“Bolero + Billie” Pleases Holiday Crowds

NW Dance Project’s Bolero + Billie shows DEC 7-9, 2017 at Lincoln Performance Hall brought smiles to the crowds and received their nightly standing ovations. In her debut review for Oregon Arts Watch, Elizabeth Whelan notes, “The evening was a two-part show: the first act, Billie, premiering a brand new work created in collaboration by six of the company’s dancers, was followed by a return to resident choreographer Ihsan Rustem’s contemporary, humor-ridden take on Ravel’s classic, Bolero. …this openness to creative exploration without limiting the source to one person that sets the company apart…The humor of the piece is timely and tasteful, leaving the audience laughing in both nostalgia and familiarity that some things never change…With such smooth transitions and seamless floorwork juxtaposing the upright partners, the audience almost doesn’t realize that this last scene is one final opportunity to share a laugh over the quirky, charming homage to Billie for the Holiday. Following intermission, the second act wasn’t short on humor, either. (Ihsan Rustem’s) Bolero was the product of the daunting task to give comedy a try. To say it is a success is an understatement. The dancers take to Rustem’s movement with skill and a well-rehearsed certainty. Drawing seemingly endless circles around themselves with every body part and in every direction possible, the dance showcases their highly technical capabilities while nailing the inventive nature of Rustem’s vision. This spherical and fluid movement is bracketed by creative linear spacing that adds a geometric alignment to the work. This play between providing entertainment without a conclusive, overarching theme is what makes Rustem’s Bolero a hit. He crafts his work with just enough mystery to keep you coming back for more while including the perfect dose of organically creative comedy and incredible feats of strength and endurance to keep you satisfied and impressed.