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Texas Ballet Theater: Carmen & DGV: Danse a Grande Vitesse

by Drew Jackson
Monday Sep 19, 2016
Leticia Oliveira and Jiyan Dai
Leticia Oliveira and Jiyan Dai   

Texas Ballet Theater opened its 2016-2017 season Friday night at the Winspear Opera House with a double bill: The sensual "Carmen" and the edgy "DGV: Danse a Grande Vitesse."

TBT presented the North American premiere of celebrated Choreographer Carlos Acosta's "Carmen" based on George Bizet' opera of the same name. Opera's most famous bad girl surprisingly translates into a convincing femme fatale en pointe.

Carmen seduces her captor, Don Jose who sacrifices all to be with her. But Carmen unceremoniously dumps him when she meets the dashing toreador Escamillo. Don Jose stalks Carmen before stabbing her in a fit of jealous rage.

Acosta condenses the three-plus hour opera into a one-hour movement but, magically, you don't feel slighted. If anything, the urgency and passion is heightened.

In fact, the tragic tone is set from the moment the curtain rises upon Carmen literally staring into the eyes of the Devil standing in a large glowing porthole into hell. The Devil (Paul Adams) looms over Carmen's romantic entanglements until eventually sweeping her up in a ghoulish pas de deux, all of this danced to some of the most famous music in the world of opera.

Carl Coomer, (Don Jose) Jiyan Dai (Escamillo) and Adams are top-notch but appropriately it's Leticia Oliveira who mesmerizes as the Spanish temptress. Stylishly sexy, seductive and earthy, Oliveira simmers in the title role.

Samantha Pille and Paul Adams  (Source:Rodger Mallison)

The second act moves move from character-driven dance to conceptual contemporary dance with "DGV: Danse a Grande Vitesse." With music by Michael Nyman, and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, "DVG" was commissioned for the inauguration of a high-speed French train in the 1990s.

As I was marveling at the ballet troupe's performance, I realized how fortunate Dallas/Fort Worth is to have such high quality performance art available to us. And then it occurred to me that this is what "DVG" represents: The romance of modern movement, availability, and technology.

With large curved metal etchings looming downstage, Wheeldon's choreography features travel and technology as its inspiration, which is reflected in dynamic edges, rhythms and organic shapes.

The highlight of "DGV" is indisputably the momentum expressed by four pas de deux. These feature the sublime interpretations of Samantha Pille and Paul Adams, Allisyn Hsieh Caro and Andre Silva, Alexandra Farber and Carl Coomer and Robin Bangert and Shane Howell.

There's an interesting juxtaposition between the monotony of some of the abstract movements and the magical world that the movements sweeps you up into. You figuratively are transported by "DVG." What seems like it could be cold and sterile is translated into a world full of swirling wistfulness, wonder and yearning.

"Carmen" and "DGV: Danse a Grande Vitesse" runs through Sept. 18 at the Winspear Opera, 2403 Flora Street in Dallas and then October 7-9 at the Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce Street in Fort Worth. For information or tickets for either venue, call 877-828-9200 or visit texasballettheater.org

Drew Jackson was born in Brooklyn and has been writing ever since he graduated from NYC. He now lives in Dallas happily married to his husband Hugh. Jackson is currently working on his next play.


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