Battle of the Sexes pushes the envelope in ballet performances
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 20, 2012 18:02
Ballet and dubstep are two things that aren't usually mentioned in the same sentence, but the mash-up of traditional and contemporary by Orlando Ballet's Battle of the Sexes III has people talking. As part of this year's month long ArtsFest, the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre hosted the last installment of artistic director Robert Hill's Battle of the Sexes. The two-hour performance featured music that ranged from techno to Victorian with the respective range in style of dance.
The raw and moody feel of the show was introduced before the show even began as dancers warmed up on stage with the curtain up. The bare motif resonated throughout the entirety of the show, from the costumes to the stage. Though there were some props involved, the removal of distractions like lavish costumes for the most part helped bring the focus in on the dancers and the dancing.
"I do like to explore different themes, sometimes metaphorical sometimes literal, but the most important thing is the dancing," artistic director Robert Hill said. "When someone comes to Orlando Ballet they come to see good dancing."
The show unfolded like somewhat of a sample platter of dance. The show started off on a mellow note, with the first four pieces staying at a slow tempo with fluid movements and music that sounded often times like the same genre of Gregorian chants.
There were silent pieces of usually one or two dancers sprinkled throughout the show. Without the presence of music, the focus is painstakingly precise on the dancer's movements and choreography.
Sara Steffes, a season ticket holder of Orlando Ballet and previous attendee of the Orlando Ballet School was pleased with the silent pieces.
"I've been to the other two Battle of the Sexes events so I wasn't surprised when there wasn't music in some pieces, but I did find the silent ones tasteful and enjoyable," Steffes said.
Some of the pieces were rampant with emotion where it appeared as if the dancers were overcome with the music like the piece "Solemnity" that featured a popular song by composer Clint Mansell. That specific piece along with "Temptation" was played by pianist Arcadian Broad onstage on a grand piano.
As is common in modern dance, the chemistry between the dancers got a little steamy at times, especially during the bondage-inspired piece titled "Warm Leatherette."
"It allows for people to explore different relationships between people and with themselves be it male-female, male-male, female-female, or solo and allows for a lot of possibility," Hill said on the ballet and chemistry of the dancers.
Jack Isaacson, an avid attendee of the ballet and father of a dancer in the performance called the show "exhilarating." He cited the last piece from Act I titled "Jammin'" that featured all male dancers in fishnet crop tops and black boxer briefs as one of his favorites. "It was definitely an eye-opener," Isaacson said.
The dancers were also not afraid to make fun of themselves, with one piece featuring a dancer pretending to not have control over her awkward limbs. She eventually brings a tambourine onstage and hilarity ensues.
But it's not all fun and games. Production manager Larry Rayburn faced some roadblocks during pre-production of the show.
"It's a sort of controlled chaos. Of course things go wrong like not having enough tanks for the fog or the lights continuing to short out, but you work around it," Rayburn said.
Fortunately, the pressure doesn't get the best of him.
"I feel like I work well under stress," Rayburn said. "I don't seek it out in my life but for some reason I find that as a creative person, I thrive under the stress."
Although the Battle of the Sexes series is over, more envelope-pushing events are to come from Orlando Ballet this season. To learn more about Battle of the Sexes III or upcoming shows visit orlandoballet.org.