Review: CARMINA BURANA at KC Ballet

By: Oct. 12, 2019

Review: CARMINA BURANA at KC Ballet There is, in this reviewer's opinion, no better way to open a season than with a display of new work. Such was the case last night with the Kansas City Ballet when they started their season with a trio of innovative works.

First up was "Tulips and Lobster", choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. This work, created as part of the Johnson County Community College New Dance Partners project, is an amusing piece based on 17th century artwork and featuring the music of Purcell, Albinoni, Lambert, Locatelli and Vivaldi. It is rare that choreography may be called witty, but such was certainly the case in this instance. Mood overall was facetious but with certain moments of seriousness, such as a passage featuring Michael Lambert's "Vos Mepris Chaque Jour" rendered beautifully by Sarah Tannehill Anderson (it is perhaps meet to note here that this is the first performance of this ballet to live musical accompaniment). Overall, it was most enjoyable and an excellent start to the program.

Next was "Petal", created by Helen Pickett with the music of Thomas Newman & Philip Glass. Mr. Glass does so often appear in newer works of choreography, and we suspect this will be the case for quite a long time to come. The staging is particularly striking, the performance area being bathed in color and light. There are three "stages" of color presented, each evoking a different mood and with appropriately different presentation. Ms Pickett guides us from one to another, demonstrating versatility and grace.

Finally, the headline event of the evening. Adam Hougland, whose "Rite of Spring" brought such a jaw-dropping end to the 2015-2016 season, premieres his working of Carl Orff's great cantata "Carmina Burana", of which the first passage "O Furtuna" is perhaps his best-known work. Once again he has given us a striking interpretation of the work in question, creating an evocative self-contained place in which Orff's "magical images" may be contained. Abstract playlets, rituals in dark and secret places. A bacchanale of sorts, following each of Orff's 25 movements. A hymn to the ever-turning wheel of fate.

Special mention must be made of Christian Squires' costume designs, which add extra layers of mystery and other-worldliness to the proceedings. One almost feels an interloper, peeking unbidden on an ancient and sacred rite. A choreographed mimicry of the cycles of life, as it were. With the addition of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus (and most particularly the soloists Daniel Hansen, Armando Contreras, and Miss Anderson again), the end result was a full and sumptuous production. The whole thing was frankly amazing, and we were very pleased to be able to see its premiere.

And so we are off. Another season begins. Last night this reviewer found herself next to a lady who was viewing her first ballet. From her reaction as we filed out of the theatre, I suspect it shall not be her last. To see how art moves people is a sensation that never grows old. And to see new creations, or new visions, reminds us that art is ever going forward. And as this reviewer stepped out into the brisk night air, she could not but feel it was going to be a very good season indeed.