Friday, December 11, 2009

Another Review of Nai-Ni's "Three Riddles of Turandot" performed by NJ Ballet

NJ Ballet Goes International in Mayo Center Appearance
Dance Critic
Published: Dec 9th, 9:53 PM

Looking very sharp and up-to-date, New Jersey Ballet took a mini-world tour during a Nov. 7 appearance at the Community Theatre of the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts in Morristown. This was the first of an annual three performance series the company offers at the theater, and it had something for everyone.

The centerpiece of the program, which was billed as “A World Tour of Dance,” was the world premiere of “The Three Riddles of Turandot,” a ballet created for the company by choreographer Nai-Ni Chen, who directs her own New Jersey-based modern dance troupe. Chen, who is from China, took both her inspiration and her musical accompaniment from Puccini’s opera, so you might say that, in that selection, New Jersey Ballet was hitting both China and Italy on its world tour.

Perhaps in the spirit of European grand opera, Chen chose to put the women on pointe. The movement language was largely neoclassical, but reflected the choreographer’s background in traditional Chinese dance and in modern movement as well.

In works for her own company, Chen has always used props like ribbons, flags and even bamboo rods to extend the lines and motions of her dancers. She did that to great effect in “Turandot,” with swaths of white gauze stretched across the stage by white-clad dancers, red silk flags manipulated by dancers in red silk, and banners with Chinese characters descended from the ceiling. These last apparently represented the three challenges the Princess Turandot presents to her would-be suitors.

Kerry Mara Cox projected a cold and powerful presence as the vengeful princess, and Andre Luis Teixeira, as the man who meets her challenge, handled Chen’s choreography adeptly, as did the others in the large cast. A nod should go to Karen Young for her beautiful costumes.

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