Sarah Kaufman, Trey McIntyre's Refreshing Splash of Samba At Wolf Trap (Washington Post, August 10)
Photographs by Jonas Lundqvist
“Tall and tan and young and lovely” Michele Jemenez proceeded to gloriously dance to the most popular Bossa Nova ever written. In her last Washington-area performance before joining the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam, her movements in “Girl from Ipanema” were slow and reserved at first, graceful and elegant. When she noticed two (colleague) bystanders admiring her from a distance, she was instantly transformed into a dancing diva. Sexy, shimmering white dresses for the senhoras and chic white suits for senhors were contributed by designer Janet Elam and added exotic, ‘local’ charm.
Just, the second dance on the program, swiftly changed the mood after the uplifting Samba. Just, which premiered in February of this year with the Oregon Ballet Theater, is choreographed to the 1952 Set of Five for Violin, Piano, and Percussion by American composer Henry Cowell (1897-1965), one of the earliest American modernists in music and always interested in rhythm as music’s key ingredient. The combination of music and dance make for an interplay of melancholy tone clusters and melodies and sophisticated dance movements. Light beige shorts for men and lingerie-like leotards for women accentuated the dancing figure. At 6’5”, Kirov-trained Artur Sultanov not only towered over the other dancers but got to show off his remarkable skills in a slow solo fashioned specifically for him.
After the intermission, the company presented Go Out – a new work created for the entire troupe. It is both dance and spectacle, with the main character a woman in a tantalizing crimson dress (Alison Roper). Enigmatic and mysterious, she is always present. Whether Fate or Death or something else, altogether, is for the audience to decide. Gospel ("I Wonder Will We Meet Again") emitted from the speakers gave the flair of spirituals but set an ominous mood. Amid sounds of bluegrass the dancers enacted a rural play on longing, loss, and death – with beauty, poverty, and dry, dusty streets viscerally reeking through the creaks. Alison Roper and her partner John Michael Schert danced superbly – and the usual standing ovations were actually well deserved.