Last night I went to a modern ballet performed by the Rebecca Davis Dance Company in center city, at the Prince theater. What intrigued me the most was Rebecca's background as a dancer / Fox School of Business undergrad here at Temple. It's really inspiring for me to see creatives who get a business education in order to further their work.
But enough about me. I have mixed reviews of what her site claims to be "The most original and relevant dance performance of the season." While parts of the performance were truly genius (not to mention the theme behind the whole project itself), there were a few things that missed the mark.
Act II, part one. The whole Christmas scene. "All of the employees gather at Ken Lay's home for the annual holiday party." Maybe that did happen, but it's the end of January and I didn't come to see the nutcracker, and the Christmas tunes like "Ukrainian Bell Carol" didn't jive with the rest of the performance.
Act I, The Baxter Family. Danielle Grimm, playing Cliff Baxter's daughter, sure was cute and can definitely dance. But it would have been nice to see an actual little girl, not an undersized 20-something. And the fact that her mother, played by Jillian Mitchell, is the size of a toothpick made the whole family dynamic thing a bit awkward. No offense to these beautiful and talented women, but it would have been nicer to watch a family that looked something alike.
Enough negatives. Here's what I LOVED about the performance:
Metaphors of blindness, for example the Baxter's protecting each other by covering each other's eyes, whereas in parts it was used as a symbol of ignorance.
The movements that made dancers look like puppets, as though they were being controlled by some larger force. Perhaps the market?
"Smoke and mirrors" and "black box" imagery that made the whole performance work. The radio voiceover in the beginning helps us to understand the motivation for a ballet / visual performance involving an energy company.
The music. Other than the Christmas scene. Coldplay's "Violet Hill" and 311's "Love Song" were the ones we recognized. Would have been nice to have something in the program about the other songs.
"Executive Meeting - Enron Corporate Headquarters" because Andy Fastow, played by Charles Russell, brings out the "books" for the first time. And he can really move! Also, we begin to see the Enron storyline and understand the situation better, as opposed to the first scene "The Skilling-Mark Power Struggle" which was a little dry and made Rebecca Mark, played by Vanessa Woods, look like a prostitute.
"Skilling & Carter - Outside Lay's Home" because this duet was intense (Coldplay accompaniment) and I loved the setting on stage. A full moon on the screen with low lights.
"The Boardroom, The Downfall, and the End of Enron" which are the last three scenes and culmination of everything modern ballet that I would admire. Funky choreography, techno music, use of strategically located shadows on the wall for dramatic effect in one part. The techno in one scene even had me tapping my feet! Good acting, good dancing, and some great numbers overall.
Davis' ability to take a critical look at Enron through both the eyes of a business major and an artistic director is surely commendable. She's taken a risk through her company by portraying real-life situations such as this one in an entirely new and unexpected way. I thoroughly enjoyed this performance not for the overall production but for the theme and concept behind it.