Artistic Director: Emily Molnar

Jacob’s Pillow/Ted Shawn Theatre until July 21

Reviewed by Joel Greenberg


Feeling that I am near the end of my superlative dictionary, where Jacob’s Pillow is concerned, let me tread carefully as I trumpet the most recent company to make its debut: the remarkable Ballet BC presented a programme of three pieces that have set a new dance standard (for me, at least) for theatricality and unqualified go-for-the-gold exuberance, imagination and ensemble-with-personalities-that-radiate. The afternoon performance I attended brought the capacity audience to its feet, not in itself a unique response from the devotees who make the pilgrimage to Becket an annual (many even weekly) event. But this time, the gorgeous weather outside was paralleled by the warmth and humanity onstage, so much so that folks were back in the theatre long before the ushers were strumming their xylophones to signal that another act was about to begin.


The dancers in this young company enliven their work with such joy and eagerness to connect with the audience that it’s possible to allow their dazzle to obscure their technique. An ensemble that can execute anything that is thrown at it is what makes companies at the Pillow so remarkable and so anticipated. Ballet BC possesses a depth of skill that this week’s performances can only hint at. “A.U.R.A.”, “Aniel” and “Petite Ceremonie” all demand propulsive, almost relentless precision and drive. The staccato movements override fluidity and, impressive as their stamina is, downplay the dancers’ amplitude and emotional expression. And while I missed having that experience with the company, I offer it as reason enough to anticipate seeing them in the near future – as near as it’s possible to experience other work in their repertoire.


I can’t recall a company that places as high a priority as Ballet BC does on its overall design: Jacopo Godani, who choreographed, costumed and lit “A.U.R.A.”, makes startling use of fluorescent lighting; Emily Molnar, choreographer of “Aniel” (and the company’s Artistic Director) demonstrates a marvellous sense of humour, aided in large measure by her dancers, all of whom emerge as separate personalities without minimizing the fullest esprit of the whole – and in this, Molnar is complemented by the costume design of Linda Chow; “Petite Ceremonie”, choreographed by Medhi Walerski, is at its peak with the juggling-dancing monologue by Dario Dinuzzi.


Adding Ballet BC to its list of visiting companies reinforces the legitimacy of the word ‘vision’ as it applies to Jacob’s Pillow. And every vision is driven by a visionary: Ella Baff, Executive and Artistic Director, is that visionary under whose watch the festival moves boldly with every step, leap and pirouette, guiding us forward.


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