Audiences will experience raw, visceral contemporary dance in a triple bill of works performed alongside the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The triple bull of modern dance drama includes a unique take on the wildly popular Boléro, a symbol of the #MeTooMovement in Ibsen’s House and an emotional piece inspired by a Balinese flower ritual, Bloom.
This production tells the story of a ballet dancer from her childhood class to a professional career. The piece begins with students from the Otto M. Budig Academy at the barre. Those dancers are joined on stage by progressively older dancers until the Main Company artists enter. The dancers, all clad in red, perform an increasingly driving work that plays to Ravel’s iconic score. The dancers also improvise and perform moves and tricks that show off their specific athletic strengths and talents.
The tour de force ballet addresses Victorian repression of women through five female characters. Women of the time were often forced to choose sacrifice over self-fulfillment. While they were forced to live in ‘a man’s world,’ the dramatic tension of his plays comes from their realization of and struggle to break free from societal constraints and expectations.
While the costumes reflect attire worn during the late 19th century-long skirts and suits and overcoats — they are not stuffy or heavy but flow with the movement. The costumes worn by the female dancers were also distinctly designed for each character. The scenic design by Sandra Woodall, includes a dramatic, illuminated window, a reference to a window in Ibsen’s house. It is a window into a world long ago, a world where women either acquiesced to expectations or rebelled for independence.
Set to a violin concerto, Bloom tells the story of Lopez Ochoa, who first encountered puja while visiting the island as a tourist at a guesthouse. The daily ritual of reverence was the inspiration for this ballet. The composer explained that flowers were put on the guests’ doorsteps as a sign of honor and so the divine will protect visitors. She wanted to capture the gratitude and humility of that offering, but at the same time, like all rituals including dance, there is rigor, dedication, and a devotion to that ritual. I wanted to capture both energies. The women, dressed in red, perform the role of the flower, male dancers are their protectors in this fast-paced, compelling work that also uses martial-arts movement in the choreography.
Tickets for Director’s Cut are available at cballet.org