Tulsa Ballet dancer Maine Kawashima rises from the ensemble in this scene from Nicolo Fonte’s “Divenire,” part of Tulsa Ballet’s “Creations in Studio K.”
Tulsa Ballet dancers Jaimi Cullen and Arman Zazyan perform a scene from Craig Davidson’s “All Things Considered,” part of Tulsa Ballet’s “Creations in Studio K.”
Tulsa Ballet’s “Creations in Studio K” has traveled down some dark paths in years past, with works that have drawn inspiration from some of humanity’s baser instincts.
The company’s newest iteration of this program, which opened Friday at its Studio K theater, is a sunny stroll in comparison.
The three works that make up the program have their serious sides, to be sure, but the overall feeling one takes away from this performance is one of hopefulness.
That was especially true of the closing work on the program, Nicolo Fonte’s “Divenire.” Set primarily to Ludovico Einaudi’s minimalist yet melodic music, the ballet’s various sections either begin or end with a figure raised up above the ensemble that, combined with the way Les Dickert’s lighting designed played across the dancers’ costumes by Anaya Cullen, gave these tableaux the look of a Caravaggio painting — angels descending or spirits rising up.
It was all a piece with the work’s theme of “becoming.” (The ballet’s title is Italian for “to become.”) Throughout the performance are subtle shifts in the look of the ballet — for example, in the second sequence, the women change to pointe shoes — as well as an ever-increasing sense of urgency in the movement itself, as if everyone is striving toward some unknown, but necessary, revelation.
Urgency and transformation are also at the heart of the other piece making its world premiere with this production. Craig Davidson’s “All Things Considered” is also rooted in ideas about change — how seemingly minor choices in our lives can have profound effects — and Davidson’s choreography is wonderfully energetic and muscular, with the dancers at time moving so fast around the stage they came close to appearing as blurs.
The pas de deux danced by Jaimi Cullen and Arman Zazyan serves as a pivot point in the work; the pace is slower, the interplay between the dancers freighted with a great deal of emotion, as if this were a couple’s final goodbye before going their separate ways.
But it isn’t long before the lighting grows brighter, the costumes more colorful, and the dancing by the company more exuberant, as if to put away any regrets about the past, and move forward.
Sandwiched between these two works was an encore performance of “Melodia,” an early work by the company’s former resident choreographer Ma Cong. Set to songs by vocalist Lhasa de Sela that reek of heartbreak and despair, the choreography plays against the music, with moments of pure silliness set against dramatic passages that are just over the top enough to subvert any heaviness.
This piece was performed by member of TBII, Tulsa Ballet’s second company, which proved itself to be equal in quality and artistry with the main company.
“Creations in Studio K” continues with performances 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday, Sept. 22-23; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at Tulsa Ballet’s Studio K, 1212 E. 45th Place. Tickets are $25-$65. 918-749-6006, tulsaballet.org.
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