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Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre - Strong Opening for 27th Season

The Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre Company shares their artistry with Uphams Corner every year during the holidays, offering several performances of the Nutcracker ballet at the Strand Theatre.  To provide our local resdents and readers with a taste of the quality dance they provide, we attended the 27th season opening program at The Sanctuary Theatre in Harvard Square. 

The experience was thrilling and engaging both at the intellectual and sensual levels.  It was also exciting to be part of a crowd of people who expressed so warmly their enjoyment of the performances.

"Mysterious Arrangements" is the opening program of the Jose Mateo Ballet Company’s 27th season, running through October 28, 2012 at the Sanctuary Theatre in Harvard Square.  Fashioned as a terraced and intimate club, the Sanctuary Theatre’s seating arrangement consists of small round tables, separated just enough to create privacy yet maintain a sense of community.  Live classical piano music sets the tone both before the opening act and during the intermissions.  Proximity to the dancers is a privilege for the audience, providing an opportunity to participate vicariously in the partnerships among the dancers and to experience the powerful emotion of the music and dance.

Consisting of three works, "Mysterious Arrangements" drew generous accolades from the audience on October 12:  "Glorious, fabulous, touching, moving, perfectly balanced dancing, choreography in synch with the music." They praised all of the dancers, especially Jacob Hoover and Madeleine Bonn.

Time Beyond Time

Time Beyond Time

The opening work, "Time Beyond Time (2005)," is based on Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time," considered his most significant composition.  Written in a German prison camp, the quartet was first performed there as well on January 15, 1941.  Based on the musicians he could find in the prison camp, Messiaen wrote his quartet for cello, violin, clarinet and piano.  A prison barrack, converted into a theater, provided seating for its first audience.  As a devout Catholic, Messiaen drew upon a passage from the book of Revelation in titling his quartet:  "There will be no more time."

"Quartet for the End of Time" (30 minutes) challenges the dancers and the viewers to experience the music and the dance both in synchrony and in juxtaposition.  The abstract nature of the music provides a perfect opportunity for the ballet to explore the "expressive power of abstract form" while the "physical and psychological dynamics unfold among the players."  As one enthusiastic member of the audience remarked, "The conflict between the dancers and the music was so clear, moving me emotionally – pulling me in and out."  As if time has stopped, the slowest passages demand a controlled and perfectly balanced display of incomparable athletic skill.

What concepts were being explored through the dance?  Love, reflection, strength in harmony, shifting energies, separation, mystery?  Through their movements and flow, the dancers become your thoughts and your heartbeat, your vision of perfection.

Dancer's Overture

The second work, "The Dancer’s Overture (2000)," was undoubtedly everyone’s favorite.  Johann Sebastian Bach’s "Orchestral Suite #1" is short (9 minutes) and calls for a festive choreography.   As if an orchestra on-stage were magically transformed into a ballet company, the music is emboldened by the dancers’ movements and smiling faces into a high festival, one filled with love of life.  The dancers so beautifully carry the rhythm and the intensity, the joy and brightness of the music.  At its conclusion and with the highest appreciation, the audience shouted exuberantly.

Taking Turns

"Taking Turns" (30 minutes) is a premiere for the Jose Mateo Company and a fitting conclusion to the evening.  It is based on "String Quartet #4 (Buczak)" by the American composer Philip Glass who is said to be one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century.  While his music is often described as "minimalist," Mr. Glass recently described himself as a composer of "music with repetitive structures."  Buczak (String Quartet No.4), was written as a memorial piece for the artist Brian Buczak and first performed in 1989.
"Taking Turns" opens with a group of men carrying a fallen comrade offstage, a scene that ends in what seems like seconds while the dance continues as if this memory has vanished.  String Quartet #4 is relaxing and engaging, conducive to reflective thought.  The dance follows the energy of the music: ebbing and flowing as the context moves between aloneness and group gatherings. The choreography is a painting of life - thoughtfully abstract, gentle and compelling, engaging the viewers to listen and watch.  The dancers are exceptional in their representation of the elements forming relationships - exploring, flirting, touching and making love.  The ending, a surprise, is what, for some of us, "goosebumps" are made of.  To the extent that an underlying narrative gives form to the choreography, its existence remains hidden behind the abstract.  Not so for the sorrow encapsulating the piece and that we are permitted to know - at least symbolically.

Some in the audience called "Taking Turns" their favorite work of the evening.  Not only was the "dancing exceptional" but the choreography was "so completely in synch with the music."  That the male dancers were also showcased made this work especially breathtaking.

A Program Worth Seeing

According to the group’s Artistic Director, Jose Mateo, the 27th year opening program represents three phases of the company’s history and unique repertory.  Offering two standards and a new premiere, the Jose Mateo Ballet Company gives testimony to their continuing creative aptitude and appetite and demonstrates the depth and breadth of their most recent decade of contributions to dance performance in the Boston area. 

To order tickets:  Tickets

Jose Mateo Ballet website:  www.BalletTheatre.org
Posted: October 8, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

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