Wow, so these guys:
are AMAZING!!! If you happen to see that they are coming to a city near you, go see them!
Of course, this is the kind of ballet I really love. Not that I don’t love classical, because I do. But I also love to see people turn it on its head: take the rules, break them, and then play by the rules again. The eight dancers in this group have an incredible amount of technique, skill, and talent. I loved watching their movements: amazing lifts, group choreography that flowed from one dancer to the next, and a good dose of humor mixed in. They threw themselves into every dance, but always appeared in control. Such an inspiration, I tell ya.
They performed four different pieces when I saw them: Chopin Studies, Gamelan (the world premier!), Body Puzzle, and excerpts from Made in America. There was a commonality among them, but each piece had its own personality. James Sewell himself spoke to the audience before the works and told us that there wasn’t necessarily a story to go with each piece, so not to stress out if we couldn’t follow along with a plot. Ha! He came back out before his solo piece, Body Puzzle, to do a little audience exercise where we tried the whole patting ourselves on the head while rubbing our stomachs and other similar things. I was glad he did that because it made Body Puzzle all the more amazing (that’s basically the premise for that piece, i.e. one arm will be moving smoothly while the other is simultaneously making jerky movements… hard to do!).
I clearly won’t make it as a dance critic because I didn’t note enough to give you a detailed breakdown of each piece, I was just so mesmerized. I wish I had an opportunity to do more of this sort of ballet! But it certainly makes getting up (relatively) early on a Saturday to get in a ballet class before rehearsal seem all the more appealing!
I used this performance as an opportunity to assign “homework” per Dave’s (of “Dave Tries Ballet”) suggestion. I sent out the information about this performance (which included the video clip above) to the people in class I just started teaching and invited them to join me. One of my students (and the artistic director of our company/school) came to see it with me. She is one of my younger students and seemed to really enjoy the experience. I remember what it meant to have my 8th grade ballet teacher (the first time I took “real” ballet) cancel class one night so that we could instead go to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I was so blown away. It was my first real experience with modern dance and I was in awe of their beauty, power, and strength. I wanted to be able to move people that way with my dancing. To be able to share a similar experience with a new generation of dancers/artists is a joy. And to share it with the person I first learned modern dance from (the aforementioned artistic director) was equally enjoyable. Felt like I’d come full circle in a way.
So, yes, James Sewell Ballet, highly recommend! Go see them!