A big, beautiful tree hangs upside down. Most of the rest of the stage is dark, hiding we don’t know what. The dancers’ job as laid before them by Czech contemporary dance choreographer Jiri Kylian: to defy gravity. Brigitte Martin, stager for Wings of Wax, which will be one of three pieces in the Houston Ballet’s Winter Mixed Repertory, knows the dancing inside and out.
“I was in the original cast; it was the year I stopped dancing.” Dancers disappear into the dark from time to time, but they never really leave the stage, she says.
This version of the story of Icarus, he who flew too close to the sun while wearing wings constructed by his craftsman father, Daedalus, says that “maybe you burn yourself, but maybe you should try,” Martin says.
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Kylian encouraged give and take with his dancers, she says. He was looking for something fast, with energy and speed, she says. Her instructions to dancers: “You want to move big and loose at the same time. And to almost a little bit forget perfection.”
Martin says she enjoys working with dancers as well. The challenge, she tells them, "is finding the weight, daring to go down into the ground."
Houston Ballet is introducing two other acclaimed pieces into its repertory with this event: Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929, featuring Steve Reich's Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet, and a ballet set to the music of West Side Story.
Performances are scheduled March 10-20 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. For information, visit houstonballet.org or call 713-227-2787. $20- $168.