Oakland Ballet – Diaghilev Imagery
You know that feeling when you come out of a good performance – feet lighter, talk brighter. That was what I experienced coming out of the Oakland Ballet Company’s Diaghilev Imagery. Three works – three choreographers – Amy Seiwert, Robert Moses and Graham Lustig.
Amy Seiwert gave her dancers plenty to do with her fresh take on Les Biches – from Emily Kerr’s lighthearted dressing for her party, through the sophisticated posturing of her guests prancing, and a charming playful intrusion by Sharon Wehner as the “Girl Not in Blue”. The women in their floating, summery dresses play out their competition, while the men clearly enjoy the slightly better odds afforded to them by “Girl Not in Blue”. They were skilled in their paring, fluid in their lifts and Amy let them use the whole stage. Everyone of them a joy to see – Bryan Ketron, Constant Murphy, Megan Terry, Gregory DeSantis, Christopher Moulton.
Bloom, choreographed by Robert Moses surprised me with it’s sense of a woman. It’s a take on Le Spectre de la Rose and it’s a relief not to have the male dancer bound in from the window. Ramona, alone, seems to be sleeping and as she awakes – her sense of self slowly awakes. In a stunning piece of artistry, Vincent Chavez materializes behind her. The initiation is mostly on her part, he tenderly enfolds her – and in the end he fades into the shadow as she comes to rest on rose petals.
Pulcinella, is a commedia dell’arte romp that brings the evening to a close. Graham Lustig’s choice of music to accompany his choreography was perfect . The Pulcinella Suite – unbelievably by Stravinsky – with short sung phrases added not only musicality but ambiance. The costumes and masks were based on the original designs of the era. The signs flashed above the stage giving titles to the action were a delightful addition. Pretty much the whole cast enters on stage with suitcases – a clever bit of staging – Gregory Desantis as the original Pulcinella, Vincent Chavez and Bryan Ketron as the two impostors, Ana Robles, Sharon Whener, Ramona Kelly and Constanza Murphy are the lively girls, Emily Kerr and Christophor Moulton play the old parental characters so well that I had to look closely to see their youth, and Cole Companion who rises to great heights and provides a satisfying finale.
The whole evening is so fresh and delightful that it took away the bad taste in my mouth left from Sunday’s Cinderella in San Francisco.
Oakland Ballet Company’s spring repertory production, Diaghilev Imagery is at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts (Alice Street, just off 14th Street) and will be playing this weekend – Saturday 5/11 at 2:00 and 8:00. Tickets are reasonable at $35 general, $30 seniors, and $20 students 17 and under or college students with ID.