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Vail Dance Festival Vol. 1 No. 3 - Red Angels

Updated: Apr 5

Wendy Whelan and Peter Boal in Ulysses Dove's Red Angels. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Ulysses Dove's ballet "Red Angels" had its premiere at NYCB in 1994. The next day, Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times proclaimed that it "brought the house down" and that "Mr. Dove [took] the audience into a different world, alienated but hot with sublimated passion."


This energy-charged ballet is set to Einhorn's electric violin solo "Maxwell's Demon" and featured 4 dancers: Peter Boal, Albert Evans, Darci Kistler, and Wendy Whelan.


In a 2020 interview for City Ballet the Podcast, Boal described the atmosphere of Red Angels as a sort of purgatory: “Images of angels in fantastic accelerated flight, but also this dramatic pull of gravity that would just suck the beings into the center of the earth. We lived between the two gravity fields; one heaven, and the other, hellish."


Fun fact: Mary Rowell, the violinist who performed the music for the 1994 premiere will be playing for us in Vail!


 

The music that accompanies "Red Angels" is Einhorn's solo for electric violin titled "Maxwell's Demon." In a podcast episode listed below, violinist Mary Rowell explains her understanding of the concept: "Maxwell's demon is a physics thought experiment in thermodynamics. It has to do with the image of a box that has a wall between the two sides. One side has all these molecules, and this little demon, is standing at a little door and occasionally he opens the door and one of the molecules goes through the door into the other side. Eventually, when the fastest molecules go to the other side, the heat level changes from one side to the other. So instead of both sides being hot, one side is hot and one side is cold."

Heléne Alexopoulos & Albert Evans. Photo by Paul Kolnik

If you've seen "Red Angels" can you see how this concept plays out on stage? Each dancer seems to be a red-hot molecule barreling through the doorway from one side to the other.


I cannot recommend this highly enough: Go listen to City Ballet The Podcast Episode 31.1 "Hear the Dance: Red Angels (Part 1)” for an in-depth conversation about this ballet.






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