May 20, 2013

Project DC: The Washington Ballet

I am a big supporter of the arts and try to go to various performances whenever I can, but the truth is that with my student budget and hectic schedule, it's not always possible to go as much as I'd like. A few months ago I was browsing the Kennedy Center website, wanting to reconnect with the lovely performances they host, when suddenly the Washington Ballet's season caught my eye. I saw that they were doing an interpretation of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, and I was intrigued. Hemingway in ballet form? It deserved to be investigated.

I'm not a ballet expert, but I do know what I like. I used to dance as a kid, and my sister and I often went to performances by NYC Ballet and American Ballet Theatre when I lived in New York. I love those two companies, and since I hadn't yet seen the Washington Ballet perform, I figured I needed to give them a chance. Bonus: We unknowingly picked the night that the King and Queen of Sweden were in attendance! We are so fancy. :D

I just love the view from the Kennedy Center balcony!

First of all, the design of the show is very cool. They used digital projection to display the words that Jake, the protagonist, is typing on his typewriter and to portray conversations between characters, giving the sense of watching a silent movie. The black-and-white set and costumes in the first act also contribute to that feeling. There were so many beautiful moments in the first act, but I especially loved the whimsy of the characters barhopping through Paris and the enjoyable pas de deux between Jake and Georgette. Jake's nightmare of being back in World War I and the desperation of his bathing scene at the close of Act I were especially gripping and emotional, and Jared Nelson did a wonderful job of depicting Jake's struggle and isolation. 

Act II comes alive with a burst of color as the characters make their way to Spain. The bullfighting takes center stage, and Tamas Krizsa brought the bull to life remarkably well. Edwin Aparicio stole the stage with his tremendously talented flamenco dancing. Seriously, it made me want to jump to my feet and dance! The fight scene was also fun, and the dancers kept their energy high.  

The minuses were that there were a few moments where I didn't think the dancers and the orchestra matched up very well at the end of certain pieces, and it momentarily took me away from what could have been a strong ending. It was by no means a sloppy performance, but details like that are important to me. I also could have done without the can-can dance because it seemed a bit out of place.

Overall, the hubs and I both really enjoyed the performance, and we highly recommend it. I'm especially impressed that the hubs had such a great time because he is definitely not a ballet aficionado, yet he was smiling throughout most of the show, and he thanked me more than once afterwards for bringing him. Success! I'm interested to see how the Washington Ballet does with more classical pieces, and I will definitely return to the Kennedy Center to check them out again.

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Want to read more about having fun in DC? Follow along as I embark on Project DC:

2. Go for a leisurely hike in Rock Creek Park.
3. Go on a White House tour.
5. Visit Old Town on a day trip.
6. Take a day trip to Annapolis.
7. Go to the Newseum.
8. Go back to Jazz in the Garden when it starts up again in the spring.
9. Go to the Holocaust Museum.
11. See the FDR Memorial.
13. Go to the National Portrait Gallery.
14. Go to the Corcoran.
15. Visit the Vietnam Memorial.
17. Go to more embassy events.
19. See the drum circle at Malcolm X Park.
20. Mini golf at H Street Country Club.
21. Evening drinks at POV.
22. Visit the National Archives.
23. See a Washington Ballet performance.
24. Walk through the National Arboretum.