Reviews - USA

Atlanta Ballet – New Choreographic Voices

Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Atlanta, GA
Saturday, March 23 2013

By Deborah Searle.

Atlanta Ballet’s New Choreographic Voices was a showcase of diverse and delightful contemporary ballet. Highlighting three bold works from three of the world’s leading and emerging choreographers, New Choreographic Voices challenged the dancers as well as the audience.

The evening opened with Rush by Christopher Wheeldon. Recently appointed as Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet, Wheeldon is one of my favorite choreographers, so I was excited to see Atlanta Ballet present an encore performance of this work. With the dancers mostly in shades of red, purple and amber the work presented beauty in simplicity. The ballet was certainly challenging for the dancers and there was nothing simple about the steps, but they were all combined and artfully presented in a wonderfully effortless charade.

Atlanta Ballet's New Choreographic Voices

Jonah Hooper, Nadia Mara and Miguel Montoya in Gina Patterson’s ‘I AM.’ Photo by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

With just a blue scrim as the backdrop the dancers’ work was clean, crisp and performed with perfection. Wheeldon explored interesting arm lines, partnering, patterning and cannons. At times the work was busy, but never messy, and always flawless. It was a floating flurry of color and beauty.

A pas de deux by Abigail Tan-Gamino and Jonah Hooper was a highlight. It was not terribly romantic or passionate, but there was something exquisite about their lines and the shapes they created. As the music grew more dramatic the dance became more desperate and I inched closer to edge of my seat.

Next we were treated to a world premiere. I AM by Gina Patterson was transportive. Patterson’s work always reaches beyond and resonates. I AM spoke of searching for who we really are; shedding our outer layers and facades to embrace our inner self. With clever use of grey coats and nude leotards and undergarments the dancers covered up and/or exposed their true natures on and off throughout the work. Do we use relationships to hide who we really are? In relationships are we really ourselves? The work asked so many questions within a tapestry of stunning, expressive dance with a feminine fluidity.

Atlanta Ballet NCV

Nadia Mara and John Welker in Gina Patterson’s ‘I AM.’ Photo by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Beautiful gestural canons and melting movements, all danced to entrancing music, took my breath away. Through partnerships we saw a myriad of feelings: love, giddy joy, rejection, sadness, confidence and discovery. I AM was a triumph and the audience was obviously appreciative of Patterson’s mesmeric work and the dancers’ skillful presentation of it.

Changing moods completely, the evening closed with Ohad Naharin’s improvisational, ingenious Minus 16. The renowned Israeli choreographer, who is known for his signature free movement style called ‘Gaga’, presented Minus 16 as the first work of his three-year, three-work collaboration with Atlanta Ballet.

So as not to give the work away, I won’t tell you much, except that Minus 16 is a treat! I was thoroughly entertained and reminded of the joy of dance. Atlanta Ballet’s talented cast seemed to relish in the fun of it and took us all on an exuberant exploration of movement. Several audience members even experienced the work first hand!

Minus 16 is a must see. It left everyone in the theatre on a dance ‘high’. I can’t wait to see what Naharin has in store for Atlanta Ballet next season.

The three dance works presented in New Choreographic Voices were all very different, yet thrilling, highlighting the versatility and many strengths of Atlanta Ballet’s gifted troupe of dancers.

Photo (top): Atlanta Ballet performing Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16. Photo by C. McCullers.

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