• Helen Pickett
  • Helen Pickett
  • Helen Pickett
  • Helen Pickett
  • Helen Pickett

Choreography Reviews


CAMINO REAL

In The Loop, The Studio
By Manning Harris
Atlanta Ballet has accomplished a real coup in their intensely imaginative, beautifully performed world premiere ballet of Tennessee Williams’ 1953 play “Camino Real.” Helen Pickett, Atlanta Ballet’s resident choreographer, has wrought sheer magic here. The company has created a major work that I predict will not only last, but become a legend in the dance world.
I happen to think that Williams would have loved the hypnotic, intoxicating ambience of Atlanta Ballet’s “Camino.” Trying to describe it is like attempting to catch quicksilver.

The Backstage Beat
With Atlanta Ballet’s “Camino Real,” Spring Comes In Like a Lion
By Amy Howton | March 22, 2015
I could be a Helen Pickett groupie. I loved “Prayer of Touch,” adored “Petal,” and was moved and fascinated by “The Exiled.” She entraps my mind within the intricacies of the movement she designs; then, like the Pied Piper, she leads me on a vision quest to find myself within the stories she tells…The experience in the theatre was as overwhelming as the King of Beasts himself.

The ballet is multifaceted. There are momentary flashes of historical dance forms, but they are swiftly replaced by Pickett’s own creations. She has sculpted each character out of movement, and each is individual within the group. There is no understatement in this ballet, and no action is wasted. The characters shout out to the audience, sometimes in dance, and sometimes in spoken words layered atop everything else. The technique is exquisite and the gesture is expressive, but these elements fade into background; the characters are in-your-face and the story dominates everything. The cast sometimes broke into big “numbers” –a beautifully-rehearsed, simultaneous ensemble reminiscent of a Broadway cast breaking into song—and in those moments the ballet seemed to sing with a joy that belied its dark story line.

I think this ballet will be an instant success, and is ultimately destined to become one of the classic works in the repertoires of major companies. You can say you saw it first in Atlanta.

ARTSATL
Helen Pickett creates stunningly original achievement with “Camino Real”
By, Cynthia Bond Perry, March 23, 2015

…When the scrim dropped and lights went black on the world premiere of Helen Pickett’s dance theater adaptation of Camino Real, there was a startled hush in the Cobb Energy Centre house. With that reaction came a palpable sense that they knew they had witnessed an extraordinary creative achievement. 

With Camino, Atlanta Ballet had not just broken the fourth wall; dancers had successfully broken the speaking wall, extending their range into a form of dance theater that’s rare for an American ballet company. It’s the latest forward stride in a series of works by Pickett, intent on making that “leap of faith” across the footlights. With Camino Real, Pickett has taken another great leap into unknown territory and the result is stunning.

Camino Real left me feeling as if ballet’s expressive reach had just been extended.


THE EXILED, Atlanta Ballet

Atlanta Ballet ends exciting season with ‘MAYhem’
By Chelsea Thomas, May 18, 2014

The second work on the program, The Exiled, was a world premiere by the company’s Resident Choreographer Helen Pickett. This work was by far the most intriguing to me,…

In addition to gorgeous choreography chockfull with breathtaking leaps and duets, the work utilizes other elements to bring this world to life, including a boxed-in set that confines the three prisoners and spoken narration performed by Clark and Mara. In particular, the use of spoken word was a wonderfully crafted tool in the hands of Pickett, drawing viewers farther into this otherworldly situation that revealed the truly ambiguous nature of good and evil.

As The Exiled progresses, the three prisoners – played by John Welker, Rachel Van Buskirk and Alessa Rogers – fight, seduce and attempt to escape to no success, ultimately coming to a place of demented acceptance. They shed their clothes like the layers of their pride, eventually exposing their inner natures and selfish motivations. The piece ends with no resolution, no neat wrap-up. And yet, somehow Pickett seems to perfectly achieve what she set out for – a work exposing the intricacies of human existence. If this is a foreshadowing of how she will approach next season’s full-length world premiere of Camino Real then audiences have something to look forward to.

 

The BACKSTAGE BEAT By Amy Howton on May 20, 2014

Helen Pickett emerges as a storyteller as well as a choreographer. This piece doesn’t allow the audience members merely to observe; they are required to participate intellectually and emotionally.


THE CRUCIBLE Scottish Ballet

The Scotsman, By Kelly Apter, September 27, 2014
Theatre Royal, Glasgow ****
THE dance world needs more Helen Picketts. Choreographers who can take the genre of narrative ballet and hurl it into the 21st century, as Californian-born Pickett does with Scottish Ballet’s new production of The Crucible.
Helen Pickett’s The Crucible is visually and aurally dynamic. It’s clear from the opening dialogue that this is very much a story ballet, backed up by the chairs, pulpit and 17th century costumes.
But from there, Pickett gives us quirky, angular movements; bodily manifestations of the characters’ fears, while moments of love and desire take on a more rounded, sensual quality.
The music jumps from the Vertigo soundtrack to Hindemith to beat-heavy electronica, which, coupled with Pickett’s interesting use of lighting, makes for a visually and aurally dynamic journey.
The Guardian, By, Alice Bain, 28 September 2014
“Savvy and sophisticated,…”

The Herald Scotland By Mary Brennan, 29 September 2014
Clever, powerful, inventive,…with the dancers in mighty, blazing form.
Helen Pickett's pared-back response to Arthur Miller's The Crucible goes for the vengeful, superstitious guts of the play and compresses the drama into a handful of scenes.

