La Vie en Rose, a collaboration between the In Series and the Washington Ballet Studio Company, is an intriguing production: ballet dancers interpret famous French songs in subdued black and white costumes in front of French street lights and newspaper clippings.
The In Series’ vision is reimaging classics and blending art forms, but La Vie en Rose does the opposite: Content to bask in a mere display of “culture,” this fusion of ballet and voice seems stuck on itself.
The choreography and staging by Septime Webre and David Palmer are generally on point and the dancers show great promise. Pianists Frank Conlon and Carla Hübner perform with sensitivity and strength despite limitations – GALA Hispanic Theatre is too small for a production of this scope. The piano doesn’t begin to muffle the movement of the dancers.
Despite poor execution of a fantastic idea, several performances make La Vie en Rose worthwhile: Fleta Hylton, the most engaging actress of the group, is amazing – her rendition of “Mon Dieu” (sung by Édith Piaf) is exposed, raw, and beautiful. Choreographer Septime Webre surrounds Hylton with dancers in a refreshing moment of unity between voice and dance.
CarrieAnne Winter’s floating high notes are radiant in Debussy’s “Musique” and Andrew Adelsberger gives a moving performance of Duparc’s “Le Manoir de Rosemonde.” Adrienne Starr sings Debussy’s “Green” to great effect.
Sublime tenor Byron Jones conveys subtle passion in “Ne me Quitte Pas,” the highlight of the evening. Daniel Savetta and Esmiana Jani move with impeccable grace and intimacy. Ariel Breitman is a standout among the dancers with amazing charm and endurance. The fresh take on Debussy’s setting of Verlaine’s poem “Fantoches” is also entertaining.
Artistic Director and Founder Carla Hübner wanted “an opportunity to hear art songs away from its niche of ‘only for connoisseurs.’” Perhaps there was a “disconnect?” Blending two of the world’s least accessible art forms requires a clear, cutting edge vision, but La Vie en Rose is too muddy to make much of an impact.
La Vie en Rose was produced by In Series at GALA Hispanic Theatre . Reviewed by Rebecca Evans.