The energy that the title of Ballet Arizona’s digital program references is both understated and amplified in the two works presented; The Sleeping Beauty conveys the more conservative spirit of tradition while Abrazo is a physical expression of vitality.
Although it is not unusual to watch excerpts from classical ballets sans sets, something about taking the Prologue of The Sleeping Beauty out of regal context feels lacking.
Plus, there is a serenity to this scene of Christening the baby Aurora that does not read well through the dancers’ masks. This is in no way their fault as safety – obviously – needs to come first during this precarious time. The result, though, is what appears as expressionless fairies conveying at times indifference rather than elegance. Who knew there was such a fine line between the two?
Which leads me to wonder if, at a time when dancers’ faces must be partially covered, choosing repertory that leans more toward control than abandon is such a prudent choice. And perhaps this is why new works being created during what will certainly be classified as a turning point in dance history must rely even more heavily on the purpose of the corporal shapes and figures being made.
Case proven is company dancer and choreographer Nayon Iovino’s Abrazo.
Even the music choice – a series of tango-infused jazz tracks from Vincent Peirani & Emile Parisien’s album of the same name – conveys a sense of restlessness and discovery prevalent in our current state of affairs. Iovino’s work mirrors these qualities most poignant in a section where dancers explore moving in what is typically an intimate ballroom stance without actually touching each other.
The men of Ballet Arizona – as I also observed in their Nutcracker performance – are beautifully strong, especially Helio Lima and Serafín Castro. The former is suitably showcased throughout Abrazo, memorably in a pas de deux with Tiffany Chatfield who is an equally engaging force to be reckoned with. Yet it would be wonderful to see Castro given a spotlight that brightens the one he naturally creates with his talent.
Ballet Arizona’s ENERGY was performed live at Dorrance Theatre last month and is available to view online today only.