BWW Review: Aah! MIRRORS at Festival Ballet Providence
This weekend at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the Festival Ballet Providence danced MIRRORS, which is really three short modern ballets- 1934's "Serenade" with music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by George Ballentine; "Coma" with music by Arvo Part and choreography by Viktor Plotnikov from 2007; and "Smoke and Mirrors" from 2016 with music by Lucas Vidal and choreography by Yury Yanowsky. Right now, my spell check is going crazy. "The concept of reflection inspired this program," said Mihailo (Misha) Djuric, Artistic Director of FBP, adding, "Each ballet highlights the dynamic nature of contemporary choreography. By combining these three different pieces, we hope to introduce new audiences to the emotional and transformative power of dance." When Festival Ballet performs, pay attention-it's a limited time offer.
What I know about ballet and modern dance could fit in a thimble, but here goes. Dance seems to me totally non-verbal. I found it enhanced my enjoyment to stop trying to analyze, or guess, what things meant, but rather to appreciate the beauty, strength and grace manifesting before my eyes. Where to begin? Let's start at the very end, "Smoke and Mirrors." This piece ends with four couples (Eugenia Zinovieva and Joao Sampaio, Linnea Wahle and David DuBois, Tegan Rich and Alexander Akulov, and Jennifer Ricci and Ty Parmenter) executing the same maneuver in sequence. The male partner would lift the female, who would end the movement with a scissor kick towards the sky. The piece ended suddenly when the last ballerina completed the kick. It was a beautiful and impressive conclusion to "Smoke and Mirrors" and to the evening's performance. Think Mookie Betts ending the game with a leaping catch over the bullpen wall. The recorded music was deliberately marred by the static and muted mechanical voices, as if challenging the audience to ignore the distractions and focus on the dance. I did not understand Benjamin Phillps set, three similar towers in the background, but that's all right-I'm getting more comfortable with not understanding.
"Coma" had a little more to grab onto. In its first startling scene, suspended bodies float and sway horizontally to the simple tolling of bells. Plotnokov's costumes were almost camouflage but with angular markings. The lead dancer in the piece, Katherine Bickford, wore black, which seemed to suggest menace and death. It is the image of those bodies swaying on slabs which has stayed with me. That and the poignancy of the quick and the dead being separated.
"Serenade" seemed the most "traditional' of the three pieces. The costumes looked most like what you think ballet costumes should, and there was no set to speak of-the dancers performed in front of a plain, blue wall. Tchaikovsky's music was beautiful, and Balanchine's choreography suggested either the struggles of dancers or of lovers. Mostly my wife and I were simply in awe of the talent and grace on stage before us, and that lasted all evening.
MIRRORS was performed at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 1 Avenue of the Arts, Providence. It is a beautiful venue and wheelchair accessible. Tickets for Festival Ballet Providence performances range from $24 - $86.
"Coma": Festival Ballet_Photo by Thomas Nola-Rion