Arts » Theater + Dance

Review: DK's 'Passionate Puccini'


Caitlin Swihart and Kenoth Shane Patton in DK's "Puccini's People."
  • Caitlin Swihart and Kenoth Shane Patton in DK's "Puccini's People."

4.5 stars
Dance Kaleidoscope; Indiana Repertory Theatre mainstage; March 3-6.

An enduring humanity surrounds DK’s visualization of Puccini’s Act I duet from Madama Butterfly (2001) and Puccini’s People (1992) set on eight different Puccini arias. David Hochoy’s story telling in each case is so intimately tied to life transcending time and place, we become deeply involved in our own experiences as we witness the interactions and relationships between dancers and internalize individuals coping.

By extrapolating four couples into the intimate wedding duet between Pinkerton, the American naval officer who is pledging his undying love for his young Japanese bride, we witness over and over again similar “duets” with four females totally trusting with leaps into the ready arms of four males. And we witness four males in macho attitudes foreshadowing a wrenching ending. Laura Glover’s exquisite lighting matches the pulsing tidal waves of Puccini’s music as a counterpoint to the dancers whose drama sweeps in and out of configurations as if trying to escape the inevitable.

With Puccini’s People, Hochoy sets us up as voyeurs in a street scene teeming with people whose eyes we want to avoid yet we are drawn into their slice of life moment. Each dancer exquisitely cuts and burnishes a dimensional character. To Vissi d’arte Zach Young emerges cocoon-like from a previous state into a new being, fragile yet beautiful. To O mio babbino caro Caitlin Swihart defies infirmity on crutches to extend her reach with arm movements simulating flight. With Un bel di Brandon Comer emulates the agony of Madama Butterfly. Jillian Godwin and George Salinas take Nessun dorma o a new dimension as a raggedy couple high on drugs. Liberty Harris is a peerless sophisticate with feet and hands ensconced in shopping bags, as the ultimate materialistic Musetta in Quando men vo.

E lucevan le stele becomes drama within drama as Mariel Greenlee, entering as a crone, escapes into a mirror to reflect her former beautiful self. Kenoth Shane Patton, bound hand and foot with rope wiggles free only to get hung. The apotheosis to Humming chorus from Madama Butterfly calls each to re-enter, die, and rise heavenward, leaving behind the trappings of their less than idyllic life.

The program opened with the world premiere of “Ancient Airs and Dances” set to music by Ottorino Respighi. Its courtly architectural movements carried us into a respite from the rush of the day truly to sit back, relax and enjoy. Costumes by Cheryl Sparks and Barry Doss earn mention.


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