On Valentine’s Day, lovers and friends join together in a celebration of all that is romantic and beautiful in the world. What better place to celebrate that occasion than at a performance of the Carolina Ballet? To extend that feeling of love and romance, one only needs to take advantage of the three remaining performances of the company’s current program. Twice on Feb. 21st and again on Feb. 22nd, the company will present master choreographer George Balanchine’s masterpiece, The Four Temperaments.
Balanchine once said that the Allegro Brillante contained everything he knew “about classical ballet in 13 minutes.” By beginning the Carolina Ballet’s show with this strong and romantic piece danced to music by the great Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the company places a defining balletic moment front and center. The dance is one that showcases not only the classical ballet’s most beautiful steps and underlines the tremendous strength of this art form, but it also provides an opportunity for artistic director to place principal dancers Margaret Severin-Hansen and Richard Krusch front and center.
The Allegro is lovely and spring-like, matching the light and perfectly precise movements of the exceptionally talented Severin-Hansen and her capable partner. The delicate and fluttering port de bras, as well as the rapid battement reminds one of petals aroused by a spring breeze, giving one hope that the winter will soon be over and warmer weather will soon tease jonquils out of the ground.
The second piece of the performance, The Double, is a fascinating piece of choreography created by Robert Weiss with music by César Frank. Danced by soloist Alicia Fabry and company member Alyssa Pilger, two ballerinas matched so perfectly in physical appearance that they almost appear to be twins, the piece is a psychological question which asks whether everyone has an alter ego, a double, as it were. As with the other pieces in this “collection,” the dancers are dressed simply and the stage is adorned only by lights.
The performance is split in half, two halves of a whole as are the two dancers. The first half of the dance is done as mirror images, while the second half celebrates the individuality of the personas. One is reminded of the mirror image theory of Jacques Lacan, whose theory purported that human beings derive their first understanding of the self when they gaze upon their reflection in a mirror. The dance details this split in characteristics via the accompaniment of César Frank’s Violin Sonata in A Major as performed on violin and piano; first, quietly and subtly, and then in a more tempestuous manner.
After a short intermission, the second half of the evening’s performance comes alive with a somber and artistic piece entitled Grosse Fuge, highlighting the music of Beethoven and choreographed by Robert Weiss. The dancers, dressed in simple black and white, tend to move back and forth, blending with each other, acting as counterparts, intertwining, creating a visual dance landscape that moves in much the same ebb and flow as the fugue itself.
The three principal dancers Richard Krusch, Lara O’Brien, and Marcelo Martinez create a montage of both contrast and tension on many different levels. The three are perfectly balanced in strengths and movement that is both sensual and profound. The piece is as beautifully danced as Beethoven could have imagined.
From the sober tones of the Fuge, the performance moves into the bright and energetic Tarantella, another dance choreographed by Balanchine. Performed with vigor and huge enthusiasm by principal Jan Burkhard and soloist Nikolai Smirnov, the Tarantella is a pas de deux that celebrates Italy and its tradition of dancers who perform in the town square for offerings tossed into their tambourines. With plenty of petit and grand allegro movements that celebrate the quickness of the dance, both Burkhard and Smirnov bring bravos from the crowd that are well deserved.
The final dance of the evening, The Four Temperaments, is George Balanchine’s triumph, a dance of seven movements that depict the medieval belief that humans and our temperaments are connected to the four elements (air, water, earth, fire) and to the four humors (black bile, phlegm, blood and bile) that make up the body. It is one of Balanchine’s earliest ballets and most would argue that it’s one of his best. The Carolina Ballet’s dancers, all dressed in black and white, dance in fine form, blending their angles and lines, weaving under and through each other’s arms, dancing in pas de deux and in solos and in pas de trois, pas de quatre, and in many other combinations that depict the various humours and elements. It’s a fascinating ballet, full of metaphor and intricate movements that highlight the best of the dancers’ skills.
As the cast takes their final bow, the lovers and friends and family in the audience celebrate the gift given to them by the ballet’s corps and appreciate yet another wonderful performance under the direction of Carolina Ballet artistic director Robert Weiss. With three shows left in the 2014-15 season, there is still time for you to experience the magic of the ballet in Raleigh.
SECOND OPINION: Feb. 11th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Chris Vitiello: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/carolina-ballet-the-four-temperaments/Event?oid=4329416; and Jan. 31st Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/2015/01/31/4517383/a-preview-of-carolina-ballets.html.
The Carolina Ballet presents THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS at 2 and 8 p.m. Feb. 21 and 2 p.m. Feb. 22 in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $34.97-$83.55 (including fees), except $16.01 for college students with ID, purchased by phone at 919-719-0900 up to the day of the performance or at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium box office, starting one hour before curtain.
Carolina Ballet Box Office: 919-719-0900 or http://www.carolinaballet.com/get-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/836166.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-719-0900 or http://www.carolinaballet.com/get-tickets/group-sales/.
SHOW: https://www.carolinaballet.com/program/four-temperaments and https://www.facebook.com/events/589950017770500/.
2014-15 SEASON: https://www.carolinaballet.com/program/2014-2015-season.
PRESENTER: http://www.carolinaballet.com/, https://www.facebook.com/CarolinaBallet, https://twitter.com/carolinaballet, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolina_Ballet.
The Four Temperaments (1946 ballet): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Temperaments_%28ballet%29 (Wikipedia).
George Balanchine (Russian-born American choreographer, 1904-83): http://balanchine.com/ (George Balanchine Trust) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Balanchine (Wikipedia).
Robert Weiss (Carolina Ballet‘s artistic director): http://www.carolinaballet.com/pages/staff-directory-entry/robert-weiss (Carolina Ballet bio) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Weiss_%28choreographer%29 (Wikipedia).
Dawn Reno Langley is a Durham, NC-based author who writes novels, poetry, children’s books, and nonfiction books on many subjects, as well as theater reviews. She is also Dean of General Education and Developmental Studies at Piedmont Community College in Roxboro, where she oversees the theater program at the Kirby Cultural Arts Complex, and a member of the Person County Arts Council. To read all of Dawn Langley’s Triangle Review reviews online at Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/dawn-reno-langle/. To read more of her writings, click http://dawnrenolangley.com/.