Theater Review: Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo in ‘Ch?ri’ at the Signature

December 9th, 2013

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Ch?ri Sexual and psychological rapture: Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo in the premiere of Martha Clarke’s operate at the Pershing Square Signature Theater.

The rapture of sexual love and the disorienting soreness of parting are seen as by means of frosted glass in “Ch?ri,” a drastically muted but gorgeously danced new work from the choreographer Martha Clarke, based mostly on the titular novella by Colette.

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Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Tensions in excess of a son: Alessandra Ferri, left, and Amy Irving in “Ch?ri,” Martha Clarke’s new perform at the Signature Theater.

The entrancingly luminous dancing was to be anticipated. “Ch?ri” stars the excellent ballerina Alessandra Ferri, who formally untied her toe footwear some several years in the past but has not entirely abandoned the stage. Transferring with the gorgeous fluidity of silk rippling in a breeze, she portrays a Parisian female embroiled in a passionate affair with a male roughly half her age in Ms. Clarke’s most current hybrid of dance and theater, which opened on Sunday night at the Pershing Sq. Signature Center. Playing the impetuous lover who abandons Ms. Ferri’s character to contract a suited marriage is Herman Cornejo, a principal dancer at American Ballet Theater and an additional enormously gifted performer.

For dance aficionados, “Ch?ri” gives an irresistible likelihood to come across beloved performers in a new context and to view their artistry with a new intimacy. Mr. Cornejo and Ms. Ferri never danced together for the duration of their couple of overlapping years at American Ballet Theater, but equally are expressive dancers who can express nuances of sensation via refined gestures, a expertise not constantly cultivated (or needed) in classical ballet.

“Ch?ri,” conceived, choreographed and directed by Ms. Clarke, is not fully wordless. Amy Irving portrays a 3rd character, Charlotte, the mother of Mr. Cornejo’s character, the “dear” (ch?ri) of the title, who is considerably less than delighted when her son’s infatuation with Ms. Ferri’s Lea, Charlotte’s greatest friend, turns into a steady romance rather than a youthful indulgence.

“Still in every single other’s arms soon after all these a long time,” she muses in the initial of four limited monologues (tailored from the ebook and its sequel, “The Last of Ch?ri,” by the playwright Tina Howe). “Was he my reward to her? Or did she just take him from me? Who understands? These things happen,” she concludes, with a shrug. Intermittently Ms. Irving’s Charlotte returns to update us on the progress of the romance. She succeeds in prying Ch?ri from Lea’s arms so that he can profitably wed, but the sexual and psychological rapture the enthusiasts shared continues to be an ineluctable drive, drawing them together even when their hearts or heads inform them to transfer on.

This passion is expressed totally in dance, in a series of pas de deux and solos that chart the development of their love. Initial, there is the sweet, hazy morning right after, as Lea and Ch?ri rise from a sloppy mattress and playfully flit around the place, investing a long string of pearls that the vain young Ch?ri has snatched from his lover. After the information of Ch?ri’s marriage has been introduced, a coolness transforms their effortless intimacy into one thing far more difficult: Lea gracefully sheds the youthful abandon that her youthful lover experienced awakened in her and have to be coaxed back into an psychological rapport that, even so, finishes with a recommendation that their affair has run its system. Following Ch?ri has left her, Ms. Ferri’s Lea releases the unhappiness she held in verify in his existence, in a solo that finds her tossing herself about the walls and onto the floor in a heedless in shape of despair.

Ms. Clarke, whose prior dance-theater operates consist of “The Garden of Earthly Delights” and “Vienna: Lusthaus,” has choreographed for ballet companies and surely shows a competent proficiency at fitting classical (or classically based) steps to tunes. The properly-selected songs for “Ch?ri” contains piano pieces by Ravel, Debussy and Poulenc, amid other interval-acceptable composers, alongside with numerous selections from the lesser-identified Spanish composer Federico Mompou the audio is elegantly played onstage by Sarah Rothenberg.

But that tempestuous solo for Ms. Ferri marks 1 of numerous passages in “Ch?ri” in which Ms. Clarke’s choreography comes across as generic or trite. Mr. Cornejo’s character later has his personal woe-sodden solo, which employs nearly the same vocabulary: he, way too, finishes up rolling close to on the floor in an excessive of despair. The duets that kind the heart of “Ch?ri” at times suffer from a related reliance on the obvious: to convey passion, the fans enclose each and every other in a devouring embrace or move by means of swirling, informal waltzes. Ms. Ferri’s Lea is regularly borne aloft in a sequence of lifts expressing the heady highs of sexual rapture. (The good friend I observed the demonstrate with, a veteran of the ballet world, expressed my reservations about the choreography when he observed that “Ch?ri” felt like an endlessly elongated pas de deux from a single of Kenneth MacMillan’s ballets this was not supposed as a compliment.)

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