The Athenaeum. Aug. 6 ushered in a crowd-pleasing new First Friday format for The Athenaeum with Dance Kaleidoscope and Ensemble Voltaire performing in the first floor theater space. David Hochoy restaged two pieces from his "Frere Jacques" as if on a fashion runway, between two banks of seats, with a theater-in-the-round sensibility yet truncated into a rectangle.
This juxtaposition of space gave an added edginess to the already angular music of Jacques Brel, whose grim songs of love, death and life-struggles are a-swirl in high energy and cutting emotion. Mariel Greenlee and Timothy June moved seductively to the flamenco-themed music while engaging viscerally with the darker lyrics of "Marathon." George Salinas was like an airborne circus barker selling us Brel's bitingly funny "Jackie's Song." Within minutes, we were transported from Brel's mid-20th century by Ensemble Voltaire to the philosopher's literary 18th century, during which the signature Baroque music expressed order — "the fundamental order of the universe."
Lively and tuneful music, it's Johann Sebastian Bach's hand at contrapuntal technique crossing over Italian and French textures, rhythms and forms that made meaningful the jump between centuries as Ensemble Voltaire players brought harpsichord, flute, violin/viola and viola de gambo into motion, easing our bodies into quieter breathing.
DK's next performance is a presentation of fan-favorites pieces, Aug. 19-22, at the Athenaeum.