BALANCHINE & BEYOND (PA Ballet): Experiment and challenge our comfort zone


Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev
Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments.
Photo by Alexander Iziliaev

For the last program of Pennsylvania Ballet’s 2015-2016 season, BALANCHINE & BEYOND, the artistic director, Angel Corella challenges both the dancers and the audience with the four experimental dances, AdagioHammerklavier, O zlozony/O composite, Varied Trio (In Four) and The Four Temperaments.

The choreographer of Adagio Hammerklavier, Hans van Manen put his focus on movements and the lines of dancers rather than narrating stories or dramas. Three pairs of male and female dancers in simple and elegant white costume flow and create patterns.  Set to Beethoven’s Adagio from Piano Sonata No 29, Op.106, both the music and the dancers emotions are subtle and fair.  Yet there are moments when their movements depict and visualize the passionate melodies the Beethoven’s music conceals.  Oksana Maslova and Arian Molina Soca, with their excellent sensitivity to music and prominent talent to express it, let the viewers to feel the depth of the music and the beauty of each line or step.  Also performed by the same pair, Maslova and Soca, Varied Trio (In Four), shows rapid change of the mood through physically demanding choreography by Jean-Pierre Frohlich and the music by Lou Harrison, an american contemporary composer who was known for his experimental music by utilizing non-western music instruments.

O zlozony/O composite is the company’s premiere and also this is the first time an American ballet company performs a work by the choreographer, Trisha Brown.  The dance requires the dancers to go beyond their comfort zone of ballet and be experimental in any way. With a drawing of starry sky by Vija Celmins as the backdrop and an original music score by Laurie Anderson, Lillian Di Piazza, Ian Hussey and Aaron Anker challenge the gravity, their balance, their physics and the space that surround them.

As the last performance of the program and this season, the dancers present another Balanchine’s piece, The Four Temperaments. First premiered by Ballet Society of Central High School of Needle Trades in New York in 1946 and by Pennsylvania Ballet in 1969, the dancers exhibit four fundamental elements of earth, air, water and fire, which also symbolize four emotions of “Melancholic,” “Sanguinic,” “Phlegmatic,” and “Choleric.”  Mayara Pineiro’s solo, CHOLERIC is bold and powerful, leading to the grand finale of the season.  

The company has just announced their truly exciting programs for the next season of 2016-2017, which includes some of the most extravagant and demanding ballets, Le Corsaire and Cinderella, in addition to four other programs including some world premieres.  The dancers showed rapid improvements and magnificent achievement during this season. It is very promising that the Philadelphia ballet fans will have yet another exciting season in a few months.

[The Merriam Theater, 250 S Broad St] June 9-12, 2016;

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