Mirage is Peter Martins' contribution to the extraordinarily productive Architecture of Dance (Spring, 2010) festival and is built on the co-commissioned score of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Violin Concerto. Above the seven couples in asymmetrical, muted unitards in greys and blues floats Santiago Calatrava's spoked, double half-circle creation spreading its 'wings' and quietly responding to the interacting couples below. From a lead couple to two, then a grouping of three finally joined by a background of four, Martins -- noted for his inventive and expansive pas de deux -- weaves his dancers through the sometimes swirling uptempo and sometimes quietly contemplative four sections of the ballet: Mirage, Pulse I, Pulse II, and Adieu.
Danced to David Lang's hauntingly resonant score (for piano and string quartet) of the same name, Plainspoken presents four couples in a series of striking vignettes. The first, incorporating everyday movements--running, walking, stretching--and with echoes of square dance patterns, is followed by dance as schoolyard games, a display of youthful exuberance and energy. The mood then changes as a lone woman is confronted, first by one man, then three, then four, in increasingly intense encounters. The ballet's penultimate section consists of several dramatic pas de deux depicting ever-changing relationships--first meetings, flirtation, discovery, departing, and return. The piece concludes with a rousing finale reuniting all four couples. Choreographer Benjamin Millipied has said that the ballet "was inspired by each dancer's personality. After all, they are my friends and colleagues."
Hallelujah Junction: The silhouettes of two pianists, their pianos facing each other, appear through dim light above the stage. Three dancers in practice clothes, a male soloist in all black and a principal couple in all white, appear in a spotlight in the center of the stage. As the stage floods with light, they dance with elongated and intertwining movements, the pianists still barely visible in the dark above them. Four women in all black and then four men in all white join the lead dancers, taking turns surrounding them and mirroring their steps.
This mostly fast-paced ballet features a quiet pas de deux for the principal couple, a jazzy duet for the male principal and soloist, and multiple turns and explosive leaps for the male soloist. Each of the four couples takes turns zigzagging the stage with lightening-speed partnering and high lifts. The ballet concludes when the male soloist unites with all the dancers on stage in an arresting moment washed in shimmering light.
Visit the Mirage, Plainspoken, and Hallelujah Junction website: