Tulsa Ballet Review: Creations Reimagined
November 6, 2020 | Digital
I’m just going to start by saying that Tulsa Ballet is doing it right.
In what way?
I’m glad you asked.
Firstly, streaming Creations Reimagined direct in real time from the company’s on-site Studio K Theater is a brilliant way to allow those of us not in Tulsa to witness first-hand the excitement of attending a live performance in the intimacy of this 300-seat venue. This annual program, traditionally titled Creations in Studio K, is dedicated solely to the development of new works; and although I have no prior experiences to compare to, this year’s reimagined version in particular is one not to be missed.
Which segues into the other reason how the company is at the top of the game. Despite of – or perhaps thanks to – the challenges faced by the pandemic, the Tulsa Ballet team of dancers, choreographers, artistic and executive leaders has managed to maintain exceptional standards.
In one of the “intermissions”, we become privy to the the amount of attention, detail, and care that the costume shop is employing – disinfectants, gloves, arm and face shields, N95 masks – to protect the staff. And speaking of masks, the dancers are wearing them in all three works on this program; and they are, surprisingly, not a distraction. In fact they serve to prove, with creative choreography and talented dancers, just how powerful and necessary corporal and ocular expression are.
The curtain opens to a dynamic solo male dancer (this seems to be a trend of late – Pacific Northwest Ballet and Sarasota Ballet began their first programs of this season the same way) and we are immediately captivated as lighting dynamics evolve, Haushka’s music pulses, and more dancers appear on the stage. Yury Yanowsky’s Hindrance gives each of the six dancers a moment to shine but more significantly showcases the beauty of collaborative effort; the collective energy and physical coordination are at a consistent high throughout the piece.
There is common thread between Hindrance and To the End, Resident Choreographer Ma Cong‘s contribution to this evening; both pieces are motivated by the ever-changing challenges, emotions, and circumstances that the human race is facing at the moment. Yet in contrast to the rhythmic pace of the opener, there is a more introspective confusion that Cong introduces as his dancers shift from pensive wandering to urgent running. Out of a weaving series of pas de deux, solo, and ensemble passages results a calm culmination represented by lit candles lining the downstage border of the stage. We are left with hope as the artists exit in tranquility.
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa‘s Limoncello flips the first two thirds of the evening on its end. Distinctly, the more angst driven emotion of its predecessors is replaced in this piece with an energy born from a more quirky, surreal, and comical place. For the grand majority of the time, all the dancers hold a lemon in each of their hands – “If life gives you lemons, make limoncello”, advises Lopez Ochoa – which when held up to their eyes suggest that this is an adage by which one can choose to view the world.
The cast, donned in red socks and skin color masks with painted red lips, move and mime expertly to Australian C. W. Stoneking’s jazzy, calypso musical backdrop. Combined, these elements evoke fleeting mental vignettes of 1920s and 30s artistic influences – Kahlo, Dali, Hemmingway, Fitzgerald – which makes for an entertaining way to close the show.
Tulsa Ballet’s Creations Reimagined program runs through November 22; the November 14 and 22 shows are also available streaming. For more information about the program, check out the calendar below.
And read the recently released news about The Lost Nutcracker, this year’s holiday production.
Featured Photo for Tulsa Ballet Review: Making Limoncello in an Otherwise Sober World of Madalina Stoica and Arman Zazyan in Ma Cong’s To the End © Tulsa Ballet
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