Critical Dance, , May 9, 2016
By Heather Desaulniers
“Dance Series Two” concluded with the premiere of Pickett’s much-anticipated Oasis, original score by Jeff Beal. Oasis starts with a musical entr’acte of sorts; a whimsical melody that felt bright and free. As the lights came up, wave-like structures comprised of flexible strands (design by Emma Kingsbury) hung from the rafters and water bubbles were projected onto them. All these collaborative elements set an impeccable framework for the ballet that would develop in the next thirty minutes, a dance of true splendor. Everything about Pickett’s Oasis was full – full cast, full throttle performances, full conceptual exploration through mesmerizing choreography. Coming from upstage, the dancers broke through the ‘curtains’, arms billowing, feet striking the ground in piqué, like droplets in a pool; legs kicked into the space, imaginary water being flicked off their toes. The ensemble (which the program says was sixteen dancers but I only counted fourteen) rushed the stage in a mystical, intoxicating sequence, almost like they were casting a spell. Packed with long extensions, a sensual duet for Felsch and Krukow fed into a flirty ballroom waltz – couples cleverly darting in and out of the wings. Moore and Terez Dean offered another tactile duet of longing and impulse. Small movements would ripple through and affect the entire body, as with water. A tiny circle of the leg would evolve into a huge rond de jambe; pas de chevals grew into full extensions. And these were just a few of the standout moments from Oasis. I believe this the second full-length piece of Pickett’s that Smuin Ballet has added to their repertoire, Petal being the first. Both are phenomenal works that marry traditional and contemporary ballet with ingenuity and gumption.
An Interview with Choreographer Helen Pickett
By Leslie Irwin | October 26th, 2015