Monday, September 6, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra: Joffrey Ballet

Reflections (choreographed by Gearld Arpino; music: Tchaikovsky)
Age of Innocence (chor. Edwaard Liang; music: Glass and Newman)
Tarantella (chor. Blanchine, music: Gottschalk)
Pass de deux from Le Corsaire (chor. Petipa, music: Dingo)
Pretty BALLET (chor. Kudelka, music: Martinu)
Tito Munoz, conductor.

Tonight's performance was attended with my friend* and her friend; before making our way to Blossom we visited Sarah's Vineyard -- just a little south of Blossom and literally across the street -- for some food and wine. It was the first time for all three of us, and I think all of us thoroughly enjoyed the food and conversation.

Making our way across the street and into a packed pavilion we were treated to a pleasant evening of dance. Without the distraction of technical elements noted at some earlier performances -- here, the spotlight work was without reproach, and the audio amplification when used nearly transparent -- it was thoroughly enjoyable. The great thing about dance with live music is that you have stimulation for both visual and auditory senses; while my friend noted that she wished she could see the effort the orchestra was contributing to the work, as is possible when they are on stage, and oddly, as I had noted in my brief comment on last year's performance (it's near the bottom, notibly one of my first posts), the dancers provide a more fluid, and in Cleveland, less often experienced, representation of that effort.

Discussing the performance on the way back north, one topic surfaced that we all agreed on: As the program progressed, the company seemed to develop some synchronization issues where it seemed that some dancers would randomly arrive at a point noticeably before or after the rest of the troupe.

The first dance on the card, Reflections, featuring Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, was beautifully played by the orchestra, with particular note to newly-appointed principal cellist Mark Kosower, however the dance was a bit dark for my taste.

Following Reflections, Age of Innocence finished out the first half and was brighter musically and metaphorically. Featuring the music of Philip Glass (the 2nd movement from his 3rd symphony, The Poet Acts from The Hours, 3rd movement from the 3rd symphony, music from The Secret Agent) and Thomas Newman (End Title from The Little Children) had a variety of textures, and was inspired by the social dancing found in Jane Austen's novels. Age of Innocence was my favorite piece from the program.

After intermission, a piece that felt very familiar: Balanchine's Tarantella. It wasn't until after I returned home that I realized not only have I seen this dance before, I've seen it in the past month: It was on the program for Verb Ballets' Cain Park Performance in early August. Given the almost ethereal nature of dance it's odd to me, and I had in fact never considered the possibility, of seeing the same dance performed by two different companies. Joffrey had a decided advantage with a live orchestra, and Tarantella was the favorite of the other members of my group.

In the middle of the second half was Pas de Deux from Le Corsaire. I'm not sure how I feel about this one and there was some disagreement among my group about who the players in the dance were: While the title of the piece is The Pirate it is unclear who the dancers were representing and the ballet notes do nothing to help resolve this ambiguity: The best guess that my group could arrive at is prince and princess, but as an extract from The Pirate... I'm also curious about the 'new music' added to the ballet.

Wrapping up the program was Pretty BALLET featuring Martinu's Symphony No. 2. -- since the music was premiered by our own Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall in 1943, I desperately wanted to be able to call this my favorite; in the end I couldn't. Aside from the synchronization issue I mentioned earlier, there was nothing wrong with the dance or the music, but the combination didn't really captivate me.

In the end: A nice evening of music collaborating with dance; I hope that such collaborations will be embraced and extended in the future.


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