BALLET PRELJOCAJ at Power Center For The Performing Arts

04.10.19
Ballet Preljocaj
Broadway World

From the moment the dancers in the contemporary dance group, Ballet Preljocaj walked onto the stage, they managed to hold the audience in their grasp. Executing a combination of flawless moves founded in classical ballet, yet infused with athleticism and stark, modern moves, it was a captivating performance. Angelin Preljocaj founded Ballet Preljocaj in 1984; since 1996 the company has been based in Aix-en-Provence, France. The troupe members are a melting pot, hailing from such countries as Russia, Albania, Italy, and Australia. On March 26th, they performed for the fourth time in Ann Arbor, Michigan as part of The University Musical Society's winter season.

They performed: La Fresque from the Traditional Chinese tale, "The Painting on the Wall." The plot focuses on what can ensue when a young traveler named Chu becomes entranced by a girl in a painting. As he enters the world behind the painting, a series of various dances unfold, blurring the line between reality and imagination.


The dancers have clearly been well trained in classical ballet, as evidenced from their magnificent jumps, turns, and extensions. Nearly every movement has at its root a traditional ballet step, yet Angelin Preljocaj's choreography constantly surprises with his own unique modern twists. An example of this is the contrast between stillness that we see as the five women in the painting pose, then immediately begin bobbing their heads up and down while sitting, their waist-length hair spinning around them. Verity Jacobsen, who plays the young woman, provides an ideal focal point, her long, sinewy frame smoothly transitioning between a breathtaking pas de deux, then dances with the other women in the painting and male dancers as well. She fills the entire stage in a solo where she is given the chance to shine.

The scenery, though primitive, is extremely innovative and adds to the excitement. At one point, there is a backdrop that looks like strands of hair. A contemporary pas de deux between the character of Chu and the woman he is wooing is made even more stunning by a backdrop of a star-filled sky. The two move like sea creatures in the night, morphing into a variety of breathtaking shapes.
 
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