The Sacramento Bee
“The artists of the Sacramento Ballet danced their way through the human heart in their current production – from flirtation to obsession to the complexity of modern love.
Dancers teased and showed off their partners in George Balanchine’s playful “Who Cares?” Beautifully choreographed and passionately danced, the premiere of Trey McIntyre’s “The Illuminations” follows a couple whose love anchors them in a busy and confusing world. And the premiere of Ron Cunningham’s “Carmen” deftly retells the story of the gypsy femme fatale and the men who loved her.
Though it too is set in a big city, the tone of “The Illuminations” is far from the easygoing glamour of the first piece. Urgency, eeriness and stirring beauty are the hallmarks of the work by New York-based choreographer McIntyre. It was danced to Benjamin Britten’s setting for a series of poems of the same title by Arthur Rimbaud.
The dance charts the relationship that forms between a couple in the midst of a rushing and somewhat menacing crowd. A lithe, melting Amanda Peet and dynamic Easton Smith conveyed passion, not only through embraces but through their entire range of movement.
Without the crowd, they danced intimately, with Peet wrapped around Smith or held in striking lifts. But when the other dancers emerged – sometimes gathering in a corner, other times racing past – the couple danced less closely, and Peet was even carried off by other men.
Steve Odenhal’s lighting design intensified the drama of the work, with lights from silver pipes overhead piercing the smoky stage. Keeping love alive is no easy task, as the separation of another couple suggested.
At one point, Smith and Peet stood apart and stared into bright lights at the edge of the stage, as if transfixed and separated by what they saw. But the next time they looked, they held hands. Whatever they saw, it was a challenge they’ll face together.”