Last Saturday night I was lucky enough to see the last installment of Crystal Pite term as resident choreographer at les Ballets Jazz, (BJM). The day before I had handed in yet another grant proposal and was fighting not to slip into the negativity that comes from knowing one’s slim chances for success. So it was an odd but pleasant surprise to be invigorated by Xspectacle. I admire Crystal Pites focused creativity and light touch. It is amazing how gifted creators can illuminate the limitless possibilities for the rest of us. It was so satisfying to be swept up by the range of her movement invention and by the caliber of the dancers performing the work.
The first section show cased 24 short studies giving us quick tastes of divergent worlds. The length was similar to that of a commercial so it grabbed interest and got at the essential of various ideas. (Something I need to practice!) In the second section time was stretched out and the tone was more casual. It culminated in a beautiful duet that sprung out of a conversation. Playing on the tone of a rehearsal it managed to convincingly capture the casual and effortless quality of dancing in the studio.
My impression is that she has the confidence not to worry about proving herself as a ‘serious’ choreographer. There is that cliché that comedy is the hardest thing to do. It certainly takes guts to put someone in a bear costume and use rubber chickens in a piece that culminates a three year residency. She made a statement about commercialism in dance in a refreshing way. I appreciated the break from the heavy handed delivery I have grown accustomed to in the world of contemporary dance and the overly dramatic delivery of some ballet. Toying with the expectations placed on a company like BJM, she created an ironic finale that any one involved in dance would recognize. The classic bad ass, black clad MTV squad, mixed with over the top cheese of dsyfunctional cabaret. The result was in your face and hilarious. The basic premise explored dance as art vs. entertainment, and I would say the result was a show that was both.
Her choreography is clearly the work of a dancer with a clear vision of what we do from the inside and out. Watching did not make me a better choreographer but did give me the urge to keep trying.