Chamber Ballet Taipei’s (台北室內芭蕾舞團) founder and artistic director Allen Yu (余能盛) has crafted a nice little work in Romance — The Music and The Destiny of Tchaikovsky (羅曼史～柴可夫斯基的音樂與人生), which was performed to packed audiences at Metropolitan Hall over the weekend.
On Saturday night the young company, accompanied by the Taipei Symphony Orchestra (台北市立交響樂團), looked in fine form, with several of the dancers having notably improved over the past year. The two Romanian guest soloists, Christina Alexandra Dijmaru and Bordan Stefan Canila, were a perfect fit for the company; although technically more advanced than the other dancers they weren’t so flashy that they stole every scene.
The first section, set to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C, Op.48 focused on Tchaikovsky’s platonic relationship with his patroness for 13 years, Nadezhda von Meck, whose passion was expressed only through letters.
In the second half of this section, two birdcages appear — one with a nude man in it, the second a nude woman — setting off a tortured duet that suggests the physical passion that the pair could never express in real life. Meanwhile, Dijmaru and Canila, as the spiritual side to Tchaikovsky’s relationship with von Meck, have a nice little pas de deux and they were just beautiful to watch.
This half of the show featured Canila as a tortured Tchaikovsky, torn between his music and the relationships with the major players in his life — his mother, von Meck, his nephew and his classmate — with each figure enclosed by a large picture frame.
The one distraction in the second half of the program, set to Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major,Op.35 was guest violinist Tseng Yu-chien (曾宇謙). From where I was seated, I had a clear view of the 18-year-old’s violin and sometimes found myself more mesmerized by his fingering than with what was going on over his head. He got a rousing, and well-deserved, round of applause at curtain call time.
Overall I though the first half of the show worked better than the second in conveying the storyline, though the dancing, especially the group pieces in both were varied and interested. I just found the anguish of the tortured artist a bit too much toward the end.
Someone who did not get a special round of applause on stage, but should have, was costume designer Keith Lin (林秉豪), who has designed for the company several times before. He created quasi-19th century dresses for the women in the Serenade section as well as some great-looking unitards printed with musical notations, while for the Concerto section he had classic tutus (a first for the company).
The production will now move to Tainan for two performances next weekend at Tainan Municipal Cultural Center Performance Hall.
It is too bad we have to wait until next summer to see more of Yu and the Chamber Ballet, but I’m already looking forward to next year’s production.
Meanwhile, across town Los Angeles-based hip hop quartet Far East Movement, who are perhaps best known for their single Like A G6, made their second appearance in as many years at Luxy on Friday. An enthusiastic crowd filled the main room of the club and responded well to the group’s high-energy, on-stage theatrics.
The group told the Taipei Times before the show that they had been looking forward to partying again in Taipei — and party they did.