Bravo to the Butler Ballet for taking risks on two out of the ordinary pieces, presented in its new, intimate performance space, the Schrott Center for the Arts. First up was Pierrot Lunaire. Imagine the Addams Family on steroids depicting a melodrama of a melancholy puppet in the moonlight and you have the gist of Larry A. Attaway's staging and choreography of Arnold Schoenberg's music set on twenty-one poems by Albert Giraud.
Soprano Mary Nessinger narrated jolting events in the Sprechstimme style popular in the late 19th century. James Caraher expertly conducted an ensemble of five players. Clothed in black and white with red accents and bedeviled by grotesque floating animal heads and Alice-in-Wonderland-type characters, the ensemble of seven dancers meticulously changed shape as the piece changed moods.
I gained even greater appreciation the second time around for Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal) (1980), Susan McGuire's setting of Paul Taylor's choreographic charade set on music by Igor Stravinsky arranged for two piano. (The piece was first presented earlier this this year during Butler's Midwinter Dance Festival.) The dancers delivered on Taylor's absurd scenario depicting people caught in their moments of misery and officiousness.