Tweets from Scotland:
"An extraordinarily imaginative performance." ✮✮✮✮✮ Scottish Daily Express. ‪#SBCrucibleTen opens in ‪#Edinburgh tonight, don't miss it!
Absolutely blown away by ‪@scottishballet tonight! My jaw literally dropped during The Crucible! ‪#chills ‪#insane


POINTE Magazine

Ballet Choreography: It's Kinda Great Again
Jennifer Stahl's blog

Helen Pickett Tsukiyo

Sabi Varga, left, and Lia Cirio in Helen Pickett's "Tsukiyo" at Boston Ballet, photo by Gene Schiavone

Is ballet's post-Balanchine choreography rut finally over? Roslyn Sulcas, a contributor to Pointe, argues today in The New York Times that it is. She points out that works by Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky and Wayne McGregor offer a completely new way of using the classical vocabulary. There's also a whole generation of imaginative choreographers who came out of William Forsythe's company: David Dawson, Crystal Pite, Jacopo Godani, Helen Pickett, Jorma Elo, Emily Molnar—a group that's exceptional not only for its prolific creativity, but also for its large number of women. Just in the past couple of years we've seen two newbies with exceptional promise: Justin Peck at New York City Ballet and Liam Scarlett at The Royal Ballet.

Why is ballet choreography finally stretching in new directions and connecting with audiences again? Peck credits the distance from the shadow of Balanchine. He tells Sulcas, “There is a clearing for new creative thought in choreography. I don’t feel intimidated; there is a lot I can do that is new or innovative or different.” Pickett points to the use of technology like projections that can make ballet more cinematic and engaging. Kevin O'Hare, the new artistic director of The Royal, suggests today's interconnected world has given choreographers a broader perspective, and encouraged a willingness to take risks: “They are slightly fearless...these are people who are not afraid to fail. This generation sees so much, is open to so much, is always looking for new inspiration and collaborations. Ballet was very away from all of that, but very recently we seem to have broken down those barriers. It feels very much part of our world.”


eventide paris

Eventide – Chorégraphie Helen Pickett (Durée : 22 min)

Ce ballet, mon préféré, est d'une extrême beauté que ce soit au niveau de la chorégraphie, des costumes, des musiques et de la scénographie.
This ballet, my favorite, was one of extreme beauty on all levels, choreography, costumes, music and scenography.


Edinburgh Festival Reviews

The Sunday Times, By David Jays, August 25, 2013

We even glimpsed the Lesser Spotted Female Choreographer – often feared extinct in Britain –… American Helen Pickett appeared as a significant artist who should have been here long before now. Her quartet The Room, inspired by Huis Clos (Sartre’s “hell is other people” drama), unfolds to the impassioned scritch of Bruch’s violin concerto, and I longed for more.

ayoungertheatre.com, By Devawn Wilkinson, August 16, 2013

Such strange interplays between vulnerability and passion continue to resonate in what, for me, remained the highlight of the showcase: Helen Pickett’s The Room… Gorgeous subtleties – a cheek momentarily leant against a shoulder, a hand lingering a second longer than necessary on a thigh – strike us with surprising force.

Dance Odysseys, Published by Edinburgh Festivals
August 19, 2013, By Kelly Apter

I couldn’t take my eyes off Helen Pickett’s The Room for a second, lest I miss the ever-changing dynamics of three tortured souls shut in a room by their keeper.

The Guardian, By Judith Mackrell, August 18, 2013 

…the ferment of toxic irritation that seethes around the two couples in Helen Pickett's The Room is a familiar kind of domestic hell. I like Pickett's fiercely declamatory body language, as well as her ironic use of Max Bruch's First Violin Concerto.



PETAL – Smuin Ballet

San Francisco Chronicle
Pickett takes Smuin Ballet to new heights
By Allan Ulrich, May 13, 2013

…The Bay Area caught up with a choreographer to remember. Her name is Helen Pickett…."Petal" riveted the attention from the opening moment…The solos send an electric current through the auditorium…you do sense a spirit that binds these performers, especially in the duets, which seem fringed with danger.

San Jose Mercury 
Smuin Ballet grows up; dancers are in fluid control By Ann Murphy 05/13/2013

Helen Pickett's visually silken and color-drenched dance "Petal" sat at the center of the program as vivid as a giant dahlia.…There is a lush joy to her designs that…allow the dancers to bask in the heat and brilliance of a style that is quietly emotive, one that dares to engage the drama of bodies on stage in relationship to one another.

