Review: DK's 'Passionate Puccini'


4.5 stars

Dance Kaleidoscope; Indiana Repertory Theatre mainstage; March 3-6.

An enduring humanity surrounds DK’s

visualization of Puccini’s Act I duet from Madama Butterfly

(2001) and Puccini’s People (1992) set on eight

different Puccini arias. David Hochoy’s story telling in each

case is so intimately tied to life transcending time and place, we

become deeply involved in our own experiences as we witness the

interactions and relationships between dancers and internalize

individuals coping.

By extrapolating four couples into the

intimate wedding duet between Pinkerton, the American naval officer

who is pledging his undying love for his young Japanese bride, we

witness over and over again similar “duets” with four

females totally trusting with leaps into the ready arms of four

males. And we witness four males in macho attitudes foreshadowing a

wrenching ending. Laura Glover’s exquisite lighting matches the

pulsing tidal waves of Puccini’s music as a counterpoint to the

dancers whose drama sweeps in and out of configurations as if trying

to escape the inevitable.

With Puccini’s People,

Hochoy sets us up as voyeurs in a street scene teeming with people

whose eyes we want to avoid yet we are drawn into their slice of life

moment. Each dancer exquisitely cuts and burnishes a dimensional

character. To Vissi d’arte Zach Young emerges cocoon-like from

a previous state into a new being, fragile yet beautiful. To O mio

babbino caro Caitlin Swihart defies infirmity on crutches to extend

her reach with arm movements simulating flight. With Un bel di

Brandon Comer emulates the agony of Madama Butterfly. Jillian Godwin

and George Salinas take Nessun dorma o a new dimension as a raggedy

couple high on drugs. Liberty Harris is a peerless sophisticate with

feet and hands ensconced in shopping bags, as the ultimate

materialistic Musetta in Quando men vo.

E lucevan le stele becomes drama within

drama as Mariel Greenlee, entering as a crone, escapes into a mirror

to reflect her former beautiful self. Kenoth Shane Patton, bound hand

and foot with rope wiggles free only to get hung. The apotheosis to

Humming chorus from Madama Butterfly calls each to re-enter, die, and

rise heavenward, leaving behind the trappings of their less than

idyllic life.

The program opened with the world

premiere of “Ancient Airs and Dances” set to music by

Ottorino Respighi. Its courtly architectural movements carried us

into a respite from the rush of the day truly to sit back, relax and

enjoy. Costumes by Cheryl Sparks and Barry Doss earn mention.


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