REVIEW: Ballet Spartanburg Shakes It Up in Four New Pieces that Champion the Power of Women
March 27, 2017 Sandy Staggs
BY SANDY STAGGS
Ballet Spartanburg celebrated International Women’s Month this weekend with two tantalizing performances of its 9th annual Dansynergy program of original works that integrate dance with other art disciplines.
“Celebrating the Power of Women” featured four new ballets inspired by both real and mythological figures from American poet and author Sylvia Platt to Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and local poet Elizabeth Cox to the legend of Pandora.
Company member Analay Saiz danced the role of Pandora in a ballet choreographed by Michelle Thompson Ulerich to an original score composed by Damien Simon for this momentous event. Taken from the Greek myth about the first woman on earth, Pandora is presented to mankind by Zeus, played by guest artist and local actor Alistair Mann, who, though not a professional dancer, has a sinewy build and pleasant form that blended right in with the pros.
Basked with gifts by a trio of gods and goddesses — clothing by Nichola Montt as Athena, beauty, of course, from Dominique Green’s Aphrodite and speech from Meghan Lohman’s Hermes — Pandora is also presented a box (a human vessel) that Zeus warns never to open.
Simon’s brooding musical vignettes featured heavy woodwind (flute, oboe, clarinet) as Pandora first experiences the world (and the open arms of Will Scott’s Epimetheus) like a newborn Pinocchio, and morphs into a dramatic crescendo of cello and harp and riveting rhythmic pulses that reminded me of the post-wedding movement from the score of the film “Muriel’s Wedding.” But like Eve, Pandora’s temptation is too great and she opens the box and unleashes the evils of the world as a quintet of dancers in Melissa Kimbrell’s fiery red costumes rain down pestilence, death and war in a scene reminiscent of Dante’s Hell. But the resilience of humankind prevails and Hope perseveres.
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