If I said to you, "Hey, let's go spend our Friday night watching a ballet based on the poetry of monks!" You'd probably look at me like I was crazy.
Too bad. You would've missed a great show.
BalletMet's penultimate performance of the 2009-2010 season, Carmina Burana is, indeed, a ballet based on the poetry of monks, set to the music of Carl Orff. But these aren't your typical monks; these guys wrote about love, passion, drunkeness, and all that other stuff monks aren't supposed to know anything about it. BalletMet's stupendous company exuded eroticism and passion as they performed the bravura, almost hour long work.
BalletMet hasn't performed Dwight Rhoden's intense, epic piece in six years, and it's easy to see why. The company is onstage practically every moment, and not in the neat postures of classical ballet's corps. These dancers jumped, spun, leaped, and climbed on and over the set, the stage, and prop benches (sometimes even doing pirouettes on the benches.). Lead by the duo of Olivia Clark and Jimmy Orrante (whose pas de deux to In truitina--in the balance-- was magnificient), the featured pairs and a corps of women lead the audience on a never-to-be-forgotten romp through love, passion, debauchery, death, gluttony and excess--in short, the gallery of life.
All of the dancers did superb work, but meriting special mention are Emily Gotschall, Adrienne Benz, Jackson Sarver, Andres Estevez, Bethany Lee, Austin Finley, Andrew Notarile and Annie Mallonnee. Gotschall, Benz, Sarver, and Estevez seem to have instant spotlights on them whenever they are onstage, and they delivered fantastic performances tonight. And Clarke and Orrante were pitch perfect as the leaders of this romp, with Clark being especially seductive and entrancing.
Carmina, however, was the second great piece of the evening. The night opened with a world premier by company dancer Jimmy Orrante (The Great Gatsby), entitled "Coming Into View". Eight dancers--Olivia Clark, Emily Gotschall, Annie Mallonee, Christine Mangia, Kerri Riccardi, Jon Drake, Andres Estevez and Gabriel Smith--performed this contemporary work about relationships, interconnectedness and individuality, set to the music of Rene Aubry and Gabriel Smith (yes, he also performed in this work. Multi-talented, for sure.). The contemporary costumes--khakis and polos for the men, and flowing dance dresses for the women (who also wore flat technique shoes) perfectly matched the tone of the piece. The section for all women, and the lovely pas and male solo, are worth special mention.
This night of passion, athleticism and artistry is a perfect bill. Don't miss it. Carmina Burana, with "Coming Into View", will be performed through March 13 at the Riffe Center in downtown Columbus. Tickets can be purchased at www.balletmet.org