With classical ballet such a bastion of control, balance and harmony, it's no wonder fans want to see the aristocratic art form break open its confining corset and release the energy within. Hence, we have had Bad Boys of Ballet (Rasta Thomas' company) and "Born to Be Wild," a video project featuring male stars of American Ballet Theatre.
Texture Contemporary Ballet opted for "Nearly Wild" at the New Hazlett Theater this past weekend, which was mostly restricted to the opening and closing numbers.
Based on the life cycle of the cicada, James Barrett's "Brood" had a concise vocabulary full of insectile imagery that also resembled poultry -- chests protruding with wing-like arms, darting poses and, at its best, a brisk pecking type of movement.
"Broken Flow," the final piece, harbored the "wild" image of rap, here defined by Kid Cudi's first "Man on the Moon" concept album.
The reworked 2011 piece dripped with attitude as the 13 dancers slowly paced the floor or hung out in the shadows of the space. Choreographed by Kelsey Bartman and Alan Obuzor, "Broken Flow" took on a concept of its own by alternating hip-hop and funk with a freewheeling ballet style.
Although the work had some terrific moments, it could have gone further. Instead of a swarm of familiar hip-hop moves, the choreographic duo could have expanded certain elements, like the idea of turning out and turning in or grounding versus uplifting to create a more distinctive vocabulary. And why not attach "Broken Flow" to the Gen-Yers who are hampered and disillusioned by the economy -- maybe a little rocker anger would have added a bite to the brew.
The two choreographers fared better with "Ding," a trio inspired by rehearsal mistakes. The title was the word the dancers would verbalize, accompanied by a gentle touch. It was all translated into individual movement segues between Ms. Bartman, Mr. Obuzor and Alexandra Tiso that had mesmerizing sculptural flow.
While Mr. Obuzor brought only "Home," one of his attractive organic duets that could have benefited from a more palpable connection with Temple Kemezis, Ms. Bartman produced her own trio of works.
"Greener," a pretty duet for Brynn Vogel and Kay Whitney, toyed with being true to oneself, and "Stills From Italy," with its "Eat, Pray, Love" link, also drew from Indian yogic postures and a Balinese freedom that needed more connective tissue.
Her new solo, "The Rose," set to a pleasing score by Blake Ragghianti, featured Ms. Bartman at her loveliest, although depicting the flower and its singular romantic meanings could have been more compelling with an impressionistic approach.
The surprise on "Nearly Wild" was Oscar Carrillo, a junior from Point Park University. He turned inward with impressive results in "Amargo." Meaning "Bitter," it dealt with depression but used a fine balance of structure and a fresh imagination (loved the disintegrating leap) to create its own exotic world.
So the dancers became alien, not as in outer space, but as if displaying an inner dysfunctional landscape that gave "Amargo" a dark yet poetic beauty in its intensity.