Dance Tabs  
By Aimee Tsao, May 14, 2013

The Smuin Ballet’s current season, Spring Bouquet, has one remarkable flower at its center,…Petal. Pickett is so concise in the way she shapes her movement phrases that the result is one where absolute clarity reigns.

SF Bay Guardian
Smuin Ballet presents a noteworthy 'Bouquet'
Rita Felciano, 05.14.13

The gem of the evening was Helen Pickett's 2008 Petal The octet, excellently performed, offered highly structured, high-octane choreography with moments of such intimacy that they sent it shivers down your back. …These people — and they were people — suggested a sense of ease within their own skin that translated to the way they connected and separated. Small caresses around someone's neck, or on an inner thigh, gave Petal one of its most appealing qualities: the intimacy of the human touch.


EVENTIDE
Vienna State Opera, February 2013

Neue-Merker, By Renate Wagner
"The one word for Helen Pickett's Eventide is: Magic!"

Die Presse, By Isabella Walnorfer
"The dance is exotic, full of ephemeral secrets, pulsating. The dynamics through the speed made the movement strong and edgy, and at the same time elegant and filled with breathless, soulful eroticism."

Wiener Zeitung, By Verena Franke
"Bubbling with eroticism is Helen's newly re-worked Eventide. Sensual red hues mixed with the silver/red costumes makes Eventide filled with feminine aura. The ballet is filled with classical lines expanded into curving momentum paired with erotic elements that look as natural as breathing."


Reviews for Prayer of Touch

Backstage Beat Atlanta
New Choreographic Voices, by Amy Howton, May 19, 2012

The first piece, Petal, proved to be the highlight of the night. Choreographed by Helen Pickett, Petal was the perfect piece for spring. The entire performance celebrated the rebirth of nature via an orgy of dance that darted from overtly sexual pas de deux to more abstract canon movements... The entire production exhibited the athletic nature of dance, and thanks to guttural grunts and a healthy coat of sweat at the end of the number, the piece showed that the Atlanta Ballet can handle the rigor of postmodern dance.

Creative Loafing, By Andrew Alexander, May 19, 2012

Helen Pickett, who set her gorgeous work "Petal" on the Atlanta Ballet last season, gives outrageously dramatic and humorous life to Mendelssohn violin music in "Prayer of Touch." The second section in particular pops off the stage with daring little flights of fancy and funny, sharply-observed manifestations of the dramatic dips and turns of Mendelssohn's music.

ARTSATL
New Choreographic Voices, By Cynthia Bond Perry, May 21, 2012

“Prayer of Touch” found the passion in Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor and personified its internal tugs, sense of urgency and struggle. The title suggests a quiet reverence, but the actual dance was filled with wit, surprises and comical quirks…


New York Times
Building on the Mastery of What Came Before,
By ROSLYN SULCAS, May 2, 2011

There’s an unusual artistic coherence to this bill. The second work, “Part I, II, III,” is by Helen Pickett, who danced with Mr. Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt for over a decade. The third, “Bella Figura” (the name of the overall program as well), is by Jiri Kylian, the Czech-born choreographer, who, like Mr. Forsythe, danced with the Stuttgart Ballet before building a substantial oeuvre as director of the Nederlands Dans Theater.
Sandwiched between two major figures, Ms. Pickett holds her own with notable poise, made all the more remarkable by her choice of music by one of the ballet world’s most overused composers, Arvo Pärt. “Tsukiyo,” the second segment of her piece, deploys the drop-by-drop piano of Mr. Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel.” But Ms. Pickett creates her own magic here in an exquisite duet that blends a limpid fluidity with a tactile warmth, danced with emotional intensity by both Ms. Breen Combes and Lorin Mathis at the matinee, and by Lia Cirio and Sabi Varga in the evening.
The first section, “Layli O Manjun,” to “Orient and Occident,” is also a pas de deux (Larissa Ponomarenko and Yury Yanowsky were particularly touching in the evening), inspired by a Persian folk tale, with themes of love and loss woven into more dramatic, larger-scale movement.
Part III, “Tabula Rasa,” offers eight dancers moving under a glowing set of light tubes, and it shows Mr. Forsythe’s influence in its juxtapositions of groups and solos, its extreme articulations and speed. It feels disconnected from the first sections, but the ballet displays Ms. Pickett’s skill, ambition and individuality.
The movement, pliant and gestural with classical lines and earthy contemporary overtones, is smoothly appealing and beautifully danced, but it’s Mr. Kylian’s intensely visual sensibility, the way he moves the eye from the individual to the larger composition and back, that is most noticeable here. In this program, you see that influence, as well as Mr. Forsythe’s, on Ms. Pickett’s work — a highly pleasurable lesson in how dance morphs, evolves and lives on.


