Ballet BC in Artistic Director Emily Molnar’s “To this day”
It’s difficult to remember a more stunning opening to a Jacob’s Pillow season than Ballet BC. The company wowed audience on Wednesday night with its triple-bill of dances that emphasized its unity and defined its as a most connected group of artists.
They move and breath, flock and fly in precise formations with an intensity that kept audience riveted every second. This is no exaggeration.
The audience-wide awe began with Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s “Bedroom Folk.” The curtain opened on the 14-member cast pressed together in two rows, stepping lightly in place and staring straight ahead. The white light, designed by Theirry Dreyfus, beamed down from above and threw eerie shadows over their faces and legs. They looked like a heartless, mindless brigade that was under constant interrogation.
The industrial soundscape by Ori Lichtik pounded and enhanced the sense that this was the post-apocalyptic world where monotony and oppression dehumanized. And I could not look away.
The dancers, moved around the stage like this, with only occasional bursts of individuality – but they always returned to the group formation. Their jarring movement, especially the cocking of their head and flapping, was avian. Other times, the dancers were smooth, swirling their torso, but most of the movement was not meant to be pretty – just controlled; and their rendering of such was spotless.
This theme of harmonized dancing extended through to Artistic Director Emily Molnar’s “To this day” and Medhi Walerski’s “Petite Ceremonie.”
“To this day” was a psychedelic trip back to the 1960s with songs by Jimi Hendrix. On a smoky stage and a corner illuminated by a vertical row of stage lights that shot out at the audience, the dance is a homage to the time period.
The dancers, in colorful jeans and tops, tore up the stage to “Once I Had a Woman,” Voodoo Chile Blues” and “Born Under A Bad Sign.” Breaking out in solos, duets, etc., the dancers also held firm together, reaching for the sky with one arm as if seeking to touch the bluesy riffs of the guitar god. Mainly, however, the pluck and slide of the strings was what propelled the choreography and the dancers to a hyper-hallucinatory state.
The final piece showed this amazing troupe also can move props as precisely as their bodies. “Petite Ceremonie” started with muted operatic music and dancers – this time donning formal black-tie for the men and cocktail dresses for the women – stepping precisely in line. This time, however, they pushed and posed atop large white blocks that they eventually stacked for a celebratory final pose to Vivaldi’s “Winter.”
The ta-da finish sent the audience to its feet. It was a well-deserved ovation for a fine company that I would recommend highly. They will remain at the Pillow through Saturday. Go if you are able.