When FENUXE asked me to review The Atlanta Ballet’s New Choreographic Voices, I must admit, I was more than a little apprehensive. It’s like asking Honey Boo Boo to critique “War and Peace.” I am at best a novice when it comes to dance and as a writer, too. But FENUXE said they wanted my opinion, so here it is. Admittedly, I had a preconceived notion this production would be “modern” and maybe hard to understand for a simple girl like myself. I thought this might be a “dancer’s evening” that might not feel accessible to the average Joe. Boy was I wrong!!
I’m telling you now, RUN, don’t walk to see this production!!! This is by far the most moving evening of dance I’ve ever seen!!! I’m not kidding. I openly wept during the second act. More on that in a moment.
The first piece, “Rush,” choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon was a neo-classical piece, as I was informed by my dance graduate friend Darcy. The dance was bright, energetic, frenetic at times, and innovative without feeling contrived. The music reminded me of “Oklahoma” and “West Side Story” all at the same time. I was especially moved by the Jonah Hooper and Abigail Tan-Gamino duet, which was simple yet intricate, tender, and absolutely beautiful.
The second piece, “I Am,” choreographed by Gina Patterson was the biggest surprise of the evening for me. I am not the type to be at a loss for words, but all I know is I cried as I watched this piece. I have never cried watching dance, EVER! But I did watching this piece. Everything came together beautifully. The synergy between choreography, dancers, music, costumes, and set were undeniable. It felt effortless. What moved me most was the vulnerability the dancers were able to convey in their movement. Simply breathtaking!! At the end of the evening, I had the chance to hear Patterson speak about her process putting this piece together. I was not surprised to learn she worked closely with each dancer to showcase their strengths as it relates to the story. You owe it to yourself to see this just for this piece alone! I hope to see it again very soon!
The final piece, “Minus 16,” choreographed by Ohad Naharin was all around fun. In a strange way it reminded me of a Japanese fashion show mixed with bouts of frenetic dancing and even audience participation. I really enjoyed this piece. It started with 30 or so dancers dressed a la Michael Jackson and a compelling beat that draws the viewer into the dance. From there, the journey was unexpected yet compelling. A must see!
Kudos to John McFall and the Atlanta Ballet team for the putting together the most entertaining evening of dance I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience.
Love and lashes,
Mary Edith Pitts
To purchase tickets to New Choreographic Voices, visit the Atlanta Ballet’s website. Saturday night performances are NiteOUT at the Ballet, special for the LGBT community.