Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Review of the Montreal Jazz Ballet at the Anneberg

First published at the Broad Street Review:

Both MAPA and Rossini Cards, performed at Annenberg by Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, began with a similar setting: a row of dancers at the back of the stage moving forward. The repetitive choreography of the former exhausted me; but the latter, while mostly wasting the dance talents of the ensemble, managed to leave a brief, unforgettable experience.

MAPA, aptly named after the composer—Marco Antonio Pena Ara├║jo— opened on a staggered line of dancers. Dressed in Anne-Marie Veevaete’s black-and-white full-body costumes and kept in shadows from the waist down by the lighting of Daniel Ranger and Pedro Pederneiras, they blended hypnotically into the similarly patterned background of Fernando Velloso’s backdrop. To a soft, ethereal sound, the dancers began rhythmically dipping their hips, moving forward on the ascent like a low wave slowly rolling into the shore from a distance.

This seductive and sumptuous prologue quickly shifted into a volatile display of techniques that fused jazz, samba and meringue dancing in high-energy, lightning-quick movements across the stage. Three dancers moving in unison quickly became five, now fiery-red clad performers exploding across the stage in the same patterns. Paired dancers rolled in turns with the lifting progressions in the music, and men hoisted their partners into quick, mid-air split kicks before turning in a flash to set them down again.

To read the full review, click here.

I'd recommend reading about the five minute interlude in Rossini Cards, in which choreographer Mauro Bagonzetti showed me a human connection more beautiful than anything I've experienced in my entire life.The image shows dancers Christina Bodie and Andrew Murdock performing something so intense that I almost had to avert my eyes.

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