The latest show hosted by Tulsa Ballet explored the boundaries of the art form and the connection between dance and visual art.
Tulsa Ballet is in the midst of their 12th presentation of “Creations in Studio K.” This performance featured three pieces by different choreographers.
The first piece, “Parhelia” was choreographed by Jennifer Archibald. “Parhelia” is the scientific name for sundogs. After a quick Wikipedia search, I discovered that sundogs are an atmospheric optical phenomena which consists of a bright spot to the left or right of the sun. The dancers’ metallic gold costumes reflected this meaning as well as the yellow and gold lighting. Visually, it looked like a sunset on stage. The music also was incorporated into this theme of the sun, with lots of drum beats and repetition that felt like the sun was rising and setting.
The style of this number was modern ballet. It showcased the dancers’ strength with beautiful lines and impressive lifts. The dancers glided went across the stage in groups, centered around one pair of dancers. It was a visually stunning piece that felt like watching a beautiful, fluid sunset.
The second act, choreographed by Alejandro Cerrudo, was titled, ”Second to Last.” The dancers chose to perform this piece; they were allowed to vote on pieces they had performed in the previous four seasons to perform again. Because of this, the dancers seemed connected to the piece artistically.
It was a simple, solemn, elegant piece. There were only six dancers, and they were paired in specific couples. One couple was on the stage at a time. It felt like watching their relationship unfold through dance. The dancers were dressed in black, and moved across the stage with spotlights on them and the rest of the stage completely black. This lighting felt intimate and truly made the piece about the dancers’ movements. In addition, the music was acoustic piano and violin, the perfect pairing with the number.
The final act was “Pentaptych,” choreographed by resident Tulsa Ballet choreographer Ma Cong. “Pentaptych” means a work of art consisting of sections. This piece brought together multiple forms of art as it was done in collaboration with visual artist Eric Sall. It opened with a blank canvas, and a dancer came and made a few brush strokes on the canvas. Sall then came out and spent the rest of the number creating an original piece of art on the stage while the dancers danced around him. It was a beautiful collaboration of two different art forms. I enjoyed seeing the painter’s process because painting is an art not usually performed in front of people.
Besides the canvas Sall was working on, there were four other blank canvases the dancers moved around and utilized as props. The lighting created the effect of being able to see the dancer’s silhouettes on the canvases so it felt like the dancers were a work of art. The choreography was such that the dancers really felt like artwork. There were 14 dancers in the number, so there was a lot of movement. The choreography was centered around painting and making the dancers seem like moving artwork. Watching the dancers was like seeing a painting come to life. I loved the new twist on classical ballet.
There is still another weekend of performances for “Creations in Studio K,” September 20–23. In addition, in their first ever collaboration with the Philbrook Museum of Art, the dancers will perform “Pentapytch” in the Philbrook gardens for one night only on Saturday, September 29. Put it on your calendar because it is an event that should not be missed.