Review: LA Ballet's PUSHING DANCE BOUNDARIES Presents Avant-Garde Works From 3 Remarkable Choreographers
Los Angeles Ballet (LAB), the city's own and only professional classical ballet company, is presenting both classic and contemporary programming during its 2017/2018 season. Founded in 2004 by Artistic Directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, and Executive Director Julie Whittaker, Los Angeles Ballet is known for its superb stagings of the Balanchine repertory, stylistically meticulous classical ballets, and its commitment to new works. LAB has become recognized as a world-class ballet company in twelve seasons, presenting 38 productions encompassing 56 works, including 16 commissioned world premieres.
"This season we offer a diverse repertoire as we both honor the masters and introduce our audience to a new generation of choreographers that will enthrall and delight," said Christensen and Neary. "From the romance of "Swan Lake" and the charm of "The Nutcracker" to the innovation and originality of our mixed bill program, our twelfth season highlights the versatility of our dancers."
As its first offering, LAB is treating audiences to a mixed bill Director's Choice program entitled PUSHING DANCE BOUNDARIES, a compilation of four modern dance suites with contemporary choreography. There's no elaborate costumes or sets; just brilliantly talented dancers and choreographers doing what they do best together - enchant and entertain their audiences at LAB's home theaters: UCLA's Royce Hall, Glendale's Alex Theatre, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, and the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
PUSHING DANCE BOUNDARIES features George Balanchine's The Four Temperaments, LAB premieres Second to Last and Pacopepepluto from Alejandro Cerrudo, and a world premiere created specifically for Los Angeles Ballet by Menghan Lou, This is You. Cerrudo and Lou are two of today's captivating contemporary choreographers who bring intensely dramatic viewpoints to the stage through stylized and often geometric movement, often giving each member of the ensemble to have their own moment to shine in the spotlight.
Cerrudo's Pacopepepluto showcases solo dancing by three of the companies most incredible male dancers, Robert Mulvey, Clay Murray, and Tigran Sargsyan, to songs popularized by the mid-20th Century "king of cool" Dean Martin, with low level lighting designed by Matthew Miller and executed by Tyler Lambert-Perkins showcasing the almost nakedness of the dancers while creating "light shadow trails" as their hands moved swiftly up and down, adding a very magical quality to their movements.
Members of the ensemble joyously performed the world premiere of This is You, often moving in unison in a straight line or creating group formations with many freeze frame moments showcasing their muscular physicality. Choreographer Menghan Lou, who took a curtain call with his dancers on opening night, shares, "Our experience exists on the nexus between perception and reality. The same canvas of our worldly surroundings is brought to life in the different shades of our moods as fickle human beings. One cloud can have a thousand different meanings and impressions depending on who is looking at it. Sometimes we embrace our moods, sometimes we fight them. The result is an experience unique to you."
Certainly, many seated around me expressed seeing many different things as the lighting design by Tyler Lambert-Perkins shifted in the cloud formation hanging above the dancers, allowing for mood shifts during each dance within the presentation. Will you see rain or hear thunder in the clouds or just see sunny skies filled with hope for of the time? That is for each of you to decide.
Many in the ensemble are also featured in Balanchine's The Four Temperaments, with his original choreography staged by Neary and Christensen. It is one of his earlier experimental works, fusing classical steps with a lean and angular style, inspired by the medieval belief that human beings are made up of four different humors that determine a person's temperament: Melancholic, Sanguinic, Phlegmatic and Choleric (or earth, air, water and fire). Kudos to all of the standout dancers, especially Tigran Sargsyan and Bianca Bulle who captivated the audience during their solos in the third and fourth variations.
Los Angeles Ballet 2017-2018 season:
Pushing Dance Boundaries - Directors' Choice
Royce Hall, UCLA on Saturday, October 7 at 7:30 pm, Alex Theatre in Glendale on Saturday, October 21 at 7:30 pm, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday, October 28 at 7:30 pm
Alex Theatre on December 9 and 10, Royce Hall on December 15-17, Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on December 23 and 24, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on December 29-31
Alex Theatre on March 3, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on March 10, Royce Hall, UCLA on March 16 and 17
For specific performance dates and times, or to purchase tickets, please call 310-998-7782 or visit http://www.losangelesballet.org.
Tickets: $31.00 - $99.00, students, children, seniors, and military discounts available. Dolby Theatre with Live Orchestra Tickets: $41.00 - $119.00 (discounts apply)