Chevalier Ballet performs "Ballet Meets the Beatles."
I have a rule. I don’t review student companies.
But adults who choreograph for these students, and charge money to see them, are fair game.
Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have gone to “Ballet Meets the Beatles” had I known it was nonprofessionals dancing. That said, I was at The Egg on Saturday night watching Chevalier Ballet, a company devoted to providing up-and-coming dancers with a professional touring experience. (The ensemble of 10 is also set to be the resident company of the yet-to-be-opened and newly renovated The Strand Theatre in Hudson Falls. Thus, there will be plenty of chances to see the company in the coming months and years.)
Certainly, the idea for Saturday’s show was a good one. Who doesn’t love the Beatles? And who would recoil from listening to a suite of the band’s lovable and pop tunes? Very few.
But the choreography to go along with the beloved music was disappointing and sometimes embarrassing – not because of the dancers – but because the choreographer, Artistic Director Sara Knight and others, missed opportunity after opportunity to tap into stories or the sentiment that made these songs so meaningful to the world.
The music, as played by Across the Pond, was well-done. The thing I liked about this group is they didn’t pretend to be John, Paul, George and Ringo. There were no costumes and wigs – just a group of five musicians (some with gray in their hair) and an electric string quartet that delivered songs such “Here Comes the Sun”,” “When I’m 64,” “Strawberry Fields” and “Yesterday” with reverence.
But most of the dozen dances inspired by songs like “Penny Lane,” “Something” and “With a Little Help from My Friends” made me cringe. I wanted the songs to be over as quickly as possible because I couldn’t bear the dance. For example, how can one choreograph a piece about friendship when the three dances perform the same moves separately – as if they didn’t know each other or have anything in common beyond the movement, which, incidentally, did not reflect the song.
The problem was much of the choreography looked like a ballet class exercises or a cheerleading routine. The steps had little or nothing to do with the music – it simply followed its rhythms for pirouettes or grand battements in unison.
Not all of the dances were like this. “Blackbird,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “I Am the Walrus” tapped into the era and the psychedelic sensibility of the music. But it was too little, too late to rescue the program.
“Ballet Meets the Beatles” is a fantastic idea. This could be a big show with an arena following. But the dances need an almost complete overhaul. Otherwise, “Ballet Meets the Beatles” is a monotonous dance recital with good music.