Boston Ballet
Dance Magazine, April 30, 2011
By Wendy Perron

Helen Pickett’s Part I, II, III changes the mood with a hint of tragedy. In this series of three miniatures set to the music of Arvo Pärt, "Part I" takes place in a dim, velvety Caravaggio-like world. Kuranaga and John Lam appear and disappear into the surrounding darkness like a mirage. Based on an ancient Persian story, this section has the two melting into, protecting, or standing back from each other in voluptuous images of love and despair. In "Part II," which is based on a Japanese fairy tale, Combes reacts to Lorin Mathis’ touch with a shimmering vulnerability that reminds me of films of Margot Fonteyn as the water sprite in Ashton’s Ondine. (Pickett talks about the power of touch in our recent “Choreography in Focus.”)
This program, which continues through May 8, is a triumph for Boston Ballet. It imports two major works never before seen in the U.S. and gives us a glimpse into a new American talent—all contributing to the sharpening of the company’s aesthetic profile.


Boston Herald
Boston Ballet Moves Beautifully in ‘Bella Figura,”
By Keith Powers,  April 30, 2011

The movement, pliant and gestural with classical lines and earthy contemporary overtones, is smoothly appealing and beautifully danced, but it’s Mr. Kylian’s intensely visual sensibility, the way he moves the eye from the individual to the larger composition and back, that is most noticeable here. In this program, you see that influence, as well as Mr. Forsythe’s, on Ms. Pickett’s work — a highly pleasurable lesson in how dance morphs, evolves and lives on.


Style Boston
BOSTON BALLET’S BELLA FIGURA,
By Joseph Gordon Cleveland, April 29, 2011

The truth is I enjoyed Bella very much. It was, at times, painfully positioned and precise, and then, in a crimson flash, unabashedly frenetic. I found it to be most beautiful in the latter category…No small testament. But it wasn’t the highlight I expected it to be.
That honor is owed to the incredibly touching pas de deux, Tsukiyo, in the second act of the program. Set in a haze of lazy clouds and employing a beautifully still lighting scenario, it was the clear crowd favorite. In no small way, due to the sheer commitment of Lia Cirio’s dancing…
In no uncertain terms, Cirio is one of the most engaging dancers I have ever witnessed. There is of course the requisite precision, but of greater importance is the depth with which she imbues her movements, an emotional resonance in each extension that goes beyond a beauty of form, or, even, bella figura. She has both a fury and a fragility in her frame, and the stage never feels more alive than when she is on it.
I, you, the entire city of Boston, would do well to witness it more often.


Figuring Out Bella Figura
The Hub Review
Thomas Garvey, May 3, 2011

Bella Figura shares its program with two other worthy postmodern works: William Forsythe’s The Second Detail, one of his seminal experiments from the 80's and 90's, and the brand-new Pärt I, II & III, from Forsythe disciple Helen Pickett, who is perhaps the Ballet’s second choreographer in residence (after Jorma Elo). Taken together, these pieces provide a solid sense of the breadth and depth of the ongoing, post-Balanchine intersection of ballet and modern dance.  And one of the most richly satisfying evenings of thoughtful high culture the city has to offer right now.

The strongest was probably "Layli o Majnun," which featured fierce turns from the great Larissa Ponomarenko and Yury Yanowsky as a troubled couple, shadowed by a mysterious Lorin Mathis (identified bluntly in the program as "Madness").  This is the kind of conceit that sounds corny, but that dance can bring off thrillingly, and Pickett conjured a gripping development that led to a spooky climax in which "Madness" precisely mirrored Yanowsky's tormented moves as Ponomarenko clung to him desparately.



Bachtrack. Com - May 3, 2011
Susan Blood

Following the second detail was Pärt I, II and III, inspired by the music of Arvo Pärt and choreographed by Helen Pickett (who we were pleased to spot in the audience). Pärt I, II and III are like three tiny reliquaries, each beautifully ornamented and containing something sacred. The first is a shadowed tragedy, barely lit and heartbreaking. The second, a tender fairytale (with one of the loveliest costumes of the night). The third, an unfettered Tabula Rasa in twirling purples and blues. Unlike the other two pieces on the program, Pärt I, II and III was accompanied by the Boston Ballet Orchestra.
It is this ephemeral quality that gives us license to think and respond. To catch it, hold it, and turn it into something tangible and clearly defined is impossible. Instead, we watch the human body and react in whatever way seems most appropriate. Our contemporary choreographers have broken the rules and turned story upside down. The rest is up to us.


Reviews for PETAL in Atlanta Ballet

Atlanta Magazine
Jackson Reeves, March 26, 2011

The first piece, Petal, proved to be the highlight of the night. Choreographed by Helen Pickett, Petal was the perfect piece for spring. The entire performance celebrated the rebirth of nature via an orgy of dance that darted from overtly sexual pas de deux to more abstract canon movements... The entire production exhibited the athletic nature of dance, and thanks to guttural grunts and a healthy coat of sweat at the end of the number, the piece showed that the Atlanta Ballet can handle the rigor of postmodern dance.

