This post is from Barbara Parker.
The title of this post comes from A Chorus Line. Aspiring dancers are baring their souls, sharing their stories, when Shelia sings why she took her first ballet class- amidst family strife, going to the ballet was her refuge. Everything was beautiful at the ballet. Graceful men lift lovely girls in white. I was happy... at the ballet.
Tonight, everything will be beautiful at the ballet when Ballet West returns to Wolf Trap for the first time in almost 20 years.
Ballet West was founded in Salt Lake City by William F. Christensen. Christensen started as a dancer and then a choreographer. He then went on to found the first ballet department at an American university at University of Utah in addition to co-founding San Francisco Ballet with his brothers, and then founding Ballet West in 1963. Christensen is a ballet pioneer who has created a company with a distinct and notable repertoire.
Over the last almost 50 years, Ballet West has seen five Artistic Directors, including their current, Adam Sklute. However one thing that has not changed over those decades is a repertoire that represents the best the ballet world has to offer. It is a repertoire that reaches into the past with classics like Christensen's Swan Lake while discovering the future of ballet through programs like Innovations, which has become a platform for up-and-coming choreographers.
This program is particularly demonstrative of this perfectly balanced repertoire. There are three works created by three choreographers representing a 62-year time span between their creation. Tonight, Wolf Trap and Ballet West present a lifetime, a 62-year-old lifetime, of ballet in one evening.
The program opens with George Balanchine's The Four Temperaments. With its world premiere in 1946, The 4 Ts is known as one of Balanchine's earliest experimental works. Balanchine is defined by the hallmarks of his craftsmanship- musicality and lines. With this work, he alternates steps on pointe with flat steps, twisted and turned torsos, fused classical lines with angles and did it all to a syncopated rhythm. This work, that has stood the test of time over six decades, is one small reason why Balanchine is synonymous with ballet.
In chronological order, rather than program order, the next piece is Jiri Kylian's 1978 Sinfonietta. Kylian embraces musicality as well but more heavily infuses the movement with emotion. Janacek's score is jubilant and Kylian matches that spirit with choreography filled with joy and exhilaration. While Balanchine brings us the simplest of costumes, black and white tights and leotards, Kylian's lush backdrop depicts sky, land and sea paying homage to nature.
The youngest work on our program is 2008's Grand Synthesis choreographed by Susan Shields. Shields's work literally meets this program in the middle. The second of the three pieces, it shares the musicality of Balanchine and Kylian, this time to the music of Graham Fitkin's Log. But rather than accentuate line like Balanchine or emotion like Kylian, Shields merges the classical ballet vocabulary with a modern-influenced language.
This is truly a program not to be missed. One evening. Three works. A lifetime of ballet. And remember, everything is beautiful at the ballet.