April 16–25, 2004
Reviewed by Ninotchka Bennahum
Colorado Ballet’s new Peter Pan opens and closes with a wonderful animé: A flickering green winged light dances around the curtain, which lifts to a scrim of the starry sky across which Peter Pan flies throughout the night.
This unfinished choreography represents a collaborative effort between Artistic Director Martin Fredmann; two unseasoned choreographers, Gregory K. Gonzales and Andrew Thompson; and the librettist, Richard Philp (DM Editor in Chief Emeritus). Although the company danced its heart out, there was no saving this choreographic play. The dance steps merely add up to a series of literal gestures and empty pantomime rather than the full expression of a dance language or vocabulary; only the animation and aerial performance allow the audience to escape into the vivid fun of a child’s dream.
The ballet opens in an immense bedroom where Wendy Darling, danced by Maria Mosina, dreams of good—Peter Pan, Tinker Bell—and evil—Captain Hook. Pan, wittily danced by the talented Chauncey Parsons, brings the story alive with his aerial performance and acts as a dramatic link between scenes.
Through a series of vignettes, Gonzales and Thompson try to transport us, along with Wendy and her brothers, into a make-believe world. Captain Hook (Gonzales) flees his greatest fear, a crocodile that slides across the stage to the ominous ticking of a metronome. Wendy wanders fearlessly past, through a mythic world filled with pirates, lost boys, fairies, mermaids, and the beloved Tinker Bell, beautifully danced by Sharon Wehner. A tribe of Indians dances with turned-in poses in a large circular formation, recalled Nijinsky’s Rite of Spring. (But they are presented as primitives, a dangerous exoticism that should be reconsidered.)
A live orchestra would have enhanced Fredmann’s artful choice of Délibe’s Sylvia and Minkus’ La Source. Still, the closing scene is moving: A ship sails past in the star-studded sky as Pan teaches his own daughter, Wendy’s child, how to fly—every kid’s dream.
For more information: www.coloradoballet.org