ArtscriticATL.com
Dance  Review: A trio of choreographers enliven Atlanta Ballet’s “Fusion”
Cynthia Bond Perry, March 26, 2011

The audience was taken in by Helen Pickett’s “Petal,” a lushly hued, musically driving, sensually inventive and tactilely expressive look at human relationships. Vivid yellows, pinks and purple saturated the stage space as dancers deftly slipped in and out of freshly imagined configurations. Music by Philip Glass and Thomas Newman felt effervescent, impetuous, growing in urgency like a mountain stream that begins with a gentle lilt and gathers force until it’s an unstoppable, powerful surge. With speed and logic, duets folded into each other and opened out into swift sweeps of the legs, extreme leg extensions. Energized dancers propelled through space with light, quick hitch kicks, breathless suspended turns and whirling leaps, all done with a glowing physicality that spontaneously brought the audience to its feet, startled by its extreme beauty, sensuality and effervescence.

Culture Surfing
Atlanta Ballet kicks up the mix with Fusion
Andrew Alexander , March 26, 2011

The evening opens with choreographer Helen Pickett's "Petal," a gorgeous, minimalistic dance for the company in front of a spare but brightly lit and changing backdrop based on the colors of a garden in bloom. Picket doesn't just have a great eye for lovely, lyrical movement, but she also possesses a natural ease with subtle shades of emotion: There's no specific narrative for "Petal," but there is a sense of a steady, skillful unraveling of information and images as with a story. Against larger patterns of movement, Picket reveals little pockets of activity and drama. It's a piece in which the joy and sensuality of spring are everywhere, but there are also tinges of sadness, too. Beneath the prettiness, there's a haunted and troubled quality—even an unpredictability—to some of the movements, as when the women go limp in the men's arms or a single male dancer remains seated in the foreground at stage left as a rich interweaving of pairs and groups continues on the stage behind him.


Reign, Concert News, March 19, 2010, Antwerp, Belgium

Reign is sublimely poetic and intimate, with a beautiful solo danced by Eva Dewaele to the music of Rachmaninov and Mendelssohn. Mostly Cello and Piano accompany the dancers while they execute diagonal and circular movements with precision and grace. From the three works of the evening, Reign keeps closest to the classical ballet technique.


The Oklahoman, By Kathleen Redwine
‘Thr3e by Thr3e’ inventive, surprising
April 28, 2010

"Zephyrus,” choreographed by Helen Pickett, was the final ballet. Pickett, a New York City-based choreographer, said, "Zephyrus is the fleetest and softest of winds.” The dancers in this energetic work were, indeed, like the wind. Some sections soared, some whispered, but all contained a fluidity and lightness that created a bright, exuberant, ballet. Of special note in this work was the duet, danced by Emily Fine and Ronnie Underwood.


TSUKIYO Reviews

Boston Herald by Keith Powers
Boston Ballet’s ‘Passions’ right on Pointe
October 24, 2009

A world premiere of Pickett’s “Tsukiyo,” danced by Lia Cirio and Sabi Varga, showed that Nissinen’s faith in this choreographer - this is her third commission by the company - is not misplaced. Pickett’s language is profound, fluid and intimate. Set to a minimalist sonata by Arvo Part, the dancers rarely released each other, but never seemed to cling. Liquid and unique lifts, touches and bends let the enigmatic love story unfold almost as an afterthought - it was hard not to focus solely on the movement.


The Simmons Voice, by Shannon Brown, October 29, 2009

Like the quiet kid in class who does not raise her hand but aces every test, "Tsukiyo" was the stand out performance at World Passions… The most powerful aspect of Tsukiyo is the way the dancers express this desire and confusion with their entire bodies, from their facial expressions to their fingers and their toes. The beautiful choreography was exquisitely performed and created a powerful piece that stayed with the audience long after the curtain closed.


The Boston Globe By Thea Singer
Duets heighten troupe’s ‘Passions’
October 24, 2009

From an emotional standpoint, the night’s two duets - bare to the bone - were the most searing. Helen Pickett’s “Tsukiyo’’ (Moonlit Night) hangs somewhere between a lullaby and a first kiss. The dance is a paean to romantic mystery, each partner sensing the other first through sheer chemistry, later by touch.


Patriot Ledger, by Iris Fanger, October 29, 2009

Helen Pickett’s world premiere, “Tsukiyo,” with music by Arvo Part, one of the most distinctive works to now join the troupe’s repertory…


The Dig By JONATHAN DONALDSON

A highlight of the program is the duet, Tsukiyo ("Moonlit Night"), an original work by choreographer/actor Helen Pickett. "I want people to feel the beauty of possibility," says the choreographer. World Passions promises to be a night of intrigue for star-crossed lovers, embodying, as Pickett herself puts it, "the walk up the stairs that is the best part of the affair."


The New York Times By CLAUDIA LA ROCCO
DANCE REVIEW | ASPEN SANTA FE BALLET
Evening of Adventuresome Premieres
February 19, 2009

Given all the hand wringing about the dire state of contemporary ballet, it is good to be reminded that new work is being made all the time and that much of it is of at least some interest. Genius choreographers might not come around very often; choreographers with potential do.

Helen Pickett is one, judging by “Petal,” which had its New York premiere on Wednesday at the Joyce Theater courtesy of the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. The small company (just 12 dancers) has adventuresome tastes, sampling from a range of choreographic languages. Though sometimes ragged, in both style and endurance, the performers gamely threw themselves into the disparate works with admirable verve.

