Seattle's Spectrum Dance Theater delves deep into eros and angst in Donald Byrd's "Peering into the Ballroom: 3 Dances."
Advances and rebuffs, avoidance and embrace, manipulation and escape…
Troubled eros takes all sorts of push-me-pull-me forms in choreographer Donald Byrd’s “Peering into the Ballroom: 3 Dances,” as Byrd weighs the psychodynamics of desire, rejection and occasional rare meetings of the flesh and the heart.
The show confirms Spectrum Dance Theater as the toughest, sexiest, wiliest dance troupe in town.
“Peering into the Ballroom” draws on works from different phases in Byrd’s career, all originally set on dance companies other than Spectrum. Here, in their first Spectrum performances, “Le Bal Noir” (2006), “La Valse” (1993) and “Longing” (2005) have been literally framed — an ornate proscenium stands between dancers and audience — so as to highlight their affinities and let them resonate with one another.
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They emerge as a single symphonic work.
In “Le Bal Noir,” Kylie Lewallen’s neurotic, swoon-prone female is kept in one piece, barely, by a sometimes concerned, sometimes controlling Joel Myers — even as she brings other men into the picture.
In “La Valse,” eight dancers move in open-armed solitude with ghost partners, until they discover each other. After some quick mutual assessments of teeth, abs and other carnal assets, they courteously bow to one another — and the couplings begin.
In “Longing,” the nimble leaps and ballet flurries of seven dancers are punctuated — “punctured” is more like it — by fierce foot-stomps and hand-slaps. Dancers pair up. But because of their odd number, someone is always left on the sidelines.
Byrd, in comments after the show, said he was aiming to take classic European romanticism and leave it “inverted … shattered … reconstituted.”
The dancer who tapped most feverishly into his vision is newly anointed Spectrum principal dancer Lewallen. Her blade-sharp moves, exquisite control and equally impressive abandon make her a marvel to watch.
And, human dynamo that she is, she’s on every piece in the program.
Michael Upchurch: firstname.lastname@example.org