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|A CurtainUp Berkshires Review
The Seven Deadly Sins
Three sinfully delectable dancing chocolate kisses, as well as a giant baked potato and hot dog, surround the droll roly poly central character of "Gluttony" -- the third of the seven sins that comprise this week's world premiere at Jacob's Pillow. "Anger", illuminated in hues of black and red, moves to the sinewy tango-influenced music of Astor Piazzolla. In "Lust" the aptly named Richard Move showcases ballerina Helene Alexopoulous's ability to make impossible body contortions possible. "Pride " struts on stage for a grand finale with a decidedly glittery Broadway show beat and a full contingent of amusingly attired cast members (including, you guessed it, a pair of preening and prancing peacocks).
Some of the seven choreographer-cooks who have concocted this 7-course intermissionless meal also perform. Several performers sing and talk as well as dance. It therefore wasn't all that surprising to see Rebecca Winsocky, who is known to me as an actress (most recently as the title character in The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant-- see link), as one of the five women who squabble over a pair of red shoes and other possessions, in the most story-like segment, "Greed".
If not all seven dances are equally sin-ational, this conflagration of talent from the worlds of ballet, modern dance and theater makes for a fascinating and entertaining evening. The dancers are all outstanding and this multi-faceted collaboration marks yet another step in the crossover between the genre of theater and dance ( think Contact which provoked some controversy as to whether it fit the Tony Awards category for musicals).
The appeal of the sin theme is hardly new, its lure dating back to Christian theology. The traditional deadly seven (sloth, anger, gluttony, lust, envy, greed, pride) have been previously interpreted by painters, writers and composers and as Jacob's Pillow director Ellen Baff pointed out in her welcoming remarks, "we've all probably committed some." The dynamic septet of choreographers responsible for the current world premiere were preceded in 1933 by what was dubbed "the unholy trio " -- George Balanchine, Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht -- who joined forces for a ballet also called The Seven Deadly Sins.
While most of the dances are shaped and executed so that it's easy to identify the sin being interpreted, there is a certain degree of overlap which in some instances makes it easy to mistake one for another. Some sort of a sign lit up with the title and performers would have been a welcome and enlightening pause between dances (I noticed a lot of audience members straining to read their programs). If this is too costly for a one-week presentation, voiceovers would serve the same purpose and not be out of tune or step given that this is a dance evening with live talking and singing.
In the final analysis what makes The Seven Deadly Sins soar is the talent on display. There are too many outstanding performances to give more than a blanket Bravo!
LINKS TO OTHER WORKS MENTIONED AND REVIEWED AT CurtainUp
Vers La Flame
Fosse-- choreographed by Chet Walker, one of the prime movers behind Seven Deadly Sins
The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant (with color picture of Rebecca Wisocky)