“Petal” combines a sophisticated sense of spacing with a resonant exploration of emotional discovery. Eddies of social groupings swirl within a stage bounded by large white screens and suffused by Todd Elmer’s gorgeously lush lighting design of Easter-egg yellows, pinks and oranges. A sense of restless female desire pervades the choreography, which sets intimate duets and solos within more formal group patterns, much as pockets of tenderness bloom within the relentless music by Philip Glass and Thomas Montgomery Newman.

There are many styles in play here, including Twyla Tharp’s tough, sexy female athleticism and, most strongly, the aggressively buckling, rippling movement language of William Forsythe, in whose company Ms. Pickett danced for many years. But Ms. Pickett looks to be finding a voice of her own.


The Courier-Journal By Andrew Adler
Louisville Ballet, October 7, 2008

We were introduced to Pickett’s work last season in upon your held-out hand,... Of the three works rolled out on this program, this one is the most likely to land in the “high art” category…sinewy bodies moving through space in unconventional ways, with mere curtain panels for sets, high brow music, and no real story. But that’s probably why I like it so much, and why I also like Balanchine’s leotard ballets…the dancers are truly at the center of the dance. Costuming and lighting were magical, and the dancers did justice to Pickett’s demanding choreography.


Denver Post
By Kyle MacMillan, Fine Arts Critic
November 3, 2008

The program's highlight was Helen Pickett's "Petal" (2008), which inventively explores the intersection of ballet and modern dance.


A catchy American Presence
By Allison Tracy, Special to The Berkshire Eagle
Saturday, August 16

BECKET — "Petal," by rising choreographer Helen Picket, is a delicate, Power-Point show…turning everything inside out with the greatest beauty and elegance.
The pace is swift and dazzling, brilliantly lit, beautifully costumed. Finesse is all.


Aspen Santa Fe Ballet offers delightful program
By Wendy Liberatore, Gazette Reporter
Friday, August 15, 2008

BECKET, Mass. —The program opens strong with Helen Pickett’s bright “Petal.” The men are bees to the female flower, trying to feed off their limbs that trail off in unexpected directions.
Moving to the hum of music by Philip Glass and Thomas Montgomery Newman, the dancers are marvelous in this counter-intuitive dance. The legs and arms are independent from the rolling groins, directing the dancers in unanticipated trajectories…unpredictable and delightful.


The Boston Globe
In varied program, troupe gets its kicks
By Janine Parker Globe Correspondent, August 15, 2008

BECKET - Artistic director Tom Mossbrucker and executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty are committed to presenting contemporary classical dance with an emphasis on commissioning new works. Helen Pickett's "Petal," which premiered in February, solidly affirms the importance of such sponsorship.

The title is apt for such a sunny piece, though fortunately there are hints of mystery and tension among the four couples. For instance, in the partnering, the women are never prettily presented like fragile dolls in need of assistance. When offered, they manage to convey both wariness and a shrugging acceptance, willing to investigate how an extra hand can exploit and heighten their movements. The movement is drawn largely from ballet vocabulary, and Pickett chooses well.


BROAD STREET REVIEW
Ballet X: Female Choreographers
Jim Rutter, July 26, 2008

The choice of music can make all the difference in a dance production (though some choreographers, like Merce Cunningham, might disagree). Helen Pickett hired her brother-in-law, Bernd Sippel, to compose an original piece for her work, Union.

An eerie, haunting series of piano keystrokes repeat through the first movement (before building to a stunning intensity later), mirroring the sense of emergence in the dancing of Keating and Francis Veyette, in which many slow individual movements progress into a very aggressive and controlling lover’s tango…

Unlike the mixed signals couples pass back and forth every weekend on dates, in Union body language became a far more precise form of communication, as Pickett sublimated aggression into seduction and made a stranglehold into a flirtatious gesture…

Stylistically, Pickett’s work stayed more in the ballet tradition than Ochoa’s or Cox’s while still displaying forceful, fast, athletic and occasionally very graceful movements. Her ensembles danced far more explosively and flirtatiously— most noticeably in Wagner’s eyes darting in over-the-shoulder glances. But the last movement, danced by the full ensemble, created moments of distraction that detracted from Pickett’s otherwise visually exciting patterns: As four dancers moved in tandem, another broke off to execute a different movement. Rather than extend the theme of dissonance within harmony that she had established in the first two sections, Pickett distorted it.

Ultimately, the “union” of the title referred more to the synthesis of the music and the choreography than to any aspect of the dancing. When the pace increases, these dancers’ movements quicken, lashing outward in bursts and leaps. The painter Vassily Kandinsky said he heard tones when seeing a color. Pickett’s Union made me see movements.

So why aren’t there more female ballet choreographers? During the post-performance talkback, Pickett’s annoyance at the audience’s repetition of this question struck me as quite telling. “I’ve never thought of myself as a female choreographer,” she said (again and again). “I’m a choreographer.” With that attitude, I’m not surprised that she created the best piece of the evening.


