At Sunday’s final performance of Philadanco’s program the audience burst into applause at the opening stage picture in the Christopher Huggins premiere ‘Bolero’ because of its instant atmospheric beauty and style. The 12 dancers are silhouettes over a red lit backdrop and posed provacatively. The women are costumed in short red mini-dresses ala Carmen and the men in wide-back corseted belts, cut over matador pants. It spells sex, but there is no bull in this dance arena.
It is exciting, unpredictable and lush. Huggins uses the hot house salon scene d’ action to liberate Bolero past horny classicism or, most to the point, intellectualism. His choreographic palette is both subtle and pyrotechnic, dramatic and comic, set to a propulsive recording by the Berlin Philharmic. Just as this version escapes clichés, Huggins has something new to say choreographically to this oft used warhorse.
Huggins knows this company and shows all of Philadanco’s strengths. There are some matador moves on the men in the entrances and exits of silky saut de basque lines and huge, twisting layout sequences. The women pick up the internal combustion of Ravel with mico-torso oscillations that bloom into lacerating motion.
The couples smolder with daring lift sequences that keep snaking off of Ravel’s bassoon progressions. Huggins fills the stage with tight unison jump patterns in the concussive ending.
Artistic Director Joan Myers Brown wanted Huggins to create something unique for her company’s 40th anniversary. His 2001 work Enemy Behind the Gates was an instant company classic and his Bolero is already indelibly executed by these dancers.