Grandeur in the Contour

May 30, 2011

“Contours” revealed that Harvard Ballet Company indeed has the dancers, though not always the choreography, to best showcase their talent.

Guest choreographer Boyko Dossev’s “Bolero” began with solos tailored to individual strengths, coupled with haunting, repetitive music. But it lacked coherence at certain moments, especially when the dancers flaunted their jumps during an across-the-floor section. Nevertheless, from the simple toe-tap motif onward, this raw dance remained tight in its intensity and togetherness. Elizabeth C. Walker ‘s ‘11 promenade a la seconde in her solo was particularly stunning.

In a light, romantic duet, “Have You Ever,” Merritt Moore ‘11 and Kevin Shee ‘11 demonstrated admirable technicality.  A lovely string of lovestruck lifts and holds, the pas de deux had everything except choreographic movement.  Even with the couple fluttering across stage, the two seemed constrained by the stagnant nature of their choreographed relationship.

HBC drew from its past, present, and even beyond the Harvard community – notably, Harvard alumnae Larissa Koch ’08-’09 and Ashley A. Chung HLS ‘12.

Koch’s “A Better Half, Held” was an interesting exception to the night’s more standard choreographic moves.  It inverted traditional lines, creating more angular figures.  Starting from an almost cliché series of formations, couplings, and plots, Koch surprised in her ability to build something innovative out of understandable movement.

Chung should be noted both for her choreography and her performance in her new work, “Your Ex-Lover is Dead.”  Though slightly drawn out and melodramatic, the most powerful segment was a seven-person machine, a Pilobolus-type creation that floated upstage with eerie, incomprehensible purpose.  This “subtle kind of epic,” as the piece was described in the program, concluded the night with evidence that in the individualized ballet world, the whole may be more than the parts.

Despite a performance of choreographic ups and downs, “Contours” truly brought together its stars and rising talent. Jun Shepard ‘14 wowed all with her enthusiasm in “Untitled”, while Florence Kuhl’s ‘14 performance in “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” was stunningly poised.  With its league of talented seniors and up-and-coming freshman, HBC showed diversity and versatility, performing both classics and premieres.  HBC has something for everyone.

The Harvard Art Review Dance Board

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