Livestream from Theater Winterthur
February 27, 2021
Junior Ballett Zürich, founded in 2001 is now an established adjunct to the main company appearing regularly in major productions and with many of the young dancers joining the company ranks. The livestreamed performance of Impulse was the their night, a chance to prove their talents in a triple bill of new works by Craig Davidson, Bryan Arias and Juliano Nunes, three choreographers who are rapidly building international reputations.
Davidson’s Entropy is enclosed in white walls marked out by panels of light that suggest high windows to the outside world. On a theme of adapting to change, Davidson uses the full company of fourteen dancers in an expertly structured work, striking a balance between complexity and clarity. The choreography is defined in clean classical shapes with arms and body angles ringing the changes. The patterning is skilful and the subtle shifts between working in ensemble and canon keep the stage alive with interest.
The simple elegance of the costumes gives definition to the sculpted bodies configured in lines and geometric patterns interspersed with duets. In the cool lighting and accompanied by the tingling atmospheric sounds of Nicholas Robert Thayer’s score, Désirée Guler and George Susman open with lyrical duet in neo-classic form. A dramatic change comes as a strong pulse is introduced in a wash of golden light. Greta Calzuola and Théo Just take centre stage complementing the change with in a complex, thrilling partnership before Just joins Luca D’Amato in a dynamic male pairing where bodies mirror and complement. The second half is crowned by a duet of riveting intensity from Marta Andreitsiv and D’Amato, dancers with great presence who bring out the quality in every movement.
It was an exhilarating performance. These young dancers have the technique to handle the very demanding choreography while never letting skill overwhelm artistry and personal warmth.
The overt theatricality of Arias’ Pure Coincidence proves an effective contrast. It has six characters and hints of Luigi Pirandello’s play, with costumes from Bregje van Balen that evoke fantasies and the space to create dreams. The dancers embody their chosen personality in distinctive movement, finding idiosyncratic detail in a hand wave or a glance. Multi-talented Wolf Hoeyberghs goes first to the piano, playing his own virtuosic composition before establishing his character in movement. A ruffled shirt, black trousers and a mane of black hair mark him out as a Byronesque Romantic with an extravagant dance style to match.
Calzuola, hair in cute bunches and a fuzzy skirt, eyeballs us through her fishbowl then launches into a eye-watering solo. Achille De Groeve, padded out like an overweight school boy, presents a vulnerable and sweetly poetic character. He is a dancer of extraordinary movement skills as he juggles niftily with a toy glider only to be outwitted by an electric car.
Serious and self-contained, Marta Andreitsiv, offers a surprise narrative as she slips through the looking glass to return in wolf guise which together with her red frilled coat suggests a whole new story. There is no shortage of exceptionally good dance as Arias masters this mixed bag of delights shaping it into a dramatic whole, balancing the absurd with concrete choreography. The lights fade on the group huddled together in carnival clothes, gazing at the TV monitor on an idyllic rural scene and a sunlit path. Strangely it all makes perfect sense.
Juliano Nunes’ Union in Poetry does what it says on the tin, finding beauty in the power of synchronised movement. The fourteen dancers remain on stage throughout, creating waves of movement and capturing the delight of a murmuration of birds.
Occasionally dancers separate from the ranks and dance solo, but the power comes predominantly from fluid movement that threads through the corps like an electric charge.
Nunes’ unisex costumes, vivid yellow skinny high-necked tops and knee length soft split skirts are unconventional but work amazingly well.
Nunes exploits the flexibility of the dancers, both male and female, to create unusual shapes that take classical form into new territory. In duets and small groups bodies are lifted, wrapped, stretched and sculpted, creating poetry in motion. The dancers are fearless and totally in the moment.
The music predominantly, Arvo Pärt is heart-felt and profound, in tune with the classical undertones in the choreography. Later emotions rise and fractious relationships develop. Bodies twist in anguish and limbs flex and contort to find beauty in a different form. Finally, harmony returns as Nunes, like a magician, weaves dynamics and movement into an almost primal force. It’s a powerful work that touches the subconscious, finding resonance in our innate human need to be together.
Junior Ballett Zürich in Impulse can be watched free on www.opernhaus.ch until April 30, 2021.