Los Angeles Ballet find its season groove in ‘Modern Moves’

Los Angeles Ballet
Members of the Lab Ensemble within the Los Angeles Ballet exhibiting peak performance in "Western Symphony." Photo by Nathaniel Solis

LOS ANGELES, CA-The Los Angeles Ballet kicked off its 2018-19 season in October at Royce Hall performing a program with three different scenes called “Modern Moves.” With the season now in full swing, the LA Ballet is now engaged in the populated holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” with “Serenade & La Sylphide” coming in March 2019.

The LA Ballet’s anticipated season debut with “Modern Moves” gave ballet fans a tease into their dance mastery with  Aszure Barton’s “Les Chambres des Jacques,” Alejandro Cerrudo’s “Lickety-Split,” and George Balanchine’s 1954 classic “Western Symphony.”

LA Ballet ventured into unchartered waters, taking a road not usually taken by performing more contemporary modern pieces.

The first piece is Les Chambres with unconventional choreography and anomalous music — Vigneault, Vivaldi, Les Yeux, The Cracow Klezmer Band, and Alberto Iglesias. Barton creates very interesting movement and the dancers seem to tackle it with great jubilation and sound approach.

Two bright spots were solos performed by Kenta Shimizu and Tigran Sargsyan. Shimizu is outstanding, displaying strategic movements between understatement and gleaming. He shows why he is a veteran of dance.

The piece closes with a solo by Sargsyan who is physically strong in his movements as he captures the struggles of romance and the flirtatious teasing between men and women.

Los Angeles Ballet performers Bianca Bulle (right) and Tigran Sargsyan doing work in “Lickety-Split.” Photo by Nathaniel Solis

Next was Cerrudo’s Lickety-Split performed to music by Devendra Banhart. The dancers dance with a fierceness amidst a backdrop again of romance.

There are three duets that highlight this piece. Jasmine Perry and Dallas Finley, Leah McCall and Joshua Brown, and then Sargsyan and Bianca Bulle. There is peacefulness and enchantment between Perry and Finley, a sense of manic between McCall and Brown, and a sense of amusement between Sargsyan and Bulle where at one point he is banging his head on her behind. Great effect for shock value.

But it was Balanchine’s Western Symphony that seemed to be the show-stopper. It was “Oklahoma-esque” with male performers dressed as cowboys and females as saloon dancers. With this piece it seems as if Balanchine goes on hiatus from his typically serious work. It’s a foot-stomping, do-si-doing hoe-down with American folk tunes arranged by Hershy Kay.

It also seems to be a satire on classical ballet with imitations of “Giselle” and “Swan Lake.” These dancers capably handled the duets: Laura Chachich and Eris Nezha, Petra Conti and Sargsyan, and then Bulle and Shimizu.

Western Symphony was a whirlwind of many fouettes which is a fan-favorite and a great way to conclude the night on a high note.

Steven Lieberman
About Steven Lieberman 39 Articles
Steven LIeberman is a veteran sports/arts/entertainment journalist. Lieberman has covered entertainment and professional sports, Including the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, for the past 14 years. Among his entertainment work, Lieberman covers concerts, theatre and events.

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