“Until Thursday night, I’d never seen a ball pit in a ballet, but now that I’ve watched dancers dive into one, whip up waves of plastic orbs, bean one another with them, juggle them and spit them out of their mouths, I never need to see another. It was that much fun. May the wonderful, wacky ball pit in Trey McIntyre’s new ballet remain his alone, an inimitable choreographic device that in his hands produces pure joy.
“Teeming Waltzes,” as the ballet is called, anchors the Washington Ballet’s “Three World Premieres” program. This program is a delight. “Teeming Waltzes” is a classy affair, accompanied by Strauss waltzes, performed live by a string quartet and Glenn Sales on piano. The minimalist yellow and black costumes, created by Pum Lefebure of the graphic design firm Design Army, look a little French (think of Christian Lacroix’s colorful frocks for Massine’s “Gaîté Parisienne,” at American Ballet Theatre) with a touch of ’60s mod. The bold effect is warmed by the dancers’ high-spirited rapport, in and out of the ball pit.
In truth, the upstage pit offers just a brief detour from the dancing, which unspools in fluid phrases and witty, freewheeling duets between Alex Kramer and Corey Landolt, and Maki Onuki and Tobias Praetorius. McIntyre’s restraint with the jokes and his fluency in mixing ballet with vernacular gesture makes it all cohere, and the competitive antics develop smoothly into a sheer exhilaration of moving, which in the case of Onuki and Praetorius looks like flying.”
“In the barrage of new ballets that Washington has had lately, only one eluded a fundamental sameness. It was Trey McIntyre’s “Teeming Waltzes”. I’m thinking not just of The Washington Ballet’s bill of three premiers but also of the Jones/Zane group’s trilogy, of the New York City Ballet’s two programs and of additional fare.
For “Teeming Waltzes”, which closed The Washington Ballet’s program of premiers, chamber music was adapted from the compositions of waltz king Johann Straus II by J.P. Wogaman. Also, I suspect, choreographer McIntyre was outing two couples. He does it without rancor, in a light and matter-of-fact manner. One pair is Max and Moritz, the incorrigible boys whose pranks fill Wilhelm Busch’s stories for children – tales that have been popular in Middle Europe since the middle 1800s. By adding a dash of Freud, an embrace here plus a hand touch there, the two lads are shown to be gay. Max and Moritz remain incorrigible. The other couple is from the operetta “Die Fledermaus” (“The Flittermouse”, text by Karl Haffner and Richard Genee and music, of course, by Strauss II). This is an adult pair: Rosalinda and, likely, her Alfred. They are outed as sadomasochists. McIntyre’s ballet is fun. Alex Kramer and Corey Landolt mimedanced the two lads with vigor. The diminutive Maki Onuki as Rosalinda was a magnum of sensual glee and Tobias Praetorius, stripped on top to below his belly button, was stalwart. The puzzling thing is why McIntyre would make such a ballet for a Washington audience unlikely to recognize the character references. This ballet ought to be in Vienna’s or Berlin’ s repertory. A female corps of six does traipsing and marching and waltzing.”