Washington Ballet opened its 20th anniversary program last week. To celebrate, the company put together a program of three dances that venerated its heritage (Balanchine's "Concerto Barocco" and the late Choo-San Goh's "Birds of Paradise") and looked to the future with the world premiere by the company's new artistic associate, Simon Dow, "Illuminata."
Dow teamed up with the company's new resident composer, Jerzy Sapieyevski to create an abstract work that was brimming with symbolism. 'Illuminata" forges the mysticism of St. Catherine with the secular transformation of Pygmalion into a surreal soup of images and strong theatrical elements.
Before the curtain was fully raised, "Illuminata" began its odd magic. Behind a black scrim, the shadowy figures of seven dancers moved erratically while the composer/musician sat silently in the orchestra pit. When the curtain was fully raised, one saw Peter Stark, ("The One Who Knows") dressed in a loose white suit, face heavily powdered white, standing on a towering structure above the still moving figures.
Stark slowly descended the tower, then stood in the center of the stage, pointed his index finger and wrote in the air. He meandered through the crowd until he saw Julie Miles, ("The Chosen One") and as he placed his hand on her shoulder the first sounds of Sapieyevski's synthesizied music was heard. The focus of the work is the relationship of these two odd characters who stood and twitched at either end of the stage while the remaining three couples moved feverishly across Tony Tucci's fantastically lit space.
"Illuminata" let the audience see the expert dancing of the company's men, Chip Coleman, Runqiao Du and Alvaro Palau, as they charged the space. The women, Tristi Ann McMaster, Heather Perry and Cheryl Sladkin, were equal in their fervor.
Where: Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre through Oct. 20
jTC When: 7: 30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Call (202)467-4600 for tickets and information
Pub Date: 10/07/96