Today, because of her experience in such an extensive repertory, Berman is in demand as a regisseur, assisting choreographers in bringing their existing ballets to new audiences. This past month, she has been working with Walnut Creek’s Diablo Ballet, setting Christopher Wheeldon’s Mercurial Manoeuvres, which is part of the Inside the Dancer’s Studio program to be presented Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3.
The world premiere of Mark Morris’s Beaux, set to Martinu’s Concerto for Harpsichord (1935), is a gentle work created for the company men. In contrast to the usual bravura leaps and beats normally used to showcase talented male dancers, Beaux explores different territory. In a Peter-Pan-and-the-Lost-Boys manner, Morris has the men create a visual picture of the hidden, light-hearted youth inside, and the sunny, patterned costumes and backdrop by designer Isaac Mizrahi underpin Morris’s intent. The dancers were equally matched, equally wonderful.
The ability to enjoy DGV seems to me largely dependent on how irritating one finds Michael Nyman’s driving minimalist score. The piece (MGV: Musique à Grande Vitesse) was composed at the request of a European railroad company; and if Nyman’s music may at first express the ratcheting excitement of being propelled forward at high-speeds, it soon comes to convey instead the tedium of a long train ride.
Chic, black Sandra Woodall costumes and the predominately white lighting plan by David Finn serve to pare the work down to its visual essentials, allowing Tomasson’s choreographic design to stand on its own merits. From the unusual slow opening section featuring Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helimets (one of this season’s more felicitous pairings) to the brisk male solo danced by Joan Boada, all the action is in service to the music. Especially effective is the 3rd Movement trio danced by Dores Andre, Elizabeth Miner, and Joan Boada. Fluid and flirtatious, it is a real charmer.