By Martha Ullman West
Last night I returned to Keller Auditorium because I wanted to see again Nicolo Fonte’s highly detailed urban rendering of Petrouchka, and to see Haiyan Wu dance Micaela in Carmen. I’m very glad I did.
Apparently, for some readers, I failed to convey in my original review for The Oregonian that I loved Fonte’s re-imagining of Fokine’s ballet when I saw it the first time on opening night. I’m pleased to report that after a second viewing, I’m even more impressed by the way it reflects 21st century concerns, in the same way that the original imparts the zeitgeist of early 20th century Russia.
One hundred years ago, when the ballet premiered, Russia was between revolutions, culturally part European and part Asian, and Stravinsky and his collaborators were searching for a national identity. That Petrouchka was all about engagement and its dangers. Fonte’s, with its faceless corps de ballet and the title character’s search for an identity, seems to me to be about the perils of disengagement.