BWW Review: Gelsey Kirkland Ballet's ETERNAL SPRING is a Revelation
As the first signs of spring crept into the air on March 25, 2017, the same was true at the GK ArtsCenter in DUMBO, at a performance of Gelsey Kirkland Ballet's Eternal Spring. Though I've seen the company perform twice, "third time's a charm" is an age-old adage for a reason.
The show began with Arthur Saint-Léon's "La Vivandiere," a delightful Bournonville pas de deux, accompanied by a group of four synchronous soloists. Lead by the coy Nerea Barrondo and the captivating Koki Yamaguchi, the choreography's buoyant quality shimmered, like dew reflecting off of the most vibrant blooms. Barrondo's precision served to ground Yamaguchi's explosive jetés and dynamic presence; they were a lovely pairing.
"Gopak" followed, danced by the powerful Keisuke Nishikawa. A dynamic contrast to what preceded it, "Gopak" brought the fire with Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi's ferocious score. But it was Niskikawa's confidence and incredible capability that brought the piece to life with consecutive tours en l'air and whirling pirouettes.
The comical reprieve "Village Don Juan" was up next, danced with charm by Georgia Brinkman and Chieh-hung Hsueh. What's so exciting about Gelsey Kirkland Ballet is that not only is technique priority, performance is, too, and this piece proved just that.
After a brief pause, "Eros and His Arrows" was up, comprised of three different love stories being portrayed in succession. "Melodia," danced by the lissome Haruka Yamada and the powerful Johnny Almeida, communicated the beauty of melancholia, as the duo danced through each other with natural attitudes and sweeping extensions. It was a somber meditation, but nonetheless remarkable. "Eternal Spring" followed, which brought back Yamaguchi, this time paired with superstar, Nina Yoshida. From Rodin's Collection of Miniatures, the piece captured the sculpture and musculature of another time, yet the partner work remained fluid and viscous, as the pair created exciting shapes and textures with their bodies. "The Jewish Wedding" was the last piece in Act I and the weakest link of the entire show. While the company got to show off their well-rehearsed acting chops, the choreography stalled, fluctuating between pedestrian and one-note; it didn't serve these dancers to their fullest extent.<
But after the start of "Walpurgis Night," that feeling was long forgotten. A feast for the eyes, the ears, and the soul, it was magic from beginning to end. Opening on a lavish stage, set with smoking vessels and gilded décor, Yamaguchi returned a third time as the Lead Satyr, tempting and teasing his minions (and the audience!) with his captivating energy. Leaping into the air as if gravity was a mere suggestion, he maintained his dynamism throughout; enough to easily showcase his remarkable, lightning-fast fouetté turns. Graceful nymphs bourréed with tranquility and Bacchanals moved with sultry ease. But the true standout? The returning Nina Yoshida as half of the Bacchanal Couple. Partnered by tour de force Guest Artist Cristian Laverde Koenig, Yoshida was a firework, leaping, turning and radiating in a way that was unforgettable. Not only does she have the facilities to be a standout ballerina, she exudes enviable confidence that won't soon be forgotten. Her movement is bold, courageous, and molten, as each transition blended together like a beautiful harmony.
I can't wait to see what else comes from this company in the future. Bravo.
Photo Credit: Ani Collier