The opening season of the Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary’s Los Angeles Ballet (LAB) 2021-2022 on The Broad Stage was a major growth spurt for the company. It showed the strength of the fe/male dancers, and an excellent inclusion of new blood into the company.
With a trio of creations that whet the appetite, from George Balanchine’s classic Apollo sandwiched between two brilliant works by contemporary choreographers, Christopher Wheeldon’s Ghosts, and the evening’s namesake, and rightfully so, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s, Bloom treated the audience to an excellent and in some cases transcendent theatrical experience.
Beginning with Wheeldon’s choice of composers, the progressive, heavy and glam metal, hard rock musician Kip Winger, created a surprisingly lilting and haunting piece for Wheeldon’s ethereal Ghosts. So reminiscent of Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, the music’s four subtle themes supported Wheeldon’s own musicality and created a dance fugue that he muses “are suggestions of community, perhaps ghosts of a Titanic-like sea accident.” Iridescent lighting by Mary Louise Geiger executed by Tyler Lamber-Perkins made the adroit, often complicated, choreography shimmer. It is backed up beautifully by the well-rehearsed corps dancers, Mackenzie Byrne, Cassidy Cocke, Hannah Keene, Santiago Paniagua, Marcos Ramirez, Lucas Segovia, Kate Inoue, Cleo Taneja, Shelby Whallon, Ryo Araki, Cesar Ramirez, and Joshua Schwartz. Jasmine Perry’s particularly strong and high spirited work shines in her pas de trois with Tate Lee and Kahlyl Wrather’s supportive partnering. The delicacy of the pas de deux with the lyricism of the beloved Petra Conti and steadfast Tigran Sargsyan with the company of hardworking corps members carries its sublime theme to its end.
After a short intermission, the staple of LAB, the work of the inimitable George Balanchine. Apollo, re-staged by Colleen Neary, was originally done in Paris in June 1928 for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes after Adolph Bolm’s failed attempt. Igor Stravinsky’s Apollon Musegéte’s uncharacteristic soaring and heroic music was the composer’s project, which lead to his eventual life-long collaboration with Balanchine.
This eve Balanchine’s classic and oldest ballet was again born. Apollo, son of Zeus, god of many things, archery, music and dance, poetry and oratory, truth and prophecy, was performed by Tigran Sargsyan. He ventured to follow in the footsteps of such heroic premiere danseuses as Bolm, Lifar, Eglevsky, D’Amboise, and Baryshnikov and was at times successful. From the view of his classic profile and lute playing friezes, to his god-like dominion over the three muses, Apollo begins his call. Calliope played by Laura Chachich, is a reliable soloist of LAB; followed by Polyhymnia’s lovely performance by the doe-eyed Katherine Williams (courtesy of ABT). Williams’ clear presence, focus and technical ability required no explanation to her understanding of the muse’s antics. Williams it appears is destined for bigger things; Terpsichore is danced by Hee Seo (Courtesy of ABT) who did quite a lovely job as the lead muse. And so, Apollo was born again.
And finally, the namesake of the evening, Bloom, choreographed by the rare talent of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. It is a stunning piece inspired by the Hindu Ritual Puja, a devotional offering of flowers and food to the Gods. The heart- rending Violin Concerto by Philip Glass peaks with the transcendent Pas de deux by Sirui Liu (Courtesy of Cincinnati Ballet) and Fabrice Calmels. Liu and Calmels artistry (re-staged by Anastasia Holden) is so intense in this brilliant weaving piece, that the couple seemed to work as one loving and generous spirit. This is evidenced by the audience’s silence, as though to breath would break the spell.
Lopez Ochoa’s design intelligence creates the simple elegant dodis (loose fitting Indian pants) for the corps in a neutral wheat color. Men are bare chested with women wearing flesh colored leotards. They become a moving dreamscape for the vivid soloists; Mackenzie Byrne, Cassidy Cocke, Kate Inoue, Hannah Keene, dressed in stunning white pancake tutus with deep mauve and purple bodices and overskirts. The soloists combine their efforts with their spirited partners, Tate Lee, Santiago Paniagua, Marcos Ramirez Castellano, Lucas Segovia. The seductive costuming and technically creative inventions are a clear and alluring way into Movements II and III.
The choreographer’s stylized moves (perhaps derived from Bharatnatyam) never cease but seem to be eternal as in the second movement when Liu’s work with her partner seems to take her beyond her body. Her arms float effortlessly through and beyond her fingertips reaching out to the very soul of God and is supported in the arms of the powerful Calmels. It is in fact art unfolding. Their crimson costumes, designed by multi-talented, Lopez Ochoa, reminiscent of deep rose- colored petals, is breathtaking under the pointed stark lighting executed by Tyler Lamber-Perkins and directed by Lopez Ochoa. Liu’s artful work has not been seen often enough in Los Angeles and perhaps only rarely with the likes of Alessandra Ferri, or McMillan’s muse, Lynn Seymour. This work transforms the moments, in all its intensity, making the audience unable to look away for fear they may not see this kind of artistry again.
And with the company of dancers; Shintaro Akana, Ryo Araki, Brigitte Edwards, Nicolai Gorodiskii, Julianne Kinasiewicz, Leah McCall, Madeline McMillin, Clay Murray, Cesar Ramirez Castellano, Brittany Rand, Josh Schwartz, Linnea Swarting, Kahlyl Wrather, they weave and support the power of this truly stunning and flowering gift.
This piece is a transcendent feast, that needs to live on. Kudos to L.A. Ballet. This new view brings soul to L.A.’s namesake ballet company and our hope is that it will continue in this direction, giving opportunities to see some of the brilliant talent that is seeding and growing today. Congratulations to Los Angeles Ballet.
To read more about Los Angeles Ballet, please visit their WEBSITE.
To learn more about The Broad Stage, please visit their WEBSITE.
Written by Joanne DiVito for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Los Angeles Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon’s Ghosts – Photo by Reed Hutchinson/LAB
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