In a review, I try to not make a list of dances with ratings, which means I don’t mention every dance or every dancer, even if the choreography or performance were exceptional. In a dense program like Master Composers with two and half hours of new and exciting choreography, with a full-company cast bringing it brightly to life, something or someone amazing and noteworthy is bound to go unmentioned.
I went back to see the final performance of Master Composers on Sunday and felt so swept away by Dr. Robert Weiss’s choreography of the Epilogue to Waltz from Eugene Onegin by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, a truly grande finale, that I wanted to come back and give it the attention it deserves.
Dancers in elegant costumes fill the stage gradually, matching the suspense that builds in Tchaikovsky’s music, until they overwhelm the space with sweeping movement. It’s everything I love about a waltz. More than any other musical form, a waltz is the perfect conduit for emotion. A minor key waltz like this one (Valse Triste by Franz von Vecsey) can make sadness beautiful, and contrariwise, an upbeat waltz like this finale is exulting. Dr. Weiss took the joy inherent in the music and made it visible, creating a sense of warmth and connectedness, on which the dancers skillfully followed through. And how perfect that the program should open with Polonaise in F Sharp Minor, not quite somber, but quite orderly–an early evening sort of get together–and finish with a grand exuberant waltz. Listen to Tchaikovsky’s waltz here. Around two minutes suspense begins to build to the brassy climax when all the dancers have entered the stage and begun to move together. I found it difficult to stay seated through this grand entrance.
Another Act III dance that I failed to mention before was Lollapalooza, composed by John Adams and choreographed by Dr. Weiss. It was charming, but choppy; fun, but lacking depth. However, Elice McKinley‘s performance in this piece caught my eye. She seems to have moved to a new level. Having shed the self-consciousness that’s understandably seen in very young dancers, her performance has become larger than her person.
Speaking of transcending performances, Cecilia Iliesiu (again) did not so much “perform” her role in Hungarian Dances as she became it. She was powerful, steamy and real.
Zalman Raffael‘s Cello Suite in C Major by Johann Sebastian Bach from Act 1 and his Tango by Igor Stravinsky from Act III would be on the “Best of Master Composers” list. His linear and edgy style makes Bach modern. Randi Osetek (Tango) is the perfect medium for a choreographer to play with lines.
And I still haven’t said all there is to say about this program. But I’ve said all I’m going to say for now. I want to hear which dances are everyone’s favorites.
In the meantime, let’s listen to Danse Real by Anonymous Medieval Composer again.