James Connell attended Encore presented BalletBC and the PuSh festival on Friday, Jan 25th. Hear Artistic Director Emily Molnar speak about the shows on the January 23rd episode of the Arts Report!
BC Ballet’s production of Encore three pieces from the Ballet BC repetoire, directed by Emily Molnar and Branislav Henselmann, with each act standing alone by way of challenging choreography, peculiar sets and distinctive music.
The first piece, which was choreographed by William Forsythe and entitled Herman Schmerman, was the odd one out. I don’t know why, but I always have to go to the bathroom for the duration of any show, despite going immediately before the show begins. It has almost become a custom at this point to squirm in my seat with the lower half of my body wishing the show to end and the upper half of my body holding out for the show to continue. Perhaps it was the excitement of the night, or the anticipation of the performance but I’m fairly sure the cocktails had something to do with it.
Now when speaking to Ms. Molnar before the show, she insisted that every emotion felt during the show was productive and that I should pay attention to those feelings. So I hope you don’t think I’m being crass; on the contrary, I’m fully exploring the sensations the first act instilled.
Herman Schmerman contained both a quintet and a duet with movement that was awkward and jerky at times, like fish caught in a net. I was both confused at the dialogue between the dancers and hopeful that it would break into something pleasant before my bladder insides exploded. After all, if you’re going to risk an internal haemorrhage for the sake of art, it better be damn good. The music was an a-melodic space circus rave composition that was frustrating, with pings and pongs that seemed to punch my bladder. I was utterly confused to say the least and I sure as hell didn’t get it. As soon as the first photon of house light hit my retina I sprinted to the bathroom where I overheard two gentlemen in a similar state of chagrin.
The second piece entitled 1st Flash (video at Balletbc.com), choreographed by Jorma Elo, rekindled my faith. It soon became clear that the act was named after the silver track pants the gentleman we wearing. The lyrical movement was so pleasing yet it was unpredictable and awkward at times, but in a easily forgiven way. The act included Gilbert Small who was spell bounding and who stole my focus every time he was on stage. The dancers went from unique solos and independent movements into synchronicity before I could catch up with them. I found myself smiling wider and wider and audibly gasping with joy at the outstanding spectacle. It ended far too quickly and before I knew it I was headed to the bathroom again, but this time in a much better mood. My dear reader, the greatest part of a show in three sets is the two intermissions.
Petite Cérémonie (video at Balletbc.com), choreographed by Medhi Walerski, absolutely stole my heart away. The dancers, around 15 of them, were dressed in chic evening clothes; the men in black suits and the ladies in little black dresses. The stage began naked, without any curtains and the visceral organs of the backstage exposed. One by one as the dancers slowly came out the layers of curtains were lowered dressing the stage for a night out. The dance was beautifully eloquent yet playful with bits of comedy intertwined with wondrous joy. It was very original in the way the used the dancers voices as sound effects, there was yelling, and chit chat, and a monologue even at one point. It looked like the funnest ball ever! I could not stop smiling, not even for one moment. The movements resonated with something inside me that caused the dance to change from individual movements of individual dancers into a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts. The rhythm oscillated with that intangible indescribable piece of our being that we always keep to ourselves and rarely share with others. This ballet pulled it out of its hiding spot and put it on stage in a suit with a smile on its face and said, “Voila!” It ended in a rapturous standing ovation and it wasn’t until later, when I was walking out in a state of euphoria, that I realized I had forgotten to go to the bathroom.