An exemplary program of Tulsa Ballet

 A translated review in Diario de Sevilla  by ROSALÍA GÓMEZ

A image from the choreography “Shibuya Blues” presented last night at the Maestranza. / FRANCISCO ESTEVEZ-RESIZED

Founded in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1956 by partners Roman Jasinski, Polish, and Moscelyn Larkin, North American, Tulsa Ballet became a professional ballet company in 1978. With the arrival of Italian Marcello Angelini in 1995 as artistic director, the company grew to earn a spot among the tier one international ballet companies. 

 The company that performed last night at the Maestranza, unfortunately for just one night, is a company made up of 30 dancers from 14 countries, dancers who are absolutely extraordinary for their technique and versatility. Their soaring interpretative level was one of the pleasant surprises of the night, in a performance that saw the company present three pieces performed in reverse order from their creation. 

 The first, and the most current one, Shibuya Blues, is the work of the Belgian-Colombian choreographer Annabelle López Ochoa. It was a beautiful piece of choreography that allowed us to see how the language and variations of classical dance can be reworked to produce a one-hundred percent contemporary look. Very beautiful aesthetically, the piece offered to all its interpreters the possibility of showing their technical skills – their turns, their jumps, their fouettés- with a fresh and almost casual energy that captivated the audience.

 The rest of the program was a lesson in the history of dance and a real joy to watch. The second choreography was Who Cares? by George Balanchine. A late work (1970) that has little to do with the pieces that made him famous in Europe, such as the mythical Apollon Musagete of 1928, and much with that bustling life he found in the U.S. where he did, among other things, several musicals and founded the New York City Ballet. Who Cares? is a showcase of steps and sequences of classical ballet (with the girls on pointe, as in the first piece), that the so-called creator of neoclassical dance strips of its aura (and any possible history) to deliver, through them, the sensuality of the Gershwin songs. A group of cheerful duos and solos moved us beyond Broadway and the world of music.

 But the best part of the evening was the opportunity to see on stage, with two fantastic pianos playing Fritz A. Cohen’s music, The Green Table. It is an emblematic and award-winning 1932 piece choreographed by the German Kurt Jooss (1901-1979), which has been performed by companies around the world – the Joffrey Ballet had it eleven years in a row in their repertoire – but never, let’s remember, had performed in this city.

 The choreography, extraordinary indeed if one thinks that it predates the appearance of modern dance by half a century, was born as a plea against the horrors of war, which explodes, in spite or perhaps due to the cynicism of the politicians who argue around a table, unable to avoid it.

 An example of German dance expressionism, the work begins and ends with the politicians in two scenes, almost grotesque in their gestures and characterization, with eight scenes between those two, which depict military movement of soldiers, the tenderness of mothers, the party in a fantastic public dance, while execution and death are omnipresent elements, as in medieval dances. It is difficult to know what is left of the original movements, but Tulsa Ballet’s work was truly exceptional.