The Blue Train proved to be the perfect personality piece for Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet, bringing out the playful side of the company as the dancers frolic and tease in their expansive portrayal of wealthy French vacationers.
The obscure 1924 ballet uses the favorite sports of the wealthy – tennis, swimming and golf – to parody their social interactions. Set in a Mediterranean resort, it was created for the Ballets Russes by Bronislava Nijinska and a star design team that boasted Coco Chanel and Pablo Picasso.
When the lights came on for the first of two performances Saturday at the Dallas Museum of Art, the colorfully costumed dancers were arrayed around the Horchow Auditorium stage in staring poses, including David Sanders, shirtless and in bathing suit, already off his feet in a handstand.
Cast as acrobat Handsome Youth, Sanders was joined by three other leads: Lea Zablocki as swimmer Perlouse, Katie Stasse as tennis champion and Javier Hernandez as golfer. With a supporting cast of 11 swimmers and beach models in polka dots and prints, they humorously acted out the jabs and swings of sporting life.
Much of the early action revolved around the Handsome Youth as the women swooned over his gymnastic skills, which included cartwheels and hands-free flips. At one point, a dancer hung on each of Sanders’ flexed biceps. He also hit the side of his head as if trying to squeeze water out of his ears.
Group sections alternated with solos and duets for the conductors. In hers, Stasse wielded a wooden racquet as she performed small leaps, kicks and leaps and leaned forward on pointe, as if ready for her opponent to serve. Sanders joined her, kissing her hand and lifting it onto his shoulder.
The duet between Zablocki and Hernandez was a little fiercer as she initially rejected his advances before eventually jumping into his arms. Throughout the piece, the dancers were smiling broadly, hiding the bratty and competitive nature of their characters.
less than 30 minutes, The Blue Train is short and to the point, giving us insight into how the 1% lives and thinks. Or at least what we think of them.
Manuel Mendoza is a freelance writer from Dallas.