At The L. A.
Music Center, American Ballet Theatre's mixed repertory evening features "Within
You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison," by several choreographers,
"Pillar of Fire" by Antony Tudor, and it opens with two works, "Sechs
Tanze" and "Petite Mort" by Jiri Kylian to music by Mozart. These
pieces are more modern dance than classical ballet. The movement is very angular
and quite athletic. They are technically two separate pieces with a pause in
between the two, but they use the same style, motifs, and props. There are a
lot of those. The work opens with men whipping swords around. They are joined
by some women, then they roll a big sheet over them. Five women appear in big
solid dresses that are on wheels. It's somewhat interesting at first, but gets
a bit tiresome. I'm not really big on props in ballet, and this is way overdone.
It does have it's moments, though. When, at the end of the first piece, the
dresses are pushed across the stage with women lying back on them. Also, in
the second piece when one guy stands on another, like stilts, with the dress
in front of him, waves his sword, lops off a head, then rolls off. These two
works by Jiri Kylian were quite adventurous, and light fun.
"Pillar of Fire" is choreographed by Antony Tudor to Arnold Schoenberg's "Verklarte Nacht." The piece is set at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. It has the feel of something between "Our Town" and "Ragtime." Hagar sits forlornly on the stoop of her house. A church steeple is silhouetted against a night sky on the backdrop. Dancers pair off, exit, and reappear in a room of a house on the side having a grand old time, while Hagar writhes in torment.
This work is
very lyrical with a stormy undertone. Hagar's older sister is a lonely spinster,
and she sees the same path for herself. She meets a guy and falls in love. Their
pas de deux has athletic lifts, high backbends, turns, and jumps. She spins
into his arms, and he lifts her high. A girl floats across the back of the stage
Gillian Murphy drips with passion, love, and longing as Hagar. She has an emotional power that dominates everything. When her younger sister flirts with her lover, you feel her distress, and it provides a certain discord to everything. There's a large ensemble number, she moves through them, is lifted by various men, spins, then stops. The backdrop becomes a faintly outlined forest with a big full moon. The dancers pair off. The men hold the women high in triumph, all across the stage, and the girl floats on point across the stage as the curtain falls on this powerfully poignant "Pillar of Fire."
concludes with "Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison."
Various numbers are choreographed by David Parsons, Ann Reinking, Natalie Weir,
and Stanton Welch. If you have ever wondered what you get when classical ballet
meets rock music, this high octane number is it. First up is something, a powerful
solo by Carlos Lopez. He turns, kicks, rolls on the floor, and does big leaping
kicks with big arm movements. "I Dig Love" is a trio with Michelle
Wiles, Marcelo Gomes, and Craig Salstein. There are big sweeping lifts, she
spins across the stage, and falls in his arms. Gomes does powerful leaps and
turns. The two guys fight over the girl and she loves it. Together they do big
twisting, sweeping upside down lifts with her, and slide her across the stage.
"While my Guitar Gently Weeps" is a pas de deux with Sarawanee Tanatanit
and Sascha Radetsky. She's on his shoulder, he sweeps her down to the floor,
she kicks high, and he cartwheels across a chair at the back. This is spectacularly
athletic. It's as much gymnastics as dance, as they mold their bodies into shapes
at breakneck speed. He holds her high, she leans all the way back and he spins
her at high speed with her limbs flying. He spins her upside down and she wraps
herself around him. "Isn't a Pity?" has a man doing sensuous turns,
while other dancers walk back and forth across the stage. A big multi-layered
ensemble is reminiscent of Act 2 of Swan Lake, with rock's intensity, and dancers
in jeans and form fitting tops.
You Without You" is a sensuous pas de deux with Marcelo Gomes and Simone
Messmer. This is two people seeking each other, but there's never any consummation.
It's like "The Space Between Us." He solos, she comes back, makes
like she's lifting him off the floor, but never touches him. It's like a force
field. "My Sweet Lord" is a lively ending. It's mostly couples and
groups in very athletic jumps and splits. The movements of these unbelievably
limber bodies is astounding. You don't see classical ballet with this speed,
strength, and intensity for such long stretches. A picture of George Harrison
is projected on the scrim. The dancers pay homage with a look, and the curtain
falls on this spectacular evening of American Ballet Theatre at The L.A. Music