Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal wows Weis with complex dances

Lauren Boone, Managing Editor

World-renowned repertory company Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal (BJM) performed at the Weis Center for Performing Arts on Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Established in 1972 by Geneviève Salbaing, Eva Von Gencsy, and Eddy Toussaint, the company strives to remain true to traditional aesthetic styles while exploring contemporary dance and ballet. Under the artistic direction of Louis Robitaille since 1998, dancers are encouraged to bring their own unique stamp to the company pieces, emulating the company’s values of openness and community. Robitaille and his dancers also seek to create positive energy among the audience through dance. For this reason, critics have deemed BJM a “feel-good company.”

BJM performed three dance pieces: “Zero In On,” “Night Box,” and “Harry.” In “Zero In On,” the stage reduced in size so that the audience literally “zeroed in on” the two dancers.

“As a professional dancer and current instructor, the first piece really stood out to me. The choreography displayed such talented partner works and extension, which is not easy stuff! It had a lot to appreciate,” Associate Professor of Dance and Co-Director of Bucknell Dance Company Er-Dong Hu said.

“Night Box” depicted the atmosphere of a city at night. Set against a dark background, the choreographer used light to frame the city’s clubs, streets, and hidden spaces. The piece alternated dance sequences for a group, trio, duet, and solo. The combination of contemporary ballet with street dance evoked the interwoven emotions of love, loss, and joy that occur in this urban life.

“I really enjoyed the second piece because it was fun, simple, and yet, the story was very complex. There were so many layers to the piece, which kept the audience thinking and allowed for the dancers to display their talents,” Bucknell Dance Company member Alyssa Henningsen ’14 said.

Inspired by everyone’s internal battles, “Harry” follows the namesake character’s battle. Through alternating dance sequences of trios and duets, the piece displayed Harry’s problems with his significant other and his ability to overcome them with compromise. The piece featured a diverse score that combined the musical styles of jazz, Israeli folk songs, and traditional. All of the aspects combined, the choreographer created a piece that was both hopeful and humorous.

“I enjoyed the aspects of lighting and design that made the pieces unique. For example, the first piece used a set of exposed lights that gave it an industrial feel. This was is direct contrast with the dancers that were performing fluid and languid movements. The combination made for a wonderful piece. The dancers themselves were phenomenal,” Kelsey Fletcher ’14 said.

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