Experiential Review: A Night at the Ballet
Experiential Review: A Night at the Ballet
By Kyra Brue
It was a warm, rainy Saturday evening and the sun was setting as my sister and I arrived at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre to see the Atlanta Ballet’s, Return to Fall. As a former dancer, I was eager to attend this show and watch as the dancers graced the stage. Before this evening, it had been a while since I had been to a ballet performance, so it was nice to finally relieve this drought.
As soon as we entered the venue, I was hit with the strong and recognizable smell of alcohol mixed with various types of perfumes and colognes. After I regarded the strong scents in the air, I looked around the interior and was graced with the elegant and modern architecture of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. After getting our tickets scanned, we made our way to our seats quickly and easily. I observed that the ushers and other employees were very friendly and helpful to not just my sister and I, but to everyone attending the performance.
As we entered the theatre, you can see that the building’s elegant architecture carries through into the theatre with a plethora of red seats, red carpeted isles, and a large stage draped with a red curtain. While waiting for the performance to begin I watched as patrons, clothed in lavish dresses and suits, made their way to their seats ready for an entertaining night.
Before the performance began, we heard the typical “silence your cellphones, no photography or video, and no talking” spiel before the lights dimmed and the curtain rose to reveal a screen. Before the first performance, Return to a Strange Land, began, there was a mini documentary with choreographer, Jiří Kylián, explaining what went into creating this piece. Previous performances that I have been to – even contemporary ones like this one – haven’t had videos before the performance, but this was a different but interesting addition that I enjoyed.
Return to a Strange Land included 4 smaller combinations within it. There were 6 dancers total, including two women and four men, who were decked out in light brown or baby blue leotards and pants. The piece was a modern ballet performance with soft piano music and the dancers movements were slow, fluid and graceful throughout. Flexibility and strength were also key factors in each of the dances.
In the second and more classical ballet piece, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, dancers, Jessica He and Ivan Tarakanov, perform a pas de deux, or dance for two, choreographed by George Balanchine. This performance was much more lively and portrayed a more typical depiction of ballet. The ballerina had on a pink, flowy costume while her counterpart was decked out in white pants and a frilly top. Overall, the piece was entertaining to watch, and the dancer’s abilities allowed them to put on a great performance.
In Vertigo, the third performance of the night, the choreography took a darker turn. The performer’s costumes, and the stage’s lighting were ominous and gloomy giving it a depressing tone. And while the choreography was fluid and slow in some parts, it was staccato and broken in other parts. This performance wasn’t my favorite because it was very repetitive and the music was slow and deep which made it a bit boring to watch, but the performers gave it their all.
My favorite performance of the night was the Don Quixote Pas de Deux. When I was still dancing, I got the chance to learn the female solo part, so seeing it being performed brought back fond memories. Their Hispanic inspired costumes made a great first impression, and the attitude that both dancers expressed added to the performance. The male dancer, Nikolas Gaifullin, had beautiful, high jumps, along with flawless quadruple pirouettes (turns) making his solo combination one of the best of the night. While Nikolas seemed to steal the show at first, his female partner, Jessica Assef, ended the pas with a gorgeous fouetté routine that left the audience standing and cheering for the duo. This performance was very lively – even more so than the Tchaikovsky Pas de Duex – and the abilities of Nikolas and Jessica put this piece on top.
The last performance, The Premiere, began with a video similar to that of the first performance. Brazilian choreographer, Ricardo Amarante, spoke about his passion for working with dancers and helping them to grow and improve their technique. The first song of this performance sounded very familiar to me, and after a couple of seconds I realized that it was Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns, which can also be heard in the movie Shrek the Third (2007). I had seen this movie several times as a child, so I was able to recognize it.
The Premiere was similar to the first performance in that it was a modern ballet piece. The costumes were basic black or white leotards with black skirts, for the female dancers, and black or white tights and tops for the men. The group of eighteen performed a lively and intense piece, which included a few random comedic moments throughout. This piece was probably my second favorite overall because of the unique and intriguing choreography, along with the dancer’s engaging personalities and facial expressions.
Once the performance ended, with a standing ovation, people filed out of the theatre in an orderly and quick fashion. The way that the venue was set up allowed for a smooth exit of both people and their cars.
Overall the performances were great and really showed the professionalism and experience that encompasses the Atlanta Ballet. If you’re interested in ballet – or even if you’re just curious about it – I would highly recommend attending an Atlanta Ballet performance. You would not regret it.
Upcoming performances include: The Nutcracker (December 8-24, 2018 at the Fox Theatre), La Sylphide (February 15-23, 2019 at the Cobb Energy Centre), and The Beauty and the Beast (February 21 – 24, 2019 & April 13-14, 2019 at the Cobb Energy Centre).