Chase Brock’s choreography has always worked well when he had a story to tell. His work in musical theater (Be More Chill, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark), opera (Roméo et Juliette at the Metropolitan Opera) and story ballets (Brock’s recent The Girl With the Alkaline Eyes) were all well-observed and special. In fact, he is a fine storyteller with a good eye for using dance and gesture to tell his tales which bodes well for more success on and off Broadway.
His more abstract ballets for The Chase Brock Experience, such as its current presentation at Theatre Row, The Four Seasons to the Vivaldi score (a revival from 2006), did not fare quite as well. Despite the fact that The Four Seasons had some spoken text (by David Zellnick) and an environmental subtext, the majority of the work was a pretty, but slightly anemic balletic expression of the famous (over-used?) score.
A row of costume changes hung on a pipe across the back of the stage from which the dancers chose different garments for each of the four sections of The Four Seasons (different colors for each season—costumes by Dane Laffrey who also did the simple set).
At first, Roz G (Sarah Bowden, a good actress), a stereotypical TV talking head, was seen sitting at modern looking desk checking laptop and making notes. Computer beeps and blips sounded on a soundtrack that also contained cricket chirps and bird calls.
Her exit brought on the dancers who swooped onto the stage in brightly colored costumes, filling the stage with soft jumps, spins and friendly partnering, personifying Vivaldi’s bouncy “Spring.” The adagio movement brought couples together and the brisk finale some sweet quick-footed steps and odd, angular arm gestures.
Roz G began a series of pronouncements that spoke innocently of the weather, slipping in reports of mild problems with the environment. These interjections allowed the dancers to change in the dark at the back of the stage (bright and moody lighting by Tyler Micoleau) into costumes off the stage-wide rack.
Changed into beachwear for the “Summer” Concerto, the dancers became more touchy-feely and spritely, interrupted by the shocking discovery of a dead bird. Roz G’s telecasts became more and more dire.
“Autumn” was rendered with touches of tension and tougher partnering while “Winter” brought snow (blown bits of white confetti) which turned into forebodingly frightful black snow, its implications obvious, the dancers wearing skin-baring black outfits.
Although the message was a tad lead-footed, the dancing was anything but. The twelve dancers acquitted themselves well giving vitality to Chase’s steps and gestures.
The Chase Brock Experience is the Resident Dance Company of Theater Row.
The Four Seasons (through December 8, 2019)
The Chase Brock Experience
Theatre Row, 310 West 42nd Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit http://www.telecharge.com
Running time: 60 minutes without an intermission