Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 26, 2019

REVIEW: Jacob’s Pillow, Ballet BC

Jacob’s Pillow, Becket, MA
through August 25, 2019
by Karoun Charkoudian

On the opening week of Jacob’s Pillow’s 87th season, Ballet BC, an internationally acclaimed collaborative and creation-based contemporary ballet company, did not disappoint. Ballet BC danced three distinctive pieces all delivered with precision and grace.

Photo by Michael Slobodian
The Sunday matinee began with “Bedroom Folk,” choreographed by Isreali Sharon Eyal. Bedroom folk opened with harsh, almost tribal, beats and dramatic top-lighting, and the tension stayed high through to the end. The lighting cast intense shadows across the faces and the bodies of the dancers as all 14 of them swayed across the stage, together as one. The heavy beats thumped without ceasing and the performance was fluid from beginning to end. Here and there, one dancer did spin off on their own rhythm, however the troupe mostly stayed together in unity through the sensual and dark scenes portraying both love and aggression. After the final beat of this piece, members of the audience audibly exhaled.

“To this day” choreographed by Emily Molnar in collaboration with Ballet BC artists, varied dramatically from the first -- a street dance set to the riffs of Jimmy Hendrix’s electric guitar. The dancers were clad in Tshirts and jeans in bold primary colors. The men who danced early in the piece captured the persona perfectly of street dancer meets break dancer meets 80s rock guitarist. Pockets of side-lighting suggestive of street-lights just off stage, and haze shrouded the stage, which set up a foggy, misty evening. The street dancing theme continued throughout, though many dancers couldn’t quite leave their contemporary dancer/ballerina selves behind!

In “Petite Ceremonie” choreographed by Medhi Walerski, the dancers were clad in gala attire – tuxes and black silky dresses. White bright lighting pervaded the entire stage. Amidst a beautiful dance, the troupe interspersed comedic gesticulations suggestive of petty drama at a black-tie affair. Dancers split into pairs– covering ears, rolling on the ground, one controlling the other, amidst sensual embraces. Towards the end the dancers spread out around the stage, and interspersed stillness with wild gesticulation, waving of arms and legs, all to a very loud and intense playing of Vivaldi’s Winter (by far the best music to dance pairing of the afternoon).  

At the conclusion of the program, the dancers stood and bowed to a standing ovation. Their precision and intensity that was delivered throughout the entire performance captured the audience and that showed.