A Review of Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s ‘Light To Dark’

Elizabith Costey ‘16/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Angie DeWolf and Spencer Doru Keith in Mateo's premiere The Even and the Odd. Photo Credit: Michael Basu
Angie DeWolf and Spencer Doru Keith in Mateo’s premiere The Even and the Odd. Photo Credit: Michael Basu

In their final concert of the season, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre impresses audiences with the dramatic and emotionally evolving ballets in Light to Dark. Light to Dark features “Back to Bach” (2002), “Dark Profiles” (2001), and premiere work “The Even and the Odd” with musical composition by Anna Clyne. Light to Dark is a riveting display of human nature, a contrast of the light and dark sides of the human psyche.

In the shadows of the beautiful Sanctuary Theater dancers take their places. “Back to Bach” begins. Dressed in elegant black attire, dancers perform to the timeless melody of Bach’s Piano Concerto in G Minor. The melody is lively and amiable. The complimenting choreography is charming, classic, and quick. With a constantly light and happy mood, dancers run on and off the stage in rapid leaps, lifts, and pirouettes. The piece moves quickly through group choreography, solos, duets, and then back again with an ever evolving dichotomy of few or many, men or women. “Back to Bach” displays beautiful technique and musicality and leaves the audience to eagerly await the next piece.

The lights of the Sanctuary Theater light up on an empty stage. Dancer Madeleine Bonn enters in the silence and walks slowly across the stage. In a sudden flare of sound, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge in B Flat, resounds throughout the theater, launching Bonn into a tense solo. “Dark Profiles”, as the name would suggest, is much darker than the previous piece. Compared to “Back to Bach”, “Dark Profiles” carries the same distinct musicality, but also uses more grandiose movements. Building on the power of Beethoven’s melody, dancers perform in fuges or cannons, taking root choreography and reusing it in different times. The fuges construct a maelstrom of movement and create verses of choreographed chaos. The chaos only pauses for the brief duets between Madeleine Bonn and Junichi Fukuda. While far from amiable, the duets are heartfelt and raw, bolstered by the pair’s technical skill. In one of the most dramatic moments of the pair’s duet, Fukuda balances Bonn in a beautiful arabesque on point. Her leg still extended behind her, Bonn slowly drops her chest down, resting it on her standing leg. From there Fukuda lifts Bonn into the air, allowing her arch gracefully over his shoulder. Despite, or perhaps because of the dark undertones, “Dark Profiles” was beautiful to watch.

For the final time this season, the lights go dark, marking the beginning of the “The Even & The Odd”, Jose Matteo Ballet Theater’s premiere ballet. Dancer Spencer Doru Kieth stands alone on stage, dancing acutely in silence. With a sudden harsh note, Anna Clyne’s Night Ferry announces the beginning of the ballet. Other dancers rush on stage, dancing in a flurry of movement, traveling rapidly on and off stage. The women are dressed in vibrant leotards, all except Lauren Ganther, who wears a simple black leotard. Ganther and Kieth perform a brisk and dynamic duet. The pair’s strong technique and excellent partnering entranced the audience.

Every element of “The Even & The Odd” is edgy and turbulent. Clyne’s Night Ferry is alternatively soft or cacophonous, yet even in moments of peace, the music conveys underlying hints of darkness. Jose Mateo’s choreography expertly conveys this subversive depth within Clyne’s music, and the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre dancers expertly convey the depth within Mateo’s choreography. “The Even & The Odd” is an alluring and intriguing ballet with uncountable layers and possibilities. With any luck, the ballet will be revisited in future concerts. All three ballets create a fascinating analysis of the spectrum of light and dark in human nature. All in all, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s “Light to Dark” was the perfect finale to their 30th year of masterful ballet.


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