Washington Ballet

We leave a little before 5:30. Seventeenth to Potomac to Eye to the Southeast-Southwest Freeway to Maine Ave – around the Tidal Basin – onto Independence, turns into Ohio Dr – around the Lincoln Memorial – becomes Rock Creek Parkway, up to the Mass Ave exit, on Mass – past the British Embassy, the Vatican Embassy (the guy holding up the Catholic Priests Molest Boys sign there as per usual), and the Naval Observatory – up to the Cathedral, right on Wisconsin, park on the east side between Macomb and Newark.

We walk up half a block to cross at the light at Newark, and walking down Wisconsin towards us, to cross same time as we are, is Washington Ballet dancer Brianne Bland. I ask her if she’s grabbing something to eat before the show. Between shows, she tells me. They’ve already had a matinée today. I tell her we’re big fans. Dawn relates how she’s had a subscription going back to the Mary Day era. The year Brianne Bland arrived, matter of fact.

Brianne heads into the Giant while we mosey further down to the other end of the block to Cactus Cantina. Despite being so early in the evening, it’s totally jam packed. Or maybe it’s packed because it’s so early. Lots and lots of kids. Little kids. Then there’s a party of sixteen checking in ahead of us. They’re told to wait. We get seated right away, nimble party of two that we are.

The place thins out a bit as the families with little ones finish up and leave. Still pretty crowded though. Dawn nurses her one frozen margarita throughout dinner; I polish off two on the rocks. We make our way out and up Wisconsin to Porter to the Washington Ballet Studios, for 7×7: Love Duets.

I love seeing the one show annually here at the studios. The performance space is so very scan0003small, so intimate. There’s all of like six rows of seating. We find seats in row two, down on the floor before the risers, to the extreme right. We try saving a seat for Becky, but eventually give up. She never does make it.

First up is Desire, music Spiegel Im Spiegel by Arvo Part, choreography by Steven Mills, the artistic director for Ballet Austin. Dancing is Elizabeth Gaither and Chip Coleman. You know I loves me my Elizabeth Gaither. And the music is haunting and lovely, piano and violin. One of my favorites of the night.

Second is Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, music the song of the same name by Soft Cell, choreography by Adam Hougland. Dancing are Jade Payette, Morgan Rose, Jason Hartley, and Tamas Krizsa. It’s an up-tempo leaping around work, with a bit of annoying little waving hello and goodbye literalism in it. The joke is that the guys run off together at the end, leaving the women stunned. It’s mostly forgettable, except that Jade Payette is one of my new favorites, so it’s good to see her. And Morgan Rose works really well in it too. She’s never been much on my radar, but something about her normal Anglo prettiness works really well with the early 80s costume. She just looks so right in the part.

Next is Out of Time, music Piano Concerto in G Major by Ravel, choreography by Edward Liang. Dancing is our new friend Brianne Bland, with Runqiao Du. Again no surprise that it’s one of my favorites. Classical ballet danced to classical music. Duh.

Fourth is a generally awful modern piece to beautiful Handel, from his opera Tolomeo, re d’Egitto (Ptolemy, King of Egypt). Called Aria: 1&2, appropriately enough since the music is two songs, Stille amare and Ch’io parta? It’s a weird abstract piece, with three men and one woman. Isn’t this supposed to be seven love duets?

Back after intermission with 2 Long 2 Love, music by Phillip Glass (in a good mood), choreography by Nejla Y. Yatkin, danced by Laura Urgellés, Luis Torres, and Elizabeth Gaither. The theme works well here, with Luis and Elizabeth dancing together while Laura is clearly the jilted lover, dancing alone. I’m glad the choreography isn’t too animated, given that the floor is carpeted with (fake, paper) rose petals.

Sixth is Falling Away with You, music Ruled by Secrecy and Falling Away with You by Muse, choreography by Washington Ballet’s own Jared Nelson. Dancing are Runqiao Du, Aurora Dickie, Tyler Savoie, and Liza Balough. Best I can say is that the women have nice bright red costumes.

Last is easily my least favorite, Last Night on Earth, insufferable music MB by Apocalyptica, choreography by Mark Dendy. The music is like a string quartet plugged in and with distortion like through a fuzzbox or something. Not especially pleasant. And practically the whole company is dancing. All too much.

We’re out the door pretty quickly. In the car and turned around heading home, we see Jared Nelson walking down Wisconsin Avenue. Then a minute later we notice that we’re waiting at a light next to Luis Torres in his Nissan. Ballet celebrity spotting is so much easier up at the studios. We never see the dancers offstage at the Kennedy Center.

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