Tulsa Ballet’s “Creations in Studio K” incorporates pieces with innovative movements and aesthetics.
My favorite thing about Tulsa Ballet’s “Creations in Studio K” is how fresh and modern the dance feels. When I watch a classic ballet like “Sleeping Beauty,” or “Cinderella,” I enjoy the beauty of the classic story and traditional ballet. However, programs like “Creations in Studio K” allow Tulsa Ballet to premiere three new or popular pieces that bring a contemporary twist to ballet.
This year’s performance of “Creations in Studio K” had two new performances and one that was brought back by popular demand. “Prawn-watching,” choreographed by Val Caniparoli, opened the show and was the piece that returned to the stage because of its previous popularity.
Set to the music of composer Michael Nyman, this piece had seven moments from seven different compositions of the composer. The work tackles the issue of sexism through dance. The dancers are in 1950s costumes, with the girls in plaid skirts and white tops, and the boys in basic white t-shirts and charcoal gray pants.
This piece was a lot of fun to watch. It had a lot of energy and there were many beautiful ripples and a lot of different groups of dancers throughout the movements. There were some with both boys and girls, one movement with just guys and one with just girls.
The first movement opened with one female dancer on stage performing a series of energetic movements that were repeated in a ripple, which is where one dancer starts a series of movements and once she is finished the next dancer starts and so on. It was high energy, set to a fast-paced violin soundtrack and immediately set the tone for the piece.
My favorite movement was the sixth. The only light on the stage was from an illuminated screen at the back in beige. This meant the dancers were mere silhouettes on the stage as the male dancers moved the girls across the stage like mannequins.
One male dancer would move a girl to a place on the stage and set her there and then another would follow and move her somewhere else. The ladies did not move on their own in the beginning of this piece. It was a beautiful, memorable image that captured the heart of the piece.
After the first intermission, the second piece called “Fading Figures” choreographed by Garrett Smith premiered. The performance was haunting. It opened with a few dancers standing on the stage, shrouded in fog. There was only blue light highlighting the dancers. It was mysterious and eerie and quickly set the tone.
This piece grappled with reality versus perception, as well as how we interact with out past lives. The dancers were clad in black velvet and the lighting was always dark and shadowy. The lighting, designed by Les Dickert, was brilliant. He played with shadows and blue light and low light, and it enhanced the dancers’ movements on the stage.
The dancers used long movements to the melancholy sounds of violins and pianos to get across the message. Often the piece had duos of dancers who were then separated by a third. It was not a high energy piece, but mysterious where the dancers emoted the interaction between reality and imagination through dance.
The final piece in “Creations” was the world premiere of “Escaping the Weight of Darkness,” by resident Tulsa Ballet choreographer, Ma Cong. Inspired by Italian Composer Ezio Bosso, this last piece was energetic and fast-paced. Usually in ballet pieces, there are times when it feels like the action slows down. That was not the case for this performance.
From the opening notes, where three dancers frantically danced on stage, to the very end where one dancer stared at the audience, the dancers never stopped moving. I enjoyed watching them rush across the stage as if they were trying to outrun something.
The program described the piece, reading, “Cong contrasts Bosso’s dark and dramatic music with powerful movement and inspirational shapes as a message of encouragement and bravery.”
Through the dancer’s movements it was clear they were fighting something. Towards the end they were in a large group as one by one dancers tried to break away but kept getting pulled back in.
At the very end the dancers were able to dance separately and one by one left the stage until one was left standing. It was a lovely and powerful way to end not only the piece, but also the show.
The wonderful thing about “Creations in Studio K” is that the pieces are a mixture of contemporary and classic ballet and tackle modern problems through dance. I would especially recommend this ballet to people who are not particularly fond of ballet because each of the pieces move quickly and feel less like ballet then an entertaining dance performance.
There is still one more weekend of “Creations in Studio K.” They have five more performances starting Sept. 19, and ending Sept. 22. Do not miss out on the opportunity to see this wonderful show before it’s gone.