Salt Lake City's esteemed company Ballet West, from the hit show Breaking Pointe, made a brief appearance in Chicago last weekend with the story ballet Sleeping Beauty as well as a mixed rep performance Sunday.
Sunday's performance proved to be full of surprises. The George Balanchine pieces, Rubies and the Pas de Deux from Diamonds, sparkled as principal Christiana Bennett was a vision in white. Choreographer Nicolo Fonte's world premiere of Presto was an intense, futuristic piece with four dancers, including standout Jacqueline Straughan (who quickly recovered from an onstage fall).
But the KNOCKOUT piece was The Lottery, based on the chilling short story by Shirley Jackson. The famous short story depicts a small town that performs an ancient ritual in which one person is chosen to be stoned to death at random, presumably to condemn the pointless violence in the modern world.
Prior to the show I wondered how this would play out in ballet format. A brutal stoning ritual isn't something you see from a dance company everyday. I think the key for Ballet West's interpretation of the story was the exceptional choreography (Val Caniparoli) and the theatrics. The dancers perfectly depicted the sort of nervous-excited-terrified emotion that the townspeople felt on the day of the lottery. It was fascinating and horrifying to watch, but most importantly superbly danced--it was a joy to watch, despite the creeped out chills I had by the end.
I have one more Ballet West surprise up my sleeve this week--check back for my Q&A with soloist Allison DeBona!
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