at their modern waterfront theatre in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Set to hauntingly percussive compositions by Kurt Weill, Stealing Time explored love, desire and the inescapability of time with a penchant for the dramatic, adapted and inspired by themes from Tennessee Williams' Camino Real.
The ballet began with the reveal of a celestial transcendent reality, spotlighting the central trio, Who, Venus, and Algae, our tragic hero tormented by his own elusive desires and magnificently performed by Erez Ben-Zion Milatin. In both stature and natural talent, Milatin is reminiscent of a young Baryshnikov, conveying incredible meaning with each rapid set of fouettés and every punctuated gesture that brimmed with poetic angst and yearning. As the ballet progressed, the trio's dynamic became solidified through Chernov and Akop Akopian's specific movement vocabulary; Venus (a confident Dawn Gierling-Milatin) is Algae's wife whose heart is broken from his betrayal and Who (petite powerhouse Nina Yoshida) is the physical materialization of Algae's own shortcomings. As the three danced together and rotated into different pairings, their distinct chemistries came to life. Through an intricate series of lifts and a strikingly sensual assisted promenade, Venus and Algae showcased undying trust and commitment to one another, despite Algae's shortcomings. In addition, the fiery spark Yoshida brought into the mix helped to cast a light on the heartbreaking finality that time has over us all.
The corps de ballet remained a valiant anchor during the entire ballet, owning the stage by executing complicated partner work with ease, which helped to create layers of nuance and further Algae's own state of trauma. Twirling into a dizzying frenzy, often with continuous pirouettes and spirals, the dancers remained precise and clean, despite minor slip-ups in synchronicity and timing.
The use of dramatic props and cinematic sound and light effects, though helping to create a distinct environment, often distracted from the magnificent skill of the dancers and the exciting and complicated choreography. Though the visuals were arresting, sometimes less is more in this context and would've given audience members a chance to tap more powerfully into their imaginations.
In the end, true love prevailed and Venus' devotion saved Algae from himself. It is a testament to the maturity and discipline of the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet to showcase such versatility and mastery of technique. It's a guarantee that we'll be seeing wonderful things from this troupe of dancers for years to come.
Photo Credit: Travis Magee