Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Peter and the Wolf"

Sharp & Fine presents
“Peter and the Wolf”
ODC Theater, San Francisco
October 24th, 2014
Pictured: Megan Kurashige, Theo Padouvas
Marissa Brown Photo: Shannon Kurashige

The story of “Peter and the Wolf” is a narrative tapestry; a challenging (and often dark) adventure complete with unexpected circumstances and an ever-changing landscape. What a perfect match for contemporary dance performance - a field that is very familiar with those characteristics and themes. Sharp & Fine’s new evening-length version of “Peter and the Wolf” is a delight - full of surprise moments, revelatory structural components and a rare choreographic vocabulary. Co-founders Megan Kurashige and Shannon Kurashige have teamed up with composer/musician Theo Padouvas to re-create this classic tale for a twenty-first century audience.

With the exception of the protagonist Peter (boisterously and spiritedly portrayed by Katharine Hawthorne), the remaining four characters were concurrently embodied by both a dancer and a musician. The four incredibly talented musicians in the cast played throughout the hour-long work, but had a specific connection to one of the animal personalities – cat, bird, duck and wolf. Having dance/musical counterparts was such a smart and amazing way to communicate the characters. It provided a depth and dimension that was surprising, in a good way. And as the piece unfolded, we started to see these characters not as having two performers, but as one cohesive entity.

The musicians were called upon to move too, and not just walking around the stage space. Carson Stein (dancer) and Theo Padouvas (cornet) danced a beautiful duet together, in which Padouvas held his own as a significant interdisciplinary performer. And the fight between the wolf and the duck was made more volatile by the participation of both the dancers and the musicians. Joshua Marshall (on tenor saxophone) and Padouvas circled each other menacingly, ready to pounce at any second. Because the character synthesis had been so strong throughout “Peter and the Wolf”, it was definitely missed in the final duet between the two title characters. Hawthorne and Marissa Brown (as the wolf) danced the vignette with verve and skill, but the saxophonist was not integrated into the picture until the end of the pas de deux. That duet seemed to be missing the extra ‘charge’ that the other scenes (where the dancers and musicians were equally involved) had.

Megan and Shannon Kurashige’s choreographic vocabulary in “Peter and the Wolf” was a compelling blend of contemporary and classical technique. It never felt like they were going in and out of these two traditions; instead, the contemporary fed off the classical and vice versa. The results were stunning. Duets were filled with gorgeous turned out extensions, grand rond de jambes and upper body curves. The movement variations created for Peter joined passé turns, relevés and broad leaps that ate up space. Hawthorne aptly handled this complex and beautiful choreography; her steadiness on demi-pointe (regardless of the position), an inspiration.     

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Now THIS is something I would truly enjoy seeing. Cool. I'm doing research for when I bring my theater and dance loving little girl to the bay area... which will be sooner than later hopefully!