By Skye Stouber
Company Artist, Oregon Ballet Theatre
Jardí Tancat’s Catalan folk music offers an element of peculiarity, like the unexpected flavor of a fruit that is not readily available in the West. It’s a treat! The whole Director’s Choice program is composed of artists taking their license to a completely new level in a quest to marry concepts that are disparate, but in retrospect seem destined to be together. Whereas the dancers floated across the dance floor for the first half — across an Italian countryside and fairytale dreamscapes — [in the second half] they now seem to be possessed to become one with the floor. Driving their weight into the ground begins phrases with a more robust impetus than a classical one and gives off a distinctly different quality. Ballet training creates dancers that are razor sharp but then layers that virtuosic strength and precision with blankets upon blankets of grace. The choreographer Nacho Duato asks ballet dancers to shrug off that practiced sheen and connect back to the raw movement quality that facilitates it in the first place. Only left with the inextricable elements of their training, Duato paints the dancers with folk dance steps that audiences struggle to attribute to any recognizable source. The effect is a composition that is entirely relatable and entirely novel at the same time. Jardí Tancat is immediately gratifying in a way that still sticks with you long after the performance is over. If you were not sure what a classical ballerina was capable of before you saw this performance, you certainly will know by the end. You get to have your cake, and eat it, too.
Jardí Tancat’s is one of five ballets performed as part of Director’s Choice, running April 11-14, 2019 at the Newmark Theatre.