As I was getting ready to write this post I learned the passing of a dear friend, an elder in our family, our beloved Melin agabey, a gentle soul and a kind man. I dedicate this post to his memory. RIP Melin.
After much rehearsals and tweaking, last night Festival Ballet Production of Agon & Orchis delighted the audience. Agon has world-wide recognition and rightly so for its ground breaking concept and initial performance in 1957. “Contest”, coming from Greek seems to be the element that drives Agon, but Orchis brings a new dimension to the “contest”.
The photographs of dead orchid flowers looming larger than life behind the very much alive dancers presented a different kind of contest, between life and death, stillness and movement, two-dimensional versus three-dimensional. In its power to captivate the audience’s imagination and excite their senses Orchis also entered the contest against the time-honored Agon. If you don’t see this performance you will likely regret it!
As you can imagine, I was absolutely delighted to see the dancers with their graceful movements at times echoing the shapes of the flowers and at times reflecting the imagination of the choreographer Viktor Plotnikov. The combination of great choreography, wonderful music by Sonya Belousova, and the inclusion of the haunting photographs on that huge screen created a memorable experience for all.
The following photographs are from the “dress” rehearsal on March 7, but most of the costumes for Orchis were still in production. The finished costumes for all the dancers but one are plain gray with dark mottled paint applied to reflect the similar qualities of the photographs. I remember talking about the gray costumes with Toots Zynsky back in June at a meeting, I am glad that Toots and Beth Bentley kept to that idea. There is one special costume which you will see in the rehearsal photographs. It resurrects the dead orchid and slowly moves across the stage worn by a suitably tall Dylan Giles.
At the end of the performance, as Misha had asked, I walked to back stage and on Misha’s command walked on stage with Beth and Sonya and took a bow. The lights on stage were blinding, I could not see anything beyond the edge of the stage. As I started to walk to the other side, I turned back and saw Sonya and Beth standing and not knowing how to proceed I slowed down and stopped and started clapping my hands looking at the line of dancers. As I noticed them walking towards the front it was too late for me to go anywhere and they were kind enough to open a space for me and I walked with them to take a second bow. Although walking with the full line of dancers was a very special experience for me, as if I were one of them, I must first apologize to all the dancers for having fouled up their final bow, then I thank you for taking me among you. Here are a couple of photographs a friend took and shared of that experience, thank you Noreen:
Congratulations are due to Kirsten Evans who got promoted to Company Dancer last night at the reception. See her picture as #4 in the Agon series below.
Here is Agon (Agon choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust)
Here is Orchis