Unlike some of the notable work by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, there is nothing head-on about “Play and Play,” presented at UCSD’s Mandeville Auditorium on Thursday (presented by Artpower). It’s exuberant pure dance. Yet this gentler work also offers a profound message … about play as a sacred activity that teaches us how, simultaneously, to be both individuals and members of a community.
There was a thrilling “West Side Story” moment, two big groups entering from either side of the stage. Men partnered women. Women partnered women. Men partnered men. The women’s ponytails pranced! Shawn Burgess, in an acrobatic solo, radiated so much joy, I thought he was going to levitate.
Sure, it’s a marketing gimmick, but “Beer and Ballet” offered more than just the chance to quaff a brew while watching dance. The program showcased California Ballet’s international roster of stunning ballerinas.
High-energy “Propulsion” showcases Blythe Barton’s visceral combat, Lara Segura’s thorny relationships, Andrew Holmes’s deft use of space, and John Paul Lawson’s “Yippee! I get to leap!”
Beauty, the Beast, the artist, the body, the soul, and a lot of curtains: The classic “Beauty and the Beast” had to compete with a lot of other busyness from Malandain Ballet Biarritz. The result was some stunning dancing but not enough heart.
Reviewing City Ballet of San Diego’s “Nutcracker,” I wrote: “I’m eager to see [this company] make a grand jeté to the next level.” With this program, particularly exciting new works by Jerome Robbins and Peter Martins—and pianists from the New York City Ballet—they did it.