Three lessons in eclecticism from Tulsa Ballet

The American company performed Sunday for the south stage of LAC

A review in Corriere Del Ticino by Antonio Mariotti

“The Green Table” of Kurt Jooss interpreted by Tulsa

LUGANO – An “American perspective” of extreme interest the one offered by Lugano Scena over six appointments (two engagements dedicated to theater and four to dance), one that reached its final performance Sunday night at LAC with Eclectic Stories presented by Tulsa Ballet directed by Marcello Angelini. The three works are surely eclectic, as the title of the program suggests, and showcased the versatility of all the artists involved, and the sometimes educational essence of this institution born more than 60 years’ ago in Oklahoma.

A successfully eclectic spirit that was already evident in the first work of the program, Shibuya Blues, a very recent dance by choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa on diverse musical scores, among them a famous tune from one of the most celebrated composers of this genre:  Rene’ Aubry.  After this high class “aperitif”, the show entered its core, offering to the Lugano’s large and attentive audience two works of total contrast.  First we witnessed the light and carefree Who Cares? a piece created by George Balanchine in 1970 on music by George Gershwin. A series of short dances (mostly pas de deux and solos) from which transpires the typical American attitude of looking at life in a positive way, lulled by catching melodies that seem out of a Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers’ movie.  

This work is diametrically opposite from the one that followed, The Green Table by Kurt Jooss (1932), with music by Fritz Cohen played live on pianos by Andew Lahti and Joseph McNamara.  This last work occupies a very important place in the twentieth century’s dance history, one hand foreshadowing the advent of Nazis and the inevitability of the war that ensued, while on the other pointing its finger in an accusatory way to political intrigues.  Those are the political intrigues that prefer to play with human destiny around a green table, one just like the ones of the Roulette table, instead of looking for solutions that can satisfy the needs of the majority.   A discourse with strong political tones, one that has its roots in the aesthetic styles of German expressionism and in the Brecht’s theater form, brining to life well defined characters, with caricatural tones (like the one personified by the character of Death) that become the protagonists of a true narrative, making The Green Table an extremely actual prototipe of the dance-theater that will bloom after the first half of the twentieth century.

Tulsa Ballet has proved to be a high-level ballet company, capable of developing an amazing philological work on several fronts. An approach that the LAC public has truly enjoyed .