The Hub Review
Thomas Garvey, Saturday, March 8, 2008

Talkin' 'bout their Generation

But the surprise of the evening of the evening was up-and-coming choreographer Helen Pickett. Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen bet big on Pickett, giving her a large contingent of dancers, including his top soloists, and she delivered, with the wonderful Eventide , a strange and wonderful concoction exquisitely poised between (what used to be called) "East" and "West."


The Hub Review
Thomas Garvey, Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Well, perhaps that's a bit unfair. The Globe 's Karen Campbell (once her review finally appeared) did write that the evening's risks "paid off nicely, not just for the art form, but for audiences as well." But alas, she then rated the program precisely backwards, giving the highest marks to the charming chamber piece by Sabrina Matthews, and the lowest grade to the big, thrilling new works from Jorma Elo and Helen Pickett.

There was no question, however, that Helen Pickett had opened her own department with Eventide , a big, broad, brilliant work (with the fiercely sinuous John Lam, above) that marked a huge step up from the accomplished Etesian . This time around, Pickett conjured a kind of globalized divertissement backed by an Indian-inspired (that's dot, not feather) soundtrack from Michael Nyman, Jan Garbarek and Philip Glass. The results played like Tchaikovsky-gone-Bollywood, or something the Sleeping Beauty might have watched before marrying Merce Cunningham in Bangalore. The results were also, I might add, dazzling; Pickett's control of space and scale were superb, and her variations simultaneously highly formal, lightly erotic, and slightly bemused. True, the piece awkwardly changed gears, and lost a bit of focus, in its duet-heavy middle section, but nevertheless regathered its energy for a truly stunning finale before a glittering chunk of Abstract Expressionism (neatly pulling one more avant-garde strand into the mix). My final impression was of a dance smartly poised between a dozen or more influences, schools and ideas, with a sense of the history behind each.


THEATRICS
Boston Ballet's 'Next Generation'
MARCIA B. SIEGEL The Phoenix, March 12, 2008

Helen Pickett kneaded the classical line into sinuous curves and sexy seductions in Eventid e, a formal dance for five women, five men, and a female ensemble of 10. Three musical selections by contemporary composers (Michael Nyman, Jan Garbarek, and Philip Glass) drew on Indian and Indonesian sounds as well as the driving pulse of post-minimalism.

Eventide began in some hermetic, exotic locale, perhaps a harem, with an electric guitar rummaging through ideas you might hear on an Indian sitar, extravagant red swags hanging at the sides, and a line of women along the edge of the stage. Wearing little besides panels of silvery fabric, the women face away from the audience to where Kathleen Breen Combes seems to be getting ready to entertain a male suitor. I wasn't sure whom she danced with, but as soon as the first man left, the other four appeared ceremoniously. The ballet continued as an extended exposition of its resources and hierarchies.

The principal men and women dance alone and in combinations that get remixed before you grow too attached to them. The corps women reassemble prettily around them. The setting changes twice -- the red drapes disappear and the background goes black, then a large busy abstract painting drops down.

By the time Glass's music starts to play ( Meetings along the Edge , a rewrite of the last part of Glass's score for Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room , with a pseudo-Bach line running over the top of it), the dancer forces begin collecting into a quite conventional ballet wind-up. I never did decide where or when all this was supposed to be taking place. Fortunately, I guess, the audience wasn't let in on Pickett's baffling list of sources, which included Edward Hopper and e.e. cummings.


NEW YORK TIMES
Jennifer Dunning, September 6, 2007

Megan Wiiliams nearly stole the show with the stunningly honed physicality of her dancing in Helen Pickett's new "One Captured Kiss."


ARTS JOURNAL New York
Lori Ortiz, September 13, 2007

Helen Pickett's impressive "One Captured Kiss" is performed b Megan Williams to Tom Waits. Aside from Pickett's engaging choreography, William' body is articulated from head to toe. With little drama, her concise dance touches us directly, like Waits.


THE COURIER-JOURNAL Louisville, Kentucky
November 3, 2007
By Andrew Adler

upon your held-put hand "...a significant choreographer in the United States, Pickett displays a keen sense of how to leverage a dancer's complete resources...her ideas spill out in such eager velocity."


Dance Magazine
25 to Watch
Theodore Bale, January 2007 Issue

When Helen Pickett isn't in the studio working on a new ballet, she's reading about mirror neurons and sense perceptions, or philosopher Immanuel Kant. Her approach to choreography focuses on working with one's own sensory information to explore the infinite possibilities of human movement. Pickett's style often includes improvisation. Her Etesian, which premiered last year at Boston Ballet, merged formal classical technique with wild distortions of classical movement--a dancer in arabesque might continue to pull the hip further and further off balance until an entirely new shape emerges.

After more than a decade with Ballett Frankfurt under William Forsythe, Pickett returned to the U.S. to teach workshops based on his improvisation methods, kinesiology, Brain Gym (a system that uses movement to strengthen the brain's neural pathways) and traditional Chinese medicine. Last year she created Amaranthine for The Sacramento Ballet and Trio in White for The Washington Ballet, both set to Beethoven's piano music. This year, in addition to choreographing for Boston Ballet and guesting with The Royal Ballet of Flanders, she will star in a European film by Laura Elena Cordero. "My character is a former dancer who lives and choreographs in Prague," says Pickett, "so I don't have to pretend much!"


