Maria Kochetkova brings her new found artistic freedom to the Joyce Theater this week until Sunday, staring in Maria Kochetkova Catch Her If You Can with four of her friends: Carlo Di Lanno, Drew Jacoby, Sebastian Kloborg, and Sofiane Sylve. The production is a worthy effort showing off a different side of Maria as she expands her artistic boundaries.
Maria left San Francisco Ballet in May to become a freelance dancer. Maria was a Principal Dancer at SFB from 2007 and at American Ballet Theatre from 2015 to 2017. According to Candice Thompson of Dance Magazine, Maria left the security of a dance company to tackle new contemporary work in addition to performing more traditional roles globally. She has not been short of work as she claims to be as busy as when she danced at SFB and ABT. She moved out of her California apartment and lives out a suitcase tackling classical roles with Norwegian National Ballet, Staatsballett, and English National Ballet. An added benefit is her performances in Europe put her closer to her mom and two grandparents
The program consisted of eight short works uneven in choreographic quality. A common theme is that I enjoyed the duets but found the solo works forgettable. Check out photos from the Tuesday dress rehearsal along with curtain call photos of Maria during her ABT days on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com.
My favorite works were with Maria paired with Sebastian Kloborg, a tall, sleek former Principal Dancer at The Royal Danish Ballet who left in 2016 to pursue a career as a choreographer and, like Maria, a freelance artist. The two are work well together, although they are mismatched in terms of size. Maria is a diminutive 5 feet tall, about a head shorter than Sebastian while on pointe. Despite the height disparity, they were moving in William Forsythe’s Bach Duet and David Dawson’s At the End of the Day, both contemporary ballet works performed with great flow and energy. Dawson’s White Swan Pas de Deux with Carlo Di Lanno and former New York City Ballet and current SFB Principal Dancer Sofiane Sylve was also pleasing. The work is not in the classical Petipa mode, but a more contemporary rendering. Gone are the big lifts and ballet competition turns, replaced by more subtle steps. An enjoyable piece with much nuance.
The solo works fell short of the duets and were largely forgettable. Myles Thatcher’s Painting Greys danced by SFB’s Carlo Di Lanna, Marcos Morau’s Degunino danced by Maria, and Marco Goecke’s Tué with Drew Jacoby missed the mark. The most interesting solo of the evening did not feature dancing. Masha Machine (Masha is Maria’s nickname) featured an extended smartphone text exchange on a big screen between her and choreographer of the work Jérôme Bel. The texts are wide ranging, covering Maria’s training at a young age at the Bolshoi and how she was forced to leave, her departure from SFB and her desire to strike out on her own, clips from her Giselle solos, her desire to direct a company, and deep innermost thoughts on death. After pondering what her funeral will be like, Maria comes out in ballet practice attire to a dimly lit stage. Miked up, she talked about various topics, but was difficult to hear. I did pick up a short discussion on dancing as Giselle, a spirit of a girl who died of a broken heart. Much of the work consists of Maria hitting various poses. The abrupt end was odd.