9.28.2010

Ballet Austin / Carmina Burana : 4 of 5

Although I used to go to the ballet often, for some reason I hadn't seen one in a quite a long time, but after reading about the huge orchestra and choir involved in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, I made a last minute decision to attend Ballet Austin's season opener! The program began with a short ballet called Kai featuring the music of John Cage, known for his modern prepared piano works. The music was strange but extremely rhythmic, which was mirrored in the intricate dance that featured modern moves like slides, backward leaps, and interesting duplications (where a motion would be "echoed" across several dancers). After the intermission, Carmina Burana began with the well-known O Fortuna, which sounded phenomenal as performed by the Conspirare choir and full Austin Symphony! I wasn't expecting any kind of sets or costumes for this ballet, but the stage included some interesting elements with an iron bar motif that well-represented the suppression/release of the monks' fantasy life, since Carmina Burana is based on a series of secret poems written by medieval monks dreaming about forbidden pleasures. The start of the ballet was definitely an introduction to this concept, as male dancers wearing thin "frocks" (with hoods and kind of skirts to represent robes) removed them and threw them to the ground, causing some interesting audience response! The rest of the hour-long piece was filled with many playful, Spring-like dances, as well as some beautifully sung solos (some without dance), which interjected quite a bit of light-hearted flirting and comedy that was a complete reversal of the opening. Of course, the ballet ended with a kind of "return to reality" as the monks resumed their stoic life. I was really impressed and amazed at the dancers and their complex movements, and grateful to experience new music accompanied by such wonderful visuals. I definitely plan on seeing more of Ballet Austin this season!

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