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Joanna G. Harris
Music and Dance Reviews
Performance Programs
Performance Reviews
California Theatre
United States
San Francisco Bay Area
San Jose, CA

Competing Visions surface in Ballet San Jose's Bodies of Technology

by Joanna G. Harris
March 27, 2015
California Theatre
345 South First Street
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 295-9600
Joanna G. Harris
Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
Ballet San Jose, soon to be renamed 'Silicon Valley Ballet," is reaching out for extensive funding to continue its work. For their latest endeavor, "Bodies of Technology," March 27-29 at the California Theatre, they presented three works all utilizing strong tech aspects to accompany the dancing.

The world-premiere of choreographer Amy Seiwert's "This Must Be True" offered the most exiting presentation. In collaboration with video designer Frieder Weiss, Seiwert's dancers were featured against motion-triggered software. Composers Nils Frahm and Ann Muller set all this against the electronic music from "7 Fingers".

The work featured duets by Annali Rose with James Kopecky and Grace-Anne Powers with Joshua Seibel. The movement was as electric as was the visual/sound setting. There were lots of jumps, turns, acrobatic lifts and extensions. At one point words filled the screen: alas they were not decipherable.

"Eighty One" by choreographer Jessica Lang was danced to a computer based, "gesture-controlled" theremin score played live by composer Jakus Clupinski. Six women and five men employed the standard ballet vocabulary with great precision. One can wonder why new technology cannot produce new dance vocabulary. Pirouettes, tendus, chaine turns are wonderful but in this context the addition of flickering arms could not match the visual and sound stimulations.

Yuri Zhukov's "User's Manual" produced the most complex challenge. Not only did the 17 dancers have faces painted white; all the girls had red wings. Projections of these images appeared in squares above the dancers; the images changed from square to square. There were words with the sound environment offered by the Living Earth show duo. Except for a charming duet by Kendall Teague and Ommi Pipit-Suksun, "User's Manual" was not audience friendly.

The new Silicon Valley Ballet deserves to be supported and funded. With an audience from all parts of San Jose, not only 'techies,' lets hope they can prevail.
Grace-Anne Powers and Joshua Seibel in Amy Amy Seiwert's 'This Might Be True.'

Grace-Anne Powers and Joshua Seibel in Amy Amy Seiwert's "This Might Be True."

Photo © & courtesy of Alejandro Gomez

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