Miro Magloire’s New Chamber Ballet is to be commended for its endurance in the tough world of ballet. Magloire has calmly gone about his business, consistently creating choreography on his very dedicated dancers year after year.
His current mini-season—all his appearances are of the mini-season variety—was presented in the James and Martha Duffy Performance Space at the Mark Morris Dance Center in downtown Brooklyn. It consisted of a long work, “Sea,” and a very short piece called “Sun,” both world premieres.
Magloire always uses live musical accompaniment, this time provided by the talented Doori Na on violin and Melody Fader on piano. They rose to the challenges of Richard Carrick’s score for “Sea” which involved manually plucking the piano strings and finding the most rasping sounds on the violin.
“Sea,” according to Magloire’s program notes is “loosely inspired by the movement of waves.” Five dancers—Anabel Alpert, Megan Foley, Amber Neff, Rachele Perla and Alison Tatsuoka-dressed in Sarah Thea’s beautifully flowing blue costumes, certainly moved in ways that were wavelike, but they also seemed to be performing a constantly shifting ritual that eased from quietly intense to agitated and back—from languor to vigor.
A sole figure lay in the center of the stage slowly stretching as Carrick’s score began. Soon she was joined by four others who danced around her. She was eventually replaced by one of the others, a theme that was repeated throughout “Sea.” Each woman had a turn as the center figure sometimes joined for a moment by another, but usually alone.
Magloire constructed “Sea” using a dance vocabulary that was strict classical ballet embroidered with undulating arms, writhing twisty hand gestures and some very demanding partnering in which these dancers proved more amazon than ingénue as they somersaulted over each other and performed high lifts, movements usually performed by male dancers. He found many variations in their gestures and floor patterns with all five cast members constantly on stage.
The result, wave imagery notwithstanding, was a constantly, imaginatively changing variation on a few themes dished out inventively, moods changing with each of the music’s four sections. Somehow Magloire managed to make the most of purposely limited material, his constantly swirling variations on just a few themes showed his skill at keeping the movements interesting.
The ebb and flow of this ballet certainly kept interest although “Sea” might have been more daring and outrageous, but that doesn’t seem to be neat, musical Magloire’s cup of tea.
“Sun” was a little jewel, a pièce d’occasion made for departing company member Madeleine Williams who is six months pregnant. Set to Robert Schumann’s “Romance for violin and piano” played by Mr. Na and Ms. Fader, “Sun” was a sweet farewell to this still lovely dancer whose large, open movement style filled the performance space. Her slow walking exit echoed the little dance that Sir Frederick Ashton choreographed for Dame Margot Fonteyn upon her retirement from the stage, a dance which ended similarly and movingly to “Sun” with Fonteyn walking off stage a metaphor for the end of her career.
Magloire’s ballets would benefit from theatrical lighting, but his costuming and musical choices cannot be faulted.
Miro Magloire’s New Chamber Ballet: “Sea” & “Sun” (May 28 & June 4, 2021)
James and Martha Duffy Performance Space, Mark Morris Dance Center
For tickets, visit http://www.eventbrite.com
Running time: one hour and five minutes