"The Four Seasons" irreverently tells a tale of the origins of life through a choreographic entertainment with aesthetic sensibilities reminiscent of the Folies Bergère, Martha Graham, politically satiric cabaret, and modernistic ballet. Performed by the Saba Dance Theater at Chernuchin Theatre of the American Theatre of Actors and choreographed by the company's artistic director, the French dancer Saba, the evening-length work is refreshingly low-tech. Yet the imaginative costumes, brilliantly designed by Saba, emerge as the star of the show, proving far more visually stimulating than the show's jazzy, ballet-based choreography.
Dancing spermlike creatures are dressed in superstylish, black-leather, miniskirted outfits. Mating butterflies sport gorgeous airy wings, but dance in a steady-paced, grounded, notably unfluttery fashion. Saba solos seductively in a black Speedo with bright red bands wrapped geometrically around his body. A spider catches flies in a big elasticized web -- a highly effective set piece, simple but engrossing.
The work's only choreographic high points are the two ensemble sequences "La plage" and "The last leaf." The first is a titillating beach scene in which the women cleverly open and close their towels, strategically maneuvering them and spinning their bodies so as never to expose their nakedness. The intricate strolling patterns and synchronized towel moves create oodles of sexy fun. Shifting into a more serious vein, Saba evokes autumn with a beautiful modern-dance passage that barely moves. Its impact lies in the images conjured by the costumes, tableaux, and sounds. We hear the wind, frogs, thunder, and crackling noises as we see tall, solid trees, brittle leaves falling away from them, and a chilly breeze blowing through. Despite its literalness, the scene is genuinely affecting and enriches the overall work, as it brings a contemplative mood to an evening of punchy, over-the-top jollity.