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The splatter of color on the men’s shirts and women’s leotards, as in a bouquet of wildflowers, gave Seiwert’s cool, organic movements and architecture the heat of a well-designed garden, though the bathing tank-style leotards for the women (designed by Sandra Woodall) made them appear shorter than they are. The designer’s concentration of color on the dancers’ torsos, though, was inspired. And Brian Jones’ lighting for this work added a wonderful luminosity to the action.
Choreographer Ma Cong’s “French Twist,” which opened the evening at the Dean Lesher Theater in Walnut Creek, was catchy and athletic, if predictable, Conjuring up the punchy athleticism and pop sensuality of ODC and Twyla Tharp, “French Twist” flowed from devilish couplings — multiple duets, male quartets and large ensembles — that slurped and exploded, Susan Roemer pointe shoe maker salary and Weston Krukow gave “French Twist” its keen edge, While physically clever, fast moving and cheeky, the movement was not helped by the decor — a pale gray drop with triangles, squares and rounds reminiscent of children’s building blocks, which drained the stage of color, Noir fog further blurred any sense of time and place, and the costumes, featuring white button-down shirts, undercut the cartoon sensibility of the steps, The music, by Hugues Le Bars, only confused the picture further, making it seem as if this gray dance should have been in Technicolor..
Company dancer and budding choreographer Ben Needham-Wood premiered “Maslow,” which he dedicated to Abraham Maslow, the noted psychologist, and his concept of human potential. Set to an original score by Ben Sollee, this work is essentially a New Yorker-style cartoon depiction of a man’s search for self. Had “Maslow” come first in the program, rather than third, it might have mattered less that the protagonist (Robert Kretz) doesn’t actually locate his potential, but does find an entire crowd in his psyche.
Michael Smuin’s “Bouquet” (1981) offered a bit of pointe shoe maker salary classicism with music by Shostakovich, But on the same program with Seiwert’s “Broken Open,” it felt pointless, “Open” was not perfect, but its visual, kinesthetic and musical aliveness made it the sister who, dressed in Prada, makes her plainly dressed siblings look shabby, The logic of leaving the best dance for last, so audiences will remain captive and be enticed to return for the next program, works sometimes — especially when the program is balanced, But Dance Series One lacks that balance, and some tinkering with the lineup could perhaps make all the works shine brighter..
Introduced by the conductorless string orchestra under music director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, the program also included music by American composer Jennifer Higdon and Estonia’s Arvo Pärt. But Thursday’s performance — the first of four in various Bay Area venues — kept its gaze primarily focused on the great Russian masters. Of course, it helps to have a glamorous guest artist on hand to transform an opening concert into a special event. With soprano Ailyn Perez as vocal soloist, Thursday’s program –which launched the ensemble’s 24th season — yielded the kind of performances that make the leap from the stylish to the sublime. This was especially true in the program’s centerpiece, a performance of Tatiana’s “Letter” aria from Tchaikovsky’s opera “Eugene Onegin.” Perez — who made an indelible impression as Violetta in San Francisco Opera’s 2014 production of “La Traviata” — once again combined vocal luster, emotional expressiveness and dazzling top notes in a performance of considerable dramatic urgency. The orchestra played beautifully, with Salerno-Sonnenberg and cellist Isaac Melamed making eloquent contributions.
Perez also sounded gorgeous in Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise,” delivering the composer’s “song without words” in an exquisite reading, Originally composed for voice and piano, Rachmaninoff’s orchestral version featured first-rate playing by Salerno-Sonnenberg and the ensemble, who supplied their soloist with lush, enveloping accompaniment, The evening’s other highlight was the orchestra’s performance of Shostakovich’s “Elegy and Polka.” Consisting of excerpts from two of the composer’s works for the stage — the elegy from the opera “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” and the polka from the ballet “The Golden Age” — the score is richly varied and full of character, Salerno-Sonnenberg led her musicians through a delightful performance, playing the elegy with plenty of gravitas; the bumptious polka followed, served up with plenty of pointe shoe maker salary good humor and rustic charm..
Three short works by Higdon also made a strong impression. The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer has been much in the news lately, with her new opera, “Cold Mountain,” having made its world premiere at Santa Fe Opera last month. As the ensemble’s featured composer this year, she’ll return to New Century later in the season with another new work. “Strings,” a fast and fleet excerpt from her Concerto for Orchestra, launched this set on a flurry of pizzicato strings; “String Lake,” a movement from her “All Things Majestic,” captured the beauty and grandeur of a scenic spot in Grand Teton National Park. “To the Point,” excerpted from Higdon’s string quartet “Impressions,” is inspired by the French Impressionist painters, and the orchestra gave it an appropriately colorful, virtuosic performance.
The program pointe shoe maker salary opened with Pärt’s “Trisagion,” a 15-minute score for strings inspired by Byzantine liturgy, Like much of the Estonian composer’s work, it registers as somber, weighty, prayerful and luminous, and the orchestra, playing it with fierce concentration, made a strong case for it, At the end of the evening, the New Century players returned with an encore by another great Russian — the simply-titled “Polka” by Alfred Schnittke, It capped the program with a burst of exhilarating sound, one that featured Salerno-Sonnenberg and principal violist Anna Kruger weaving their solo parts in a vivacious dance..