Ballet BC
Bliss Choreography by José Navas

Dates and Venue 10 - 12 May 2012, 8pm | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Artistic Director Emily Molnar Resident Choreographer Jose Navas Lighting Design Marc Parent Costume Design Linda Chow

Reviewer Nancie Ottem

We have come to expect a lot from Ballet BC. The program the company performed on Thursday evening certainly lived up to those expectations. Resident choreographer Jose Navas created three pieces for the evening. The bliss that from their limbs all movement takes had its world premiere on November 18th, 2010 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. This was the first work that Navas created for Ballet BC as their resident choreographer.

Navas expanded on this work to create a new full length ballet for the Company. The bliss that from their limbs all movement takes anchored the evening tonight. It is danced to the music of Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass. The pulse of this music keeps the dancers moving in a continuous flow. They are one with each other and with the music. It was as if one was looking through a kaleidoscope in action as the dancers fell into poses like the coloured chips in the children’s tube continuously change colour and patterns.

It was hypnotic and humbling to watch the dancer’s bodies interact with such intimacy against the powerful rhythm of the music. The program opened with Annunciations. It is danced to the music of Mozart’s Allegro from Trio in G, Adagio from Trio in B flat, Allegretto from Trio in B flat, Tonight was the world premiere for Annunciations and also the second piece of the evening, A Thousand Ways to Meet You Tenderly.

Annunciations gave the impression that one was watching a private performance. The work begins with a sculpture of dancers entering from left of stage. They pause centre stage for a moment and then slowly disengage. It is an announcement of the dance that will unfold. The styling of the costume bodices seemed to evoke an 18th century presence that the music of Mozart verified.

The side lighting highlighted the dancer’s movements as they took turns in the light. It is a beautiful piece, danced en pointe in true classic ballet style with the light and shadows created by angled light giving a sculptural quality to the dance. It is breathtaking to behold. One wishes that every sculptured movement could be etched in memory forever.

The second work presented on Thursday evening A Thousand Ways to Meet You Tenderly was danced to the very sombre music of Henryk Gorecki, Four pairs of dancers enter carrying chairs. The chairs act as an anchor from which each pair face each other across the void of centre stage. The work is both tender and raw.

It bares the vulnerability of the dancers and ourselves with its submissive and alternatively aggressive poses. It leaves one feeling the heaviness of spirit that is associated with life and loss. The dancers expose the core of what it is to be human. They dance against a bare stage which deepened the feeling of emptiness that body and mind experience while working through loss. This is a modern work in staging and costume. It was well placed between the two intermissions giving the audience time to absorb its powerful impact.

Jose Navas has acknowledged that the movement in Bliss was created in collaboration with the dancers. That was very evident on Thursday evening. Their bodies were at one with the movement and the music exuding an emotion that was palpable to the audience. They certainly deserved the long and enthusiastic standing ovation that they received.

© 2012 Nancie Ottem