March 19th, during the final dress rehearsal at the Cobb Energy Center, the lights rose on the stunning set by David Finn and Emma Kingsbury, exposing multiple levels and layers of textures, with a nearly-vertical staircase bisecting the stage and receding upward. Scalable pipes, wrought-iron balconies, stone steps, arching doorways, beaded curtains, and a silent fountain provided a feast for the eyes. But the choreography overpowered even the gigantic set. It is impossible to watch everything at once as the characters simultaneously play out their dramas. They dance on the stage and in the audience. Even the set moves, catching the light and the eye.
The ballet is multifaceted. There are momentary flashes of historical dance forms, but they are swiftly replaced by Pickett’s own creations. She has sculpted each character out of movement, and each is individual within the group. There is no understatement in this ballet, and no action is wasted. The characters shout out to the audience, sometimes in dance, and sometimes in spoken words layered atop everything else. The technique is exquisite and the gesture is expressive, but these elements fade into background; the characters are in-your-face and the story dominates everything.