Another weekend of dance! For the last weekend in February, RB took in the Mark Morris Dance Group at the Harris and went back for seconds with Joffrey‘s The Merry Widow. One reaffirmed my roots and love of a good story ballet, the other challenged, but left me wanting something more.
Joffrey’s Widow, upon a second viewing, was just as delightful as the first time. The dancers and Chicago Sinfonietta delivered a fun romp to a packed house and a standing ovation. Although I was set to see the same cast from opening night, a few changes were made and Fabrice Calmels was dancing the role of Count Danilo with Victoria Jaiani instead of Miguel Angel Blanco. I’m not sure why the change was made, but I was delighted to see Calmels in this comedic role after his dramatic turn last season in Othello. The pairing of these two is an exquisite combination that keeps evolving with every performance. (There was a moment in the last act when Calmels enters and crosses to Jaiani and touches her shoulders as he puts her wrap on. Her reaction as she realizes that it is the Count and that he loves her is heartmeltingly beautiful). A mishap in the first act lead to the replacement of Yumelia Garcia and Graham Maverick with April Daly and Mauro Vilanueva. After a few moments to readjust, the audience got back into the story and was treated to a lovely performance by both. Shout outs are due to Aaron Rogers and John Mark Giragosian for their gravity-defying jumps and precision tours – and Jaiani’s flexibility and her to-die-for extensions. A speedy recovery to all the injured dancers!
RB‘s experience with Mark Morris was a bit different. I don’t know if it was disappointment that they didn’t perform Romeo and Juliet, On Motifs of Shakespeare (I was really looking forward to it) as originally scheduled, or if it was simply over my head artistically, but the program did not engage me and, quite frankly, left me bored. The dancers moved well, but I didn’t see anything I hadn’t seen before. I’m not sure what I expected from Morris’ more recent works. There were things to like about each of the three pieces (two of the taller female dancers, the humor in The Muir, the movement of the flowing dresses in Petrichor, the set in Socrates and the gorgeous voice of tenor Michael Kelly), but overall it just didn’t work for me. The death sequence in Socrates was the most visually stunning scene of the evening, but even this had my colleague begging, “please die faster”. I admit I was excited to see the Mark Morris in person when he bowed and admire him for his contributions to the dance community for 30 years…even if I don’t “get it”.