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Rock Ballets

Three chart-busting musical forces from the late 20th century serve as the musical inspiration for Rock Ballets, an exploration of pop culture through the lens of classical and modern form, reviving three of Ballet Nouveau Colorado (BNC) artistic director Garrett Ammon's creations. The music ranges from slow ballads to upbeat rock 'n' roll, while Ammon's choreography is a mix of literal rhythms and metaphorical stories.

Mediate
Mediate
Photo: David Jennings
Mediate, which received its world premiere in 2007 at Ballet Memphis, is set to the INXS hits, "By My Side," "Just Keep Walking," "Guns in the Sky," "Mediate," and "Never Tear Us Apart." Ammon's iconic angular and rounded modern vocabulary morphs into classical as-you've-never-seen-it-before and then back to a free-form that, by-and-by, drifts along sans musique, a sublime commentary on the ever-changing hidden rhythms and melodies of daily life. Once their costumes come off, and the dancers are stripped down to the bare essentials, we move through an intruiging set of hieroglyphics dissolving into the natural sequential flow of jogging, until we witness a compelling dance in a gym, which explores a high-contrast relationship in the making.

Love of My Life
Love of My Life
Photo: David Jennings
Queen and Freddie Mercury hits—"You Take My Breath Away," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Love of My Life," "We Are The Champions," "It's A Beautiful Day"—provide the pop pulsations for Love of My Life, which BNC premiered in 2007. Picking up on the dance without music statement in the previous piece, a diaphanously draped female dancer's story unfolds with the exploratory melodies of a piano. Five contemporary figures express variations on the thrall of love, in multiple-part harmony. The mother archtype is invoked, with a sequence of psycho-physical wrinkles echoed in the ensemble. Disconnection is healed for a male figure, while the title character circles and observes, still waiting for the "Love of My Life." She finds solace in her friends and her own sense of self: "No one is going to stop me now!"

An Occasional Dream
An Occasional Dream
Photo: David Jennings
Rock Ballets concludes with An Occasional Dream, from the music of David Bowie—"The Man Who Sold The World," "Don't Sit Down," "Time," "An Occasional Dream," "Oh! You Pretty Things," "All The Madmen," "Space Oddity," and "Life on Mars?" Luggage provides a metaphor as an exuberent couple playfully engages, and then are encircled by revelers. One day he wakes up and walks off with his hat and umbrella, with a quirkiness that turns a cliché into a bittersweet comedy. She is left to consider the suitcases. The male figure returns and the baggage is the target of a series of skirmishes. The female figure leaves and is replaced by another, leading to a Garden of Eden satire involving a couple and an apple, in which they are sent packing, suitcase in hand, hat and umbrella at the employ. Again, baggage is invoked as frustrations are played out in the battle of the sexes, the empowerment of men and the compassion of women. Bowie's famous refrain, "Ground Control to Major Tom," poetically invites a Jungian synthesis of anima and animus, the trauma inflicted on the feminine healing itself. He bequeaths the suitcase to her, which she empties, spilling apples over the stage. Eating of the tree of knowledge comes full circle—from forbidden to realized—in the form of conscious spiritual evolution.

Ballet Nouveau Colorado's Rock Ballets concludes April 15th at the Performing Arts Complex at PCS, 1001 W. 84th Avenue, Denver, CO 80260. It will be reprised this summer, at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities's outdoor amphitheater during their Center Fest on Friday, June 8th. 303-466-5685 or bncdance.com.

Bob Bows

 

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