Saturday, November 13, 2010

All Tharp, All Awesome

The Pacific Northwest Ballet comes through again, this time with an entire program featuring choreographer Twyla Tharp. I can't choose a favorite between the second and third pieces performed: "Afternoon Ball" and "Waterbaby Bagatelles." The first highlights alienation, almost unbearable tension, and a sort of juked up, spastic movement. The two male leads really interested me: one becomes a protoganist, torn between the other creatures of the street and an imperiously elegant and ghostly waltzing couple. The other, cloaked in baggy flannel, wheels almost dangerously about the stage, dragging his arms and legs as if they are unfamiliar appendages; then, he suddenly breaks into fluid movement and glides smoothly, in control. My heart was in my throat.

The Bagatelles represent seven short pieces, collaged together with different music for each piece. The imagery delights: identical ballerinas dressed as synchronized swimmers; male dancers leaping shirtless and giddy; a dangerously sexy and sinuous duet between principals Karel Cruz and Carla Korbes. Visually, parallel tubes of fluorescent lighting hang suspended over the stage, and rotate down, up, and to different angles throughout the seven pieces. Sometimes the lights made me think of the ocean floor, and other times, as they were lowered, I thought of a confining aquarium and the artificial lights creating the look of "aquamarine." It's an interesting way to play with the space of the stage itself, reminding the viewer of its temporal limits, even as the dancers' movements are so joyously extended and boundless.

I am in love with the ballet. Every performance has left me with something to ponder (or, let's face it, a crush on one of the dancers.) If you happen to live in Seattle, treat yourself!

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