Pittsburgh Ballet performance at the August Wilson Center impresses
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's “Unspoken” is a feast for dance lovers, a triple bill of exhilarating genius by three masters of modern dance — George Balanchine, Anthony Tudor and Mark Morris. The production, seen March 2, benefits from the intimacy of the small theater at the August Wilson Center. Downtown.
The balcony is the place from which to experience Balanchine's “Serenade” because it affords the best view of the choreographer's inventive patterns of large-scale movements. It is set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's gorgeous Serenade for Strings. He originally choreographed the first three movements, ending quietly with the Elegie, and later added Tchaikovsky's finale but placed it before the Elegie.
“Serenade” has no narrative line, but Balanchine did create shrewd transitions. The first movement is almost entirely for female dancers, who move from a long and elegant line into a series of subgroups, some of which come together for very creatively artful poses, but mainly delight through the unending inventiveness of abstract movement.
The first male dancer enters at the end of the first movement to partner with the leading woman. The waltz featuring Christine Schwaner and Nurlan Abougaliev that follows could not be a more natural continuation. Similarly, Schwaner's collapse at the end of the ballet's third movement (Tchaikovsky's finale) leads directly to the ballet's Elegie finale.
Although there were a few imprecisions in what should have been straight lines of dancers on Saturday, the unanimity of the corps' arm movements and the overall timing were impressive. The leading dancers, also including Amanda Cochrane, Eva Trapp and Robert Moore, were all excellent.
Tudor's “Jardin aux Lilas” (Lilac Garden) is a narrative ballet in costumes set to Ernest Chausson's Poeme for solo violin and orchestra — darkly moody music that serves the story well. Cochrane performed a beautifully nuanced portrayal of Caroline, a woman about to enter into a marriage of convenience who encounters her true love at a farewell party before the ceremony. Abougaliev, as Her Lover, also skillfully danced around the line between ardent attraction and fear of being discovered.
Alejandro Diaz was The Man She Must Marry, a stiffly aristocratic role in this Victorian story. Elysa Hotchkiss was the fourth member of the awkward romantic quarter, playing An Episode in His Past.
Tudor's dramatically honest choreography is based on classical ballet, but stripped of ornament and display. He also makes uncommonly fine use of the leading dancers' eyes as propriety and desire conflict.
“Dance to Me Only With Thine Eyes” is, like the Balanchine, a non-narrative ballet. Morris takes fresh inspiration from each of the 12 Etudes for Piano by Virgil Thompson. Company pianist Yoland Collin played Thompson's music with keenly drawn personality and unostentatious wit. The evening's other ballets were danced to recordings.
Morris created this work for American Ballet Theatre, which gave the premiere in 1988. It is joyously playful — playful in the interaction of the dancers and playful in the way their movements deconstruct and reassemble elements of dance vocabulary — not that he doesn't add twists of his own invention.
The exuberance of the ballet's dozen dancers who performed this work was irresistible, both in moments of individuality and in patterned ensemble action.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's “Unspoken” will be repeated at 2 p.m. March 10 and 17, 7:30 p.m. March 14, and 8 p.m. March 15 and 16 at the August Wilson Center, Downtown. Admission is $23.75 to $68.75.
Mark Kanny is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh mayor says new police chief’s skills fit the job well
- Regulators release details of Highmark’s post-UPMC transition plan
- Unlike years past, strength of 2014 Steelers could be offense
- Steelers Lookahead: Previewing Sunday’s game vs. Cleveland
- Pirates add six players to roster, including OF Polanco
- Tomlin: Steelers preparing to face both Browns QBs
- Retail theft suspect takes off, leaves baby at Rostraver Township Walmart
- Study to look at financial impact of state’s gas boom
- Wedding aboard Pittsburgh’s Gateway Clipper ends in arrests
- Housing market remains ‘disaster’ in Westmoreland County
- Bethel Park mortgage broker pleads guilty