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March 3, 2005

The performance was great but the dance isn’t . . .

Last night at Paul Taylor, Lisa Viola and Michael Trusnovec gave a gripping performance in Promethean Fire, a dance I’ve never warmed to. I think Taylor’s done better Bach pieces and I find the work, especially the schlock-Bach Stokowski transcription, veers past bombast hazardously to parody. Trusnovec and Viola are a great match, each has an intensity only the other can meet. Random thought: Is that what this era's dancers will be known for? Our most memorable dancers aren't the pure ones; they're the go-for-broke super-intense ones like Trusnovec or Wendy Whelan. Perhaps this is the art form mirroring the culture.

Viola hurled herself halfway across the stage to Trusnovec; the audience did not breathe during their entire pas de deux. With that powerful a performance, how can you do anything but take the dance seriously as an artistic statement of magnitude? Did they save the dance or just show us what Taylor meant all along?

I have less love for John Cranko’s Onegin but Martine Lamy and Nikolaj Hübbe gave the best performances I saw in 2003. Lamy, completely fighting against type, was shattering in the role.

So how do you separate a lesser ballet from a major performance? If a ballet allows a first-rate performance, what makes it second-rate?

I'll have a full review of PTDC's Wednesday night program in Monday's Danceview Times

Posted by Leigh Witchel at March 3, 2005 7:31 PM

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