Ballet BC’s 2017 opener, “Program 1” was a spectacular mind-bender of a show. A purely contemporary two-part effort by choreographers Cayetano Soto and Johan Ingers, it dug deep into two of the most relevant themes humanity is constantly confronted with, in today’s volatile world- fear and revolution.
Cayetano Soto’s Eight Years of Silence delved poetically into the beauty of grief and the terror of fear. The choreography was full of anguish and created extremely rich waves of sadness. Soto’s dancers were dressed in metallic, full sleeved leotards, and made strong geometric shapes, twisting their bodies to achieve acrobatic feats. There were a lot of lifts and multiple duets that told stories of heartbreak, relationships breaking, and loved ones leaving.
Soto milked the beautiful, original, classical music even when it was at its slowest. His choreography had powerful motion, it was restrained within the strong shapes it created, and was closer to the ground than to the air above. The restraint of the dancers harnessed the power of their strong bodies to convey the crippling nature of sadness and fear. These moments eventually give way to long and languid movements that demonstrated the acts of letting go and submitting to pain. Soto was thus able to accurately explore sadness and pain on multiple levels.
Swedish choreographer Johan Inger’s B.R.I.S.A. was the perfect complement to Soto’s dark and glamourous piece. It was joyous, carefree, full of reckless abandon, and intensely quirky. The set and costumes shared a palette that was earthy and rustic, and recreated the blinding heat of summer in a tropical utopia.
We loved the variation of pace and styles in B.R.I.S.A. Inger illustrated powerful, untamed sexual energies by creating strong winds by fans and hair dryers of various sizes on stage, simulating the giddiness of orgasms and joy. The music was a refreshing choice, as well. A Black Swan track and an iconic Nina Simone number had us dancing in our seats. There were elements of African dance in the choreography that followed the drum beats into the ground. This was coupled with Broadway tap elements and a lot of group dancing. There was a particular moment that took our breath away, when the dancer in red (our favourite of the night) was carried by the other dancers and made to fly around the stage, swooping up and under.
There were some new faces in the troupe this time around and they brought a recognisably renewed energy to the pieces. All in all, “Program 1” was worthy of the many standing ovations it got this weekend, and we can’t wait to see what Ballet BC has in store for us after this confident start to the season!