"Beve! Beve!" Iago urges on Otello's faithful but weak-stomached captain to
drink up and create a credible plot for the rest of the opera.
Kurt Erickson, a young but already much-published San Francisco composer, is
a great fan of Verdi's drinking song, so when Lawrence Pech asked him to
provide music for a ballet about tourists stranded in a Moroccan desert (I
am just reporting the facts here), Erickson took the melody, slowed it down
and jazzed it up. Whoa! It sounds great and perfect for dance. And it
squares well with Pech's day job as resident choreographer and ballet master
for the SF Opera.
But why would I reveal such a dastardly exploitation of an opera classic?
Because Erickson himself told the story, adding with admirable directness:
"If you want to know where music comes from, sometimes we just steal it."
The occasion was a novel, fascinating event tonight, in the Yerba Buena
Center. The Lawrence Pech Dance Company held a behind-the-scenes preview of
its fall season, performing excerpts from works that are still far from
ready. Who would come and pay for such inside look at
contemporary-dance-becoming? In San Francisco, a full house at the Forum
did ~V and they had a grand time, listening to choreographers and watching
That Moroccan thing will be a 40-minute story ballet by November, titled
"Angels: Fallen and Otherwise."
Another work under construction, still without a title, is by Val
Caniparoli, one of the most "music-oriented" choreographers, who has set
major dance pieces to Stravinsky, Britten, Martinu, P?rt, Corelli, Bach and
African tribal music, Rota, Fitkin, and many others. This time, Caniparoli
is stretching dance's musical horizons again by going to compositions and
arrangements by Juan Garcia Esquivel, who died earlier this year.
What we saw tonight from a work barely begun was hilarious and exciting.
Esquivel, Caniparoli said, was "Mexico's Duke Ellington," the last of the
big-band leaders/arrangers, and composer of "Bachelor Pad Space-Age Music,"
tinged with cocktail lounge and ballroom overtones.
Add to those two upcoming works Julia Adam's new pas de trois, "The Medium
Is the Message," and the Lawrence Pech Dance Company will be an important
stop on the local dance scene in November.
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