Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 24, 2013

Dance Theatre of Harlem

Jacob’s Pillow Dance, Becket, MA
through June 23, 2013
by Amy Meek

Jacob’s Pillow has begun another season filled with diverse, thought-provoking dance companies and works.  Dance Theatre of Harlem was the first to grace the Ted Shawn Theatre for the summer.  This historical ballet company gave a varied performance showcasing a real blend of styles.  The weekend’s performances also kicked off the Lift Ev’ry Voice Festival, a collaboration between various community venues celebrating African-American heritage and culture.

The first work, Agon, showcased the neoclassical ballet style made famous by George Balanchine.  This difficult piece was a combination of solos, duets, trios, and quartets which interplayed with the music, creating many classical shapes in a flurry of activity.   This ensemble displayed a distinctive muscular energy, which is not always seen in some traditional Balanchine dancers.  The music by Igor Stravinsky highlighted the complexity and sensuality of the choreography.

The Black Swan Pas de Deux was the second piece in the program.  This section from the ballet Swan Lake is always a treat to watch because of the exciting feats of technique from the male and female dancer.  Michaela Deprince and Samuel Wilson were spot-on with their execution of the steps.  Deprince finished the thirty-two fouettes, which characterize the Black Swan’s solo, with ease.  They also displayed artistry as well as excellent technique.

The last two pieces, The Lark Ascending, choreographed by the famous Alvin Ailey, and Return, a work set to music by James Brown and Aretha Franklin, further exemplified the range of the company’s repertoire.  The first of these was filled with beautiful movements, costumes and music, whereas the second piece was sassy and and humorous.  The Dance Theatre of Harlem gave a wonderful performance and started out the Jacob’s Pillow season with a bang!