Monday, July 18, 2011

Post:Ballet in "Seconds"

Post:Ballet, photography by Natalia Perez
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA
July 16, 2011

After Post:Ballet's inaugural performance last summer at the Cowell Theater, I wrote, "Post:Ballet is going to be a group to watch over the next decade".  This past weekend's follow-up season proved this comment to be accurate and perhaps an understatement.  Artistic Director, Robert Dekkers and his company offered a gorgeous "Seconds" program that spoke of the past and the present: two pieces returned from 2010, "Flutter" and "Happiness of Pursuit" (establishing a lineage of repertory) in addition to two world premieres, "Colouring" and "Interference Pattern" (the creation of new work).  This company's future looks brilliant - Post:Ballet is fantastic and a must-see for every ballet patron in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The first two pieces on the program were a testament to Dekkers' choreographic acumen and collaborative fervor.  "Colouring" illustrated that repetition is the heartbeat of artistic collaboration.  As Daniel Berkman performed his own musical composition, the dancers moved back and forth in the same pattern, meeting in the middle of the stage for a short choreographic sequence and then returning to their starting positions.  While both the music and dance were happening, visual artist Enrique Quintero was creating a visualscape (white paint on a black background).  As the piece continued, the movement phrase accumulated into a beautiful pas de deux while Quintero's scene also grew from simple lines and shapes into a cohesive picture.  Here, Dekkers and Quintero were both visually reflecting the true experience of artistic collaboration.  Hours and hours of working together may not always generate a vast quantity but the repetition does produce quality material.  Trying and risking over and over again reveals meaning and relevance between the chosen arts.  Quintero's final painting was the epitome of this collaborative journey.  A long white horizontal line separated the view into two spaces, with a very minimal expression on top of the line and a very ornate and involved tableau beneath the line.  Art's pulse and driving force is what happens beneath the surface, behind the scenes and before the stage.

Post:Ballet revisited "Flutter" (2010) again this season, though this time Dekkers opted to set the work on Daniel Marshalsay, Jonathan Mangosing and Christian Squires (last year this ballet was danced by three women).  With this significant casting change, one would expect that "Flutter" would read differently.  True, it was different, not better, not worse, but allowed a second and unique exposure to a familiar piece.  The polyphonic interplay of his movement lines had a new attack; the intonation was more forceful, yet not at all aggressive.  The articulation that Christian Squires has in his torso is amazing - he is able to understand his physicality as both dance and music.  One thing that remained consistently true about "Flutter" was Dekkers' intuitive musicality; his knowledge of musical form and his ability to manifest his musical understanding into his choreography.      

Dekkers has assembled an impressive group of dancers: all are technically sound, artistically mature and compelling to watch.  But Beau Campbell deserves particular acknowledgement for her accomplishment in "Seconds".  As a dance artist with Post:Ballet in both this and last year's season, she has clearly been pursuing, developing and honing the performance side of her art.  Campbell's technical strength was and is without question, but she seems to know and realize that flawless technique is only one part (albeit a crucial one) of the performance equation.  Her theatrical diligence is paying off - she absolutely shone onstage.   

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