For the third program of Pennsylvania Ballet’s 2015-2016 season, artistic director Angel Corella picked three company premieres in addition to one all-time company’s favorite. The selections show Corella’s close attention to the dancers’ talents and characters and his passion to bring out the best in them.
Out of three premieres, Without Words by Nacho Duarto and For Four by Christopher Wheeldon are set to scores of music by Franz Schubert. In Without Words, four pairs of male and female dancers in simple nude color tights and leotards show longing for intimacy through flawless lifts and movements. While each dancer shows settled yet bold movements, principal dancer Amy Aldridge is exceptionally noteworthy for the intense sparks in her graceful dance, depicting the strength that our lives, and a professional dancer’s life, require to keep going.
For Four was originally choreographed for Kings of Dance, an all-star showcase of top male dancers in California, in 2006. Corella himself danced the piece in the same year in New York. The original version featured four male dancers from four different schools of dance (Cuban, Russian, Danish, and American-Balanchine style), showcasing four different styles of classical ballet, exhibited by the equally amazing dancers. The four selected dancers for Pennsylvania Ballet premiere, Ian Hussey, Jermel Johnson, Arian Molina Soca, and Amir Yogev show well-established techniques of classical ballet through their noble and graceful pas and jumps.
Chutes and Ladders, also a company premiere, is a cheerful and lovely dance. Choreographed by Justin Peck, a resident of New York City Ballet at only 27 years old, it is a duet dance with a string quartet on stage. Though their movements reveal slight roughness, Lauren Fadeley and Craig Wasserman show their powerful in an exhilarating dance.
The last dance of the program, N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz is one of the classics of American ballet. Choreographed by Jerome Robbins, who was one of the artistic directors of West Side Story, it is an abstract ballet set to cool jazz and angst-ridden beats, featuring teenagers of the post-war era of New York City streets. The PA Ballet’s dancers, with a few exceptions, needed more swing in their dance so they didn’t look like they were dancing strictly classical ballet, but they certainly convey an explosive energy and pure longing to dance.
[The Merriam Theater, 250 S Broad St] February 4-7, 2016; paballet.org