|Colouring, Post:Ballet. Photo by David DeSilva|
In many cities and towns across the U.S., once the local ballet company completes its schedule, local fans have to pretty much wait until next season to get their dance fix. Not so in the San Francisco Bay Area. This dance-rich corner of the country fields a large number of companies that populate the regular fall/spring seasons and encompass everything from classical ballet to contact improvisation. Additionally, during the off-season, while some take a well-deserved break, other dancers and choreographers reconfigure, creating fascinating new companies.
Post:Ballet, led by Artistic Director and Choreographer Robert Dekkers, is one of the most exciting to appear in the last couple of years. Well received in its first outing in 2010, the local dance community recently filled the Herbst Theater for the company’s sophomore outing —Seconds. The program included two premieres, as well as two works from its inaugural performance.
The two reprises, Flutter and Happiness of Pursuit, were well worth a revisit. Happiness of Pursuitprovided a joyous exploration of pure movement, as its seven dancers grouped and regrouped in various configurations. Lots going on in this one — so much so that it will require more than one viewing to sort out all the details — looking forward to it.
In its original outing, Flutter was performed by three women. This time, however, Dekkers assigned the work to three men. The staccato and intricate first movement, set to Steve Reich’sClapping Music, missed the crispness needed to take the material from effective to dazzling. The second movement, set to a Bach partita, was more successful. Flowing movements, including a floor sequence reminiscent of an underwater ballet, gave Daniel Marshalsay, Jonathan Mangosing, and Christian Squires an opportunity to display an appealing lyricism.
Beginning with Jonathan Mangosing’s spectacular opening solo, Interference Pattern is an absorbing examination of how seemingly random encounters influence and control one another. Here Dekkers provided Daniel Marshalsay and Christian Squires with one of the evening’s most memorable duets. An unusual and effective combination of strength and tenderness overlaid with a subtle eroticism, it completely captured an exquisite moment. The only issue I have with this ballet is that it stopped, rather than concluded, causing the audience to hesitate in confusion before beginning its applause.
Although all of the works on this program were entertaining, the opening work, Colouring, made the most cohesive statement. An investigation of the creative process, the dance used choreography, music, visual art, and photography to illustrate how an artistic work is built, demonstrating that what appears as a fleeting moment on stage can take a vast amount of time and detail to construct.
Daniel Berkman performed his original score, while Enrique Quintero created a painting behind the two dancers, and photographer Natalia Perez documented the scene. Throughout the piece, the dancers incrementally added steps and positions as the pas de deux developed. Although deceptively simple to the viewer, the dancers’ static starts and stops required a high degree of strength and technique; the appealing couple, Jared Hunt and Beau Campbell, were up to the task. At the end, all the pieces fit together, as Perez’s images concluded the ballet.
Special kudos to Lighting Designer David Robertson, who gave each work its own energy, yet managed to keep the evening visually integrated.
Post:Ballet is an example of everything that is good about the Bay Area dance scene — inventive choreography, intriguing music, and top-notch dancers. It seems a shame that we have to wait a year for the next show.
In addition to its annual performance, Post:Ballet also participates in various events around town. For information, see Post:Ballet at www.postballet.org.
[Originally published at California Literary Review, July 25, 2011.]