January 22-24

Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Reviewer RM PINK

Ballet B.C's energetic and creative presentation of three distinct works of choreography has further enhanced the company's reputation for dynamic modern dance.

The first piece, entitled In and Around Kozla Street (Warsaw), was choreographed by Frenchman, Serge Bennathan and featured dancer Miroslaw Zydowicz who was born in Poland. The title refers to an area of Warsaw, Poland, where many Jews and Poles suffered persecution at the hands of the Nazi oppressors. Mr. Bennathan has called the work a "poetic metaphor on courage."

The set was creatively designed to instill mood: a huge canvas backdrop in earth tones was streaked with dark colors. The eight dancers, five male and three female danced with emotion to music that was at times enchanting and at times aggressive and dramatic.

The standout in the piece clearly was the Polish born Zydowicz who radiated energy, wildness and playfulness in his movements.

The second piece of the evening, Petites danses pour mammiferes, (short dances for mammals) was choreographed by Myriam Naisy, also from France. The unique soundtrack combined Corelli's (Italy 1653-1713) sonata with a wildlife soundscape featuring running water , animal sounds and screams. Bright , shining lightbulbs were suspended from the ceiling to give the impression of stars and sky.

The dancing was ryhthmic and at times primalistic that provoked a rawness in the performance. At one point, the soundscape blared sharp screaming sounds which caused a brief yet palpable sense of discomfort in the audience. This was good and a refreshing change to see art provoke the audience since too much art and performance is expected.

Another unique twist, in a felliniesque addition, was the slow movement of a dancer, lying on his back, across the back of the stage while the dancers performed. Dancing by Naoko Kitajima is powerful and elegant and should be highlighted more frequently.

The last piece, choreographed by BALLET BC's inventive artistic director,  John Alleyne, was entitled; In the Course of Sleeping. This Ballet work, commissioned by Les Ballet de Monte Carlo, examines the brief moment between life and death when the soul, represented by spirits or angels, leaves the body it has had to find another one.

It premiered in Montre Carlo in 1996 and has also been performed in New York.

Alleyne's bold foray into existential territory is reflective and unique. It is clear from this and other works ( Boy Wonder) that Alleyne's is inspired by metaphysical matters. His works evoke striking explorations into mythical, philosophic and spiritual worlds; areas that are that both couageous and creative to approach.

As an artist, one cannot achieve perfect expression but there is boldness and excellence in the attempt.

The set, featuring a brilliant blue backdrop and a large white tear shaped glass ornament suspended from the ceiling provided the perfect imagery for dancing that was romantic and elegant with excellent musical accompaniment from a score by composer, Timothy Sullivan.


Copyright 1998 Ross Pink