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Reviews

Les Boréades

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Presented by Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of BAM 2003 Spring at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, NYC, June 9 – June 15.

Perhaps choreographers associated with the Metropolitan Opera had some time to peek in at the Paris National Opera's production of Jean-Philippe Rameau's "Les Boréades," presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. If they did, they would have seen ballet as a piece of the whole rather than a bunch of girls in long dresses and men in tails waltzing around the stage to take up time and make appropriate background. Rameau's virtually unknown opera (abandoned during rehearsals in 1763 at the Paris Opera for reasons unclear to this day) had astounding sets, not-so-astounding music, less-than-astounding text (about storms and winds), and yet another plotline about finding one's true love. However, the choreography of Édouard Lock, of which there was quite a bit, was another story.

Locke's own company, "La La La Human Steps," is a favorite with Canadian audiences for its abstract, outrageous movement quality and the high performance level of his exquisitely trained dancers. In this production, the dancers were not second-class citizens but instead were front and center, emerging from the crowd of singers to display gorgeous legs, beautiful faces, and taut pointe work. These divine women danced with amazing dexterity, standing centered on the wooden boxes of their shoes, piercing the floor in patterns of astounding balance. Their arms waggled and wiggled every which way in staccato, hyperkinetic patterns, heads bantering back and forth, backs arched with high arabesques. The choreography, a stunning addition to the music (performed by William Christie's Les Arts Florissants), gave the evening an appropriate lift. However, nowhere in the program are their names mentioned. Further research indicated some were members of Locke's company. With so little rewards for dancers, monetary or otherwise, this seemed a sad oversight.

Michel Levine's extravagant sets made magical use of umbrellas turned upside down to cradle tons of leaves. Spin the handle and they blanketed the stage, creating a beautiful image.

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