Four enjoyable pieces from Washington Ballet, emphasizing the strength of the company’s ensemble work. In Mark Morris’s Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes, an elegiacal group piece sprinkled with some challenges to traditional gender roles, and accompanied by Glenn Sales at the piano, I was impressed by fifth-season company member Zachary Hackstock, who danced his solo breaks with especial power and brio. But reprising this piece from only last season seems an odd programming choice. After the first break: a clean reading of Christopher Wheeldon’s Morphoses—with its interesting lighting effects achieved with cyclorama and travelers—by the quartet of Sona Kharatian, Luis R. Torres, Jade Payette, and Jared Nelson; then a fluid duet by Kharatian and Nelson in Cor Perdut, by Nacho Duato. The evening closes with the spunky Baker’s Dozen, a dance for twelve by Twyla Tharp. The strongest effect in this piece are the masses of dancers rippling across the stage, dressed in white, the women in low character shoes. It’s a casual piece, perhaps to a fault, as it doesn’t seem to come to a proper ending. Pianist Sales didn’t seem to have the right mojo for playing Willie “The Lion” Smith.
- Genius2 mixed bill, Washington Ballet, Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, Washington
The refurbished Eisenhower Theater is quite beautiful, the walls faced with warm wood acoustic panels and the seats equipped with the generous armrests that also featured in the Opera House renovation. The awkward enclosure for lighting instruments on the face of the balcony has been removed. Unfortunately, the theater’s setup is more than a little clumsy for musicians playing from the pit, as there appears to be no backstage access (granted, the Ike doesn’t serve the same purposes as the larger space); house management has to shepherd them through the auditorium at intermissions. Although I miss the interlocking E’s of the red act curtain (a plain blue one replaces it), the decoration on the proscenium provides an allusive pattern.