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Orlando Ballet stages powerful performance of Carmen

Show reflects heat of original 1949 production

Photo: Michael Cairns, License: N/A, Created: 2011:02:10 20:22:18

Michael Cairns

Chung resembles Yasukawa, but her character and the execution of her moves is her polar opposite. Both dancers display impressive technical perfection and musicality, but where Yasukawa's movement explodes with fury, Chung's delicate, angelic performance begs the audience to sympathize with her as her lover leaves her for Carmen. Hill has cast them brilliantly, manipulating their moves so that they seem to wholly embody the sinful and saintly natures of their characters.

After Carmen lures Don José from his fiancee, he surrenders his red jacket to Carmen as a symbol of the sacrifice he's made for her – but just as he's given it all up for her, he watches through a window as Yasukawa and Palkens perform the most sexually driven pas de deux of the evening. The choreography is lascivious and the audience is propelled forward by the characters' lust for one another.

Carmen wears a fitted red corset and black fabric dangles just below her hips. Escamillo is shirtless; his long, lean stature and technical prowess resemble the infamous 1980 Escamillo danced by Mikhail Baryshnikov. A bed sits just off center stage, and as the two dance around it and on it, the ballet reaches its climax. With a lift in which Palkens raises Yasukawa over his head from a seated position and stands to flip her around his waist, they seal the deal. The audience exhales; the anticipation that set the stage at the beginning of the show is nearly gone, save for the final tragic scene in which Don José loses his mind and stabs and kills Carmen in a jealous, bitter rage.

After the usual series of bows and Hill's quick wave from the side of the stage, the audience filters out of the theater. A woman turns over her shoulder and whispers, “Wow, that wasn't boring at all.” If the audience had expected boring, Hill has proved them wrong. His choreography hasn't entirely remodeled the ballet, but his interpretation of the original delivered enough fire to deftly pull off his minor renovations.

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