POINTE Magazine
Jim Carnes, September 2006

"Sacramento Ballet ended the 2005-06 season with another installment of Modern Masters, a series of new works by what company Co-Artistic Director Ron Cunningham calls "the next generation of master choreographers."
...The program ended with Helen Pickett's Amaranthine, to selected movements from three Beethoven piano sonatas. Pickett danced with William Forsythe's Ballett Frankfurt and recently completed a major commission for Boston Ballet. Like the flower that never fades and gives the dance its title, Amaranthine was a classic and timeless piece celebrating the beauty of the human body and its movement. The work emphasized extension - arms and legs were outstretched repeatedly - and a high degree of pointe work. Despite the complexity of its leaps and spins and lifts, it was simply beautiful."



THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Ballet's '7 x 7' a lucky number for women
Jean Battey Lewis, June 12, 2006

This current "7 x 7," as good if not better as The Washington Ballet's past "7 x 7s," makes a case that women's recognition as choreographers is long overdue.
Miss Jimenez, the lone woman in "Trio in White," gave a compelling, beautifully seamless performance in the high-energy role. At the work's premiere Thursday evening she was supported with equal intensity by Jonathan Jordan and Jared Nelson.
"Trio," to a Beethoven score, was by Helen Pickett whose breathless, demanding moves reflected her years dancing in Germany to William Forsythe's starkly modern choreography.



Danceviewtimes
Ballet is Woman - Take Two 7x7: Women
The Washington Ballet
Lisa Traiger, Thursday, June 8, 2006

"Trio in White," by Helen Pickett, is ballerina Michelle Jimenez's final performance with the company before she heads off in late August for the Dutch National Ballet. The lone woman, flanked by Jonathan Jordan and Jared Nelson, Jimenez found expressive depth in Pickett's steel-girded shapes, flexed joints and forced arches. Jordan and Nelson maneuvered and manipulated their foil, but this ballet was about woman, and woman's power, evident in the way Jimenez would implant her pointe shoe sturdily in the floor or insinuate her torso into a sensuous S-curve before her leg arose into a dagger-like glint above her shoulder. Pickett's choreography finds similarities with that of William Forsythe, for whom she danced, but also, as well with Balanchine, particularly in the trio configuration. The white of the title, by the way, referred not to the sleek burgundy practice attire, but to the studio's clean, white décor


Sizing Up 7x7: Another Fine Fit
Special to The Washington Post
Alexandra Tomalonis, Saturday, June 10, 2006

Jimenez's beautiful lines and sweet intensity were shown to advantage in Pickett's "Trio in White."


Boston Herald, DANCE REVIEW; `Grand' start falters
Theodore Bale, March 17, 2006

The world premiere of Helen Pickett's "Etesian" opened the show on an elegant and introspective note. When one sees a detailed solo phrase as long and varied as the opening melody of Bach's "Goldberg Variations," it's evident the choreographer is full of innovation. Sudden unison phrases interrupt duets and improvisations, music from Bach and Beethoven drifts in and out, and the result is both emphatic and ethereal. What’s more important than in the finished dance is the process Pickett used to generate it, which represents a worthy development of William Forsythe’s improvisational strategies. This choreographer relies more on thorough investigation than inspiration, and it will be exciting to see what she does next.



Danse Europe, May 2006
Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz views a Grand Slam in Boston

The evening opened with Etesian, a premiere by Helen Pickett, the multi-tasking (she’s also a teacher and actress) alumna of San Francisco Ballet. The ballet began and ended in silence, with a lone woman on stage. As the silence alternated with bits of Bach and Beethoven, four men and four women moved in and out of solos and groups. Costumes by Charles Heightchew and Pickett were both modern and romantic, with the women in bare legs and sea-foam-colored leotards with simple, gauzy tops. The décor (tow wide ribbons of luminescent fabric hung vertically from flies to stage floor) and lighting by Karim Badwan created an almost underwater mood onstage. Ballet –based choreography, with women in pointe shoes and lots of big ronds de jambe, was cut with small, tight movements. The piece was danced fully by all. As she is jut beginning to choreograph for ballet companies (she has upcoming engagements with Washington Ballet and Sacramento Ballet), Pickett is certainly one to watch.


INNEWSWEEKLY
Alan Helms, March 21, 2006

First up was the world premiere of “Etesian” by Helen Pickett, a protégé of William Forsythe whose choreography is mercifully more audience-friendly than his. Kathleen Breene Combes began the piece dancing silently in movements alternately balletic and loopy, as if parts of her body were behaving independently. As the piece progressed, the dancers kept shoving their knees out of the way or pushing their chins back into position. You’d think such eccentric movements would war with those of classical ballet, but Pickett wed them seamlessly into a piece whose overall feel was beautifully lyrical. This is Pickett’s first commission, yet she’s already an impressive artist.