Dominic Walsh Dance Theater
April 30, 2009
Mozart conjures a chilly place under Dominic Walsh’s choreographic baton. The Trilogy: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by Dominic Walsh Dance Theater (DWDT) and Sarasota Ballet left an icy sting, hauntingly beautiful in some parts, and perplexing in others.
Women in white face donning semi-period frocks of fluffed blue-gray tulle and men in waistcoats make up the denizens of Walsh’s ghostly Mozartian landscape. They come and go, alternating between serious and silly moods. (Why are just the women in white Pirot-like make-up?) Domenico Luciano, a body double for Michaelangelo’s David, takes the form of the main character, the thread that unites the Mozart pieces. Luciano, always lovely to watch, sweeps through space with grand gestures and contains a larger than life feel. It’s hard to watch anyone else when he is on stage. Yet, his domineering presence confounds as much as intrigues. Who is he? A visitor in this imagined kingdom, the ruler? Normally, a little ambiguity works well, here’s it’s just frustrating.
The ballet springs to life during the opera sections from The Magic Flute and Cosi fan Tutte. The sound of the human voice melts some of the piece’s austerity and Walsh goes to town with his usual choreographic flair, finding all kinds of novel ways to partner and create compelling shapes. Clawed hands and slippery ice skating slides, create distinct shapes. The energy during these sections provides needed relief and warmth.
Sarasota Ballet, under the direction of Iain Webb, provided another bright light. This sleek company handled Walsh’s sinewy curves with great attack, technique, and a flair for nuance. Webb’s fine troupe melded well with DWDT and their polished performance was the high point of the evening. Simon Mumme and Logan Learned stood out during “Amadeus for Anita.”
Libbie Masterson’s set of cloth-draped wire resembles icebergs, but never achieves a feeling of substance. The lack of dimension flattened out the space, making the choreography seem less sculptural. Toward the end, the fabric billows from all directions. Moments that might have been visually arresting were marred by technical constraints. Fabric, a fluid material, ended up looking static. Luciano’s whimsical fluffed tulle costumes added some needed lightness, and Robert Eubanks’ spooky lighting heightened the somber grave-yard feel.
Despite fine dancing by both troupes and some choreographic glimmers the overall effect left me cold. The culmination of these three ballets together just did not add to a very satisfying whole. Not even Mozart’s epic music held it together.