A Nod to the Ancient Religions
They used to say that there are three taboo topics: sex, politics, and religion. Perhaps fittingly so, since more often than not they are irrevocably intertwined. Further, given that they seem to make up a large portion of the foundation of what makes this cray cray world of ours go ’round – even in today’s modern technophilic times – their recurring themes naturally abound.
Take the latest production of the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB): Apollo & Carmina Burana. (Your Hedonista attended Opening Night this past Friday as media.) This production involves two separate performances, separated by a single intermission. First, Apollo, with music by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by the late George Balanchine. Apollo is the ancient Greek and Roman God of, well, many things, including the arts. In this dance, Apollo interacts with three of his artistic muses: Callioppe (poetry and its rhythms), Polyhymnia (mime), and Terpsichore (dance). The stage is bare, save for a stool upon which Apollo sits for a time and three props used by the muses to distinguish which muse is which (a lyre, mask, and scroll). The backdrop is a deep blue, perhaps to symbolize the heavens (all that was missing was some dry ice or cloud formations). The dance is an otherwordly hybridization between classicism and modernity – a truly lovely piece.
Next, to balance out the lightness of the heavens, is the delicious darkness of hell … well, purgatory, at least (or even real life). Carmina Burana is based on a collection of medieval poems and literary dramas designed to satirize the Catholic Church. With music by the late Carl Orff and choreography by Kent Stowell, a world is created in which the puppets are the people and the puppeteer is the great Wheel of Fortune (a very, very cool prop designed by Ming Cho Lee). Beautifully choreographed and splendidly sensuous – I especially enjoyed the lightly sequined nude body suits worn by the dancers to signify sweaty, even carnal nudity. With the costumes seemingly gone, one could focus on the form and interaction – “raw” ballet, if you will. And the singing by the Seattle Choral Company added an entirely additional dimension rarely experienced during a ballet performance. (In short, a real treat.)
Finally, hats off must go to Conductor Emil de Cou, who seems supernatural himself in his abilities to conduct both the orchestra and the Seattle Choral Company, all while the dancers do their thing in the midst of it all (literally).
Apollo & Carmina runs April 12th to the 22nd, 2012. Tickets range in price from $28 to $168.
So if you like a lil’ lustiness with your power and worship, this latest by the PNB should not be missed, dear hedonists.