Gennadi’s Choice marks a new chapter for Atlanta Ballet as the company is shaped by the new artistic direction of Gennadi Nedvigin. The first mixed bill of his inaugural season, the program provides a glimpse of his commitment to classical ballet and contemporary works with a strong classical basis. It features excerpts of Paquita, Denouement by Gemma Bond, and Vespertine by Liam Scarlett.
Paquita’s sunny foray into classicism showcases Christian Clark’s calm strength and finesse and Rachel Van Buskirk’s precision, musicality, and creativity. Variations also highlight Ashley Wegmann’s long lines, serenity, and sumptuous phrasing, Monika Haczkiewicz’s elastic jumps and balance, and Jackie Nash’s projection and pointe work.
In Denouement, a premiere by Gemma Bond, the company evinces its continuing strength in one-act, abstract, contemporary works. With themes of time and choice as inspiration, Bond constructs a detailed work that casts a quiet, increasing tight spell. Imagery recalling Swan Lake surfaces at times, including frequent, wing-like motions of the arms and bourrées conveying a struggle for freedom. James Whiteside’s costumes also contribute to these echoes as strips of pale fabric forming skirts sometimes appear to be feathers fluttering in the wind. Predominantly cold, blue lighting by Joseph R. Walls coupled with scrims to suggest doorways and distance adds dimensions to the drama.
Vespertine, the North American premiere of a work Scarlett created on the Norwegian National Ballet in 2013, likewise highlights Atlanta Ballet’s adeptness in one-act, contemporary works. In Vespertine, Scarlett is at his most poignant when melding contrasting movement elements—grounded, historically-inspired and naturalistic steps with the abandon, force, and freedom of contemporary ballet. Adding to this is his gift of charging small gestures with intensity and layers of meaning. As in Denouement, the lighting design—here by Michael Hulls– has leading role in the drama: clusters of lights hovering above stage, most evocative when dimly glowing, represent both chandeliers and a canopy of magnified stars.
Gennadi’s Choice repeats on March 18 at 8 p.m. and March 19 at 2 p.m.
Disclosure: Atlanta Ballet Dancer Alessa Rogers is a contributing writer at 4dancers.