When dance is a premonition of the world’s madness

Tulsa Ballet comes to Spain for the first time at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville with works by Jooss, Balanchine and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa

A translated review in ABCdesevilla by Marta Carrasco

Tulsa Ballet performs for the first time in Spain at el Teatro de la Maestranza – ABC

It’s very exciting to see, in our own Teatro Maestranza, a ballet company that stages one of the mythical choreographies in dance history. In this case it was nonetheless than The Green Table, a 1932 work by Kurt Jooss. And it was the American company Tulsa Ballet who premiered it in Spain in the Maestranza theater in a program that also included another choreography that has made history, Who Cares? by George Balanchine. Completing the program was Shibuya Blues by the Belgian-Columbian choreographer Annabelle López Ochoa.

The Green Table is much more than a dance piece. It is about how a single man came forward and warned Europe that madness was coming, and that madness would soon invade Europe. Men saluting with an extended arm would later become reality, bringing horror, death and the Holocaust. Hitler came to power in 1933. The Green Table (1932) was a warning call that nobody wanted to hear, despite the strength of the work of Kurt Jooss.

Ten men are around a green table dressed in grotesque masks and tuxedo coats. Death appears at the back of the stage and is omnipresent in all scenes. The horrors of war appear, the broken families, the separated couples, the refugees, the survivors among the desolation of war. There are some moments that recall scenes from Les Ballets Russes, but the choreography has the exceptional modernity of a work of art, one that has turned 87 years old.

The piece is danced with the live accompaniment of two pianos, which still influences its drama. The company looked impressive in this work. Not only for its impeccable technique, but for the interpretation, fundamental in this choreography. It was really exciting.

And, while The Green Table closed the program, the two pieces that preceded it undoubtedly showed the enormous versatility of this company and above all the impeccable technique in pirouettes, batteries, fouettés, jumps, turns, port de bras …, it was a delight to see them dance.

In 1937 Gershwin asked the choreographer Balanchine to go to Hollywood to work with him. Tragically, Gershwin passed away due to a brain tumor before he could complete the ballet music for the movie. In 1970 Balanchine choreographed Who Cares? on 16 songs of Gershwin composed between 1924 and 1931. This choreography, by the way, was staged by the Compania Nacional de Dansa in 2013. There are songs that we all know, we heard them in movies and Broadway musicals. The Tulsa Ballet dancers feel comfortable in this very American music, at times it seemed as we were watching Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse on stage. Their dancing is joyous, and you can feel it. The choreography of Balanchine takes us in the streets and through the lights of New York. It’s a dynamic piece and a pleasure for the viewer.

And no less important is the choreography of the Belgian-Colombian, Annabelle López Ochoa, Shibuya Blues. The choreographer, one of the most awarded on the European dance scene, has created a piece with the fast-paced music of Banabila, Mens, Manuel Wandji and René Aubry. With the whole company on stage, the choreographer moves the entire cast in a spectacular way, in group sections, duets and trios, all danced with an enormous vitality.

The Tulsa Ballet is a Tier One North American ballet company. On this European tour they will visit Spain (only Seville), Italy and Switzerland. This is an exceptional company, one that stays away from the stereotypes of the star system and one where the entire ensemble is the star, although some soloists do stand out, and one where Italian Marcello Angelini, the artistic director since 1995, takes pride in the virtuosity of its troupe.

Great night of dance in the theater of La Maestranza, the only pity being that this was a one show only engagement given the audience response and the full house. When the program is this good, this is what happens.