March 2- 8, 2006
artpicksCourt and Spark
Pennsylvania Ballet's got, that's right, the ubiquitous Benergy. The company joins Philadelphia's celebration of Ben Franklin's 300th B.D. with the reprisal of Franklin Court, created by former PAB artistic director Christopher d'Amboise. Inspired by our famous founding father as well as the postmodern steel-framed interpretation of his house located in Old City, the piece presents abstract representations of some of Ben's inventions, including two famous ones that really caught on (electricity and bifocals) and another not-so-famous one that assumes new life when translated into movement (swim fins).
Performed to Bach's G Minor Fugue, with brisk, meticulous choreography highlighted by an imaginative, high-tech set, ballet master Jeffrey Gribler says that Franklin Court is "relatively formal and has a very ladylike and gentlemanly feel, but Christopher being Christopher, it's got a lot of attack and a contemporary edge."
The other piece on the program, The Firebird, is familiar to many a balletomane; however, this version, choreographed by James Kudelka, is not your father's Firebird. The choreography is complex and according to Gribler it's technically challenging: "There are very tricky steps, especially for the bird, which is like, 'Wow.'"
The scope is so big it uses every member of the company. And while the storyline is still based on Russian folk tales, the visuals here evoke Mayan and Pacific Rim locales. Elaborate costumes plus a flashy set featuring a bridge and pyramid make it a real looker. Gribler notes, "This is on a Peking Opera scale. The production values are huge."
The Firebird/Franklin Court, Pennsylvania Ballet, Fri., March 3, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 4, noon and 8 p.m.; Sun., March 5, 2 p.m., through March 11, $10-$111, Academy of Music, Broad and Locust sts., 215-551-7000.