Review: Ballet Preljocaj transcendental, transcendent at Rialto

They move so you don’t have to


Early Sunday evening at the Rialto Theater in downtown Atlanta, four members of France’s Ballet Preljocaj danced to an unusual recording: John Cage’s Empty Words, in which the composer reads incomprehensible, random syllables from the work of Henry David Thoreau to an angry audience that demonstrates their mounting disapproval with shouted catcalls, hissing, and sarcastic applause, all captured and recorded as part of the piece.

From the opening move, it was clear the dancers’ performance of Empty Moves would be a stunner. The company walked on stage, bowed to each other, and as the recording started, a female dancer bent at the waist and extended one leg behind her: the technical facility was impressive—the female dancer’s lovely, elongated form, her extended leg perfectly still and parallel to the ground—but the dreamlike effortlessness of it was heart-stopping. Even subsequent movements as simple as the dancers taking synchronous wide steps that turned into lunges were rendered transcendently gorgeous by their technical prowess and concentration. If it were possible to dine on movement, I would have.