“Mayhem” Delights with Mixed-Rep Program

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Atlanta Ballet in "Cacti." Photograph by Kim Kenney, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Atlanta Ballet in “Cacti.” Photograph by Kim Kenney, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

And last, there’s “Cacti.” Alexander Ekman’s enthralling ballet is complex, brilliant, humorous, and completely irreverent. Live and recorded music is interwoven into a sound tapestry punctuated by the dancers’ breath and percussion made by the dancers slapping, tapping, and sliding on platforms and their own bodies. Ekman himself says that this ballet is his response to critics who didn’t like his work. This is my first experience with his choreography, but I can’t imagine not liking something he choreographed, if “Cacti” is representative. It is experimental in new ways, and immensely inventive. The duet between Nadia Mara and Heath Gill is riveting; we have come to expect pyrotechnics laced with humor from him, but this is a new aspect to her personality; I would like to see it further explored. Have you bought into the idea that a cello can’t be part of a marching band? This ballet will disabuse you of that idea, as the musicians in the string quartet move among the dancers. (And don’t forget, that means the musicians have to memorize the whole score and remember where to go and how to move! Kudos to the quartet.)  Never thought you would fall in love with a ballet that included dancers in swim caps dusted with baby powder? You will. You’re not a fan of comedic ballets? Your mind will be changed by this one. You didn’t think desert plants were great inspiration for dance? You were clearly wrong! Ekman has found inspiration everywhere: from the yoga practices of Tibetan monks, to potted succulents, to the lighting and set pieces. It took a while for the audience to warm up, but soon they were laughing and cheering. The movement seems simple, but there are a lot of bodies, and the total result is ultimately complex. The dancers are having a marvelous time, and their enthusiasm is contagious. It’s another ballet that is alone worth the price of admission. This evening of dance is a bargain!

For more information and to secure your tickets, visit the Atlanta Ballet website. As an added benefit, while you’re there, look at Wabi Sabi’s summer schedule and next year’s season.

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