Dance Theatre Of Harlem Presents BALAMOUK Review — Celebration Of Life

Dance Theatre of Harlem BALAMOUK
Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy of Jacobs Pillow

A woman in a red dress stands alone in the spotlight. There is a shift in the music as five men lift her up and carry her across the stage, as she points to the far off distance. Just moments ago, an ensemble of dancers moved together with jubilance and freedom — a celebration appropriately accompanied by an upbeat rhythm. But now, the choreography and music slow down as the audience focuses solely on the movement. It is this stark contrast in the atmosphere and choreography that draws us in. 

The five male dancers and the woman in the red dress move seamlessly together. Each of the lifts is connected and drawn out. The movements are strong and powerful in their subtlety. We notice the small shifts in the heads and the eyes. There is purpose in each and every position and formation that Balamouk takes us through. 

The performance is a series of various journeys. Some are fun and light-hearted, some are dramatic tales and full of intrigue, and some are wild and rebellious. Reminiscent of the up and downs of life, Balamouk is a celebration of the human experience. 

Dance Theatre of Harlem BALAMOUK
Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy of Jacobs Pillow

Dance Theatre Of Harlem Bursts With Energy

The group formations are constantly in motion while having moments where individual dancers take the spotlight. For most of the performance, the dancers are smiling and look like they are having a party on the stage. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s choreography shines when the entire company dances together, in this writer’s view.  The music and costumes further emphasize this feeling. Various vibrant hues of red, orange, and green costumes are free-flowing and feel youthful just as the choreography is. While there is ballet technique and pointe work throughout, the piece is still very contemporary — pushing the boundaries of a traditional ballet performance.

Dance Theatre of Harlem BALAMOUK
Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy of Jacobs Pillow

The entire performance keeps us wondering what will come next. It is a piece that is constantly in motion and uses the stage to its entirety. If you look away for one moment, you will miss a beautiful lift or formation. 

Balamouk is perfect for anyone who wants to see a performance with an abundance of joy and energy. This piece is one that will definitely lift the spirits. 

Dance Theatre of Harlem BALAMOUK
photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy of Jacobs Pillow
Dance Theatre Of Harlem BALAMOUK
Photo by Christopher Duggan courtesy of Jacobs-Pillow



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Annabelle Lopez Ochoa

Les Yeux Noirs, Lisa Gerrard, René Aubry 

Costume Design: 
Mark Zappone 

Lighting Design:
Les Dickert 

Ingrid Silva
Crystal Serrano 
Amanda Amith 
Stephanie Rae Williams 
Lindsey Donnel
Dustin James 
Dylan Santos
Anthony Santos
Christopher Charles McDaniel 
Choong Hoon Lee


This performance is now over but for more information on other upcoming streamed performances available on YouTube or other Internet site please visit the Dance Theatre of Harlem website

Photos by Paula Lobo unless otherwise indicated.

Sabrina Lee
Sabrina Lee

About the Author: Sabrina Lee

Sabrina Lee is a sophomore at Hofstra University pursuing a B.A. in Journalism. Raised in Orange County, California, she has been a gymnast, dancer, and coach. In her free time, she loves watching movies, eating Korean food, and practicing her poker skills. Sabrina's favorite place to be is in the audience of a Broadway show.

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