Costumes, staging and age-old “tricks of the eye” are just as important as the technique, synchronicity and grace of the dancers. Under Sklute’s direction, you don’t have to be a ballet lover to appreciate a Ballet West performance. There’s enough eye candy on stage to appease just about anyone.
Gong and Madame Butterfly (running through Feb. 21) both feature brilliant sections where the dancer’s shadows are projected onto screens. This simple technique—which could not properly be reproduced in a photograph or movie—adds an awe-inspiring otherworldliness and vitality to both pieces. Gong is a colorful modern romp which features a volcanic contemporary score, whereas Butterfly is a tragic love story set to Puccini’s haunting music. Both Asian-steeped pieces feature breathtaking visuals that will stay with you the day after you attend the ballet, the week after you attend the ballet, even the month after you attend the ballet.
The brightly colored costumes and frantic energy of Gong (which is first on the bill) will remind you that spring is only few weeks away. I can still see a vibrant ballerina in a purple tutu joyfully criss-crossing the stage. However, the elegant geishas rising from a thick mist during Madame Butterfly is the visual that is most embedded in my mind. It was as if the dancers were materializing on stage out of thin air. It was the perfect visual for the grey, cloudy month of February. (Jenny Poplar)