Grand Rapids Ballet’s ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ is powerful and artistic
By Adrienne Warber
Grand Rapids Ballet’s production of “Dangerous Liaisons” is a powerful comment on humanity that both seduces and shocks the senses. The ballet is based on the Oscar-winning 1988 movie, “Dangerous Liaisons,” and classic book by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, which spins a web of deception that leads to many steamy love affairs and broken hearts. Grand Rapids Ballet brings the story to life through dance through Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s inventive choreography and a highly talented cast of dancers. This is a show both dance and theater fans will enjoy. The show opened last weekend at the Peter Martin Wege Theatre, and Grand Rapids Ballet will perform three more shows this weekend, Feb. 19-21.
‘Dangerous Liaisons’ in Today’s World
The movie and book, “Dangerous Liaisons,” take place in 18th century Baroque France. Choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa wanted this version of “Dangerous Liaisons” to be more modern to make it more relevant to today’s audience. A couple of other ballet companies have made versions of the story that took place in the Baroque era. Grand Rapids Ballet’s contemporary version is a fresh take on the story.
The contemporary approach truly showcased Lopez Ochoa’s skillful choreography and the strong technique of Grand Rapids Ballet’s dancers. The minimalistic set, the moveable panels, the atmospheric lighting by Michael Mazzola, and the mix of classical music with techno trance music created the perfect background for the emotionally charged dancing. Scenes transitioned well with how the dancers artistically moved the panels around the stage. Danielle Truss’ clever costumes were a combination of modern and Baroque style, and fit the story well.
Modernizing the story also highlighted how easily this story could take place today. During the show, the audience could easily imagine some scenes in a club today. This ballet is about real characters with true flaws and issues that are relevant to today’s audience.
Dancing with Emotion
A successful narrative ballet production has strong dance technique and engages the audience in the story. Grand Rapids Ballet’s “Dangerous Liaisons” excels in both of these areas.
Nicholas Schultz and Yuka Oba gave outstanding performances as the main characters Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil. Schultz and Oba danced with expert skill and emotion. They really brought out both the charm and cruelty of the characters. They really show the audience both their joy in the game and ultimately their pain when it all falls apart.
The production contains both classical ballet technique and contemporary movement on pointe. The pointe work was very strong and skillful. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s trademark creativity was evident in the partnering and the corps scenes. The choreography and dancing was especially good at making the audience feel a full spectrum of emotions during the storyline. The dancers truly conveyed the tone and plot of each scene with their movements and expressions. The cast delivers in both acting and dancing. Lopez Ochoa’s theater background is evident in the production.
Grand Rapids Ballet’s “Dangerous Liaison” Weekend Shows
The production opened last weekend and many shows were sold out. There is still a chance to see it. Grand Rapids Ballet will present three more shows this weekend, Feb. 19-21, at the Peter Martin Wege Theatre, located at 341 Ellsworth SW, Grand Rapids. Friday and Saturday evening shows start at 7:30 p.m., and the final matinee show begins at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase either online through TicketMaster or by calling the Grand Rapids Ballet Box Office at 616-454-4771, ext.10. This is a show that West Michigan dance fans should see because it may be one of the season’s best.
Originally published on Examiner.com on February 19, 2016