The recently established ProArteDanza pliéed, leapt and dashed across the boards of the David S. Howes Theatre Saturday night for a couple of sets that had something for ‘most everyone.
Tantalizingly brief, classic solos by featured artists Rex Harrington and Evelyn Hart were in stark contrast to the first half’s contemporary offerings, yet all combined to demonstrate the power of movement and music to reach into the soul no matter what the era or style.
Robert Glumbek’s Still was a fascinating study in woman/man relationships where Johanna Bergfeldt successfully scaled the wide-range of isolation, despair, pain and—finally—resolution. Glumbek carried his burden both metaphorically and literally with ease. Unforgettable was their mechanical separation that spoke volumes about being puppets of love.
Not even the unexpected disappearance of Jessye Norman’s dulcet tones could prevent Harrington’s For Rex from filling the eye with his marvellous extensions and fluid introspection. His personification of true legato should be required viewing for conductors everywhere: imagine the musical renaissance that would result!
The success of Glumbek and artistic director Roberto Campanella’s collaboration for Unfinished 32 stems from their frequent association as both creators and dancers. The result is a Brokeback ballet for the twenty-first century in which the two couples engage in foibles, fun and fatigue of life. The unidentified score (like Still) is more soundscape than composition but serves the movement well. The use of panting as part of the piece both humanizes and truly realizes the effort of all concerned in coming to terms with their choices.
From Evelyn Hart’s effortless entrance to her character’s escape from the planet, Saint-Saëns’ minor masterpiece was rendered with affective sympathy that matched the unknown cellist’s unerring bow.
Of the contemporary works, Glumbek’s Contemplation of Betrayal was the highlight. The ensemble (Glumbek joined by Bergfeldt and Danielle Denichaud) dove into the exploration of treachery, lechery and willful blindness with energy and enthusiasm that was infectious. The frantic comings and leavings were tellingly balanced by moments of reflection only to be rekindled when a course of action has been decided. Who will forget the moment when the wayward lover is truly walked all over?! Score one for the women, both of whom brought savvy athleticism and stamina to every scene.
Unlike a setting of, say, Pachabel’s Canon, the second helping of the tune “Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet,” was already one too many—much less the thousands of repetitions yet to come. Despite the fantastic imagery (from the fetal position to a Frankenstein monster reach), Campanella and Glumbek’s spectacular tumble, rise to the shoulders and saucy wave couldn’t come soon enough.
Decorum E brought Hart and Harrington back out to close the show. Inspired by Arvo Pärt’s beautifully textured score, the pair delivered a master class on team work in the cause of drama. Stepping in and out of the circle of life, they generated a deep emotional reaction to their incredible grace and form (Harrington’s lifts: magnificent). Not even some unknowing voices which seeped out of the lobby could destroy the charged atmosphere.
The surprise of the night was the number of empty seats. Those who have admired these dancers from afar in other cavernous venues missed an incredible opportunity of savouring their art, just a few feet away. A return visit will remedy that! JWR