Energy — If I could use only one word to describe tonight’s performance, I would say Jeffrey introduced an “energy” to all his pieces. Not energetic, though one certainly needs to be bold and powerful to execute Jeffrey’s choreographies. Energy as in the “vital force” that every living is said to possess in the martial arts. Or, energy as in the invisible force that Neo is able to channel at the end of The Matrix.
In Jeffrey’s works, dancers interact with one another as if they could pass along their emotions, their psyches, and their invisible energies onto each other. Partnering is no longer a physical push-and-pull but an exchange of psychological states.
His pieces felt as much (abstract) dance theatre as they were contemporary ballet. Starting in “Fremd” and through “Minim” in Act I, the intensity of the exchanges rose, and the emotional states on stage darkened. Lia Cirio‘s facial expressions, enraged and almost villainous, were unforgettable. Jeffrey Cirio himself joined the dancers in “Minim.” Though the dancing has been great up to this point, Jeffrey took his own choreographies to a whole different level. He was more powerful, faster, and stronger. Whitney Jensen who partnered him was perhaps the only one who matched him in speed and energy.
Theatricality aside, my favorite part was seeing this whole new side of Jeffrey, completely different from his classical ballet roles with ABT, and seeing just how much he loved it.
Whitney opened Act II with “In the Mind: The Other Room” and the most sinister scene yet. Performing a solo on a chair, she evoked simultaneously the images of a prisoner in a psychological ward and a lone heroine in a futuristic sci-fi movie fighting for her survival. She was later joined by Lia as the antagonist, and two other dancers who intervened and accentuated the vicious encounters.
Emotional states turned much warmer and brotherly-like in “Tactility” choreographed by Gregory Dolbashian, and performed by Jeffrey and Blaine Hoven.
Finally, to close the show and featuring live violinists on stage, “Efil Ym Fo Flah (Half of My Life)” showcased yet another creative side of Jeffrey. I love the movements as much as the interactions between the dancers and the musicians.
Many of the works tonight included spoken words in other foreign languages (written words, in the case of his video). I was told by a native speaker that his movements did not match the meaning of the words, which was confusing if not jarring.
Overall, Jeffrey showed both his signature and his versatility as a choreographer tonight. Even though I generally enjoy the more graceful presentation of ballet (such as Emery from last week), I was taken through an emotional journey by his works, and look forward to seeing more!