Minnesota Star Tribune
MDT makes captivating work out of a novella by Dostoevski
By Camille LaFevre
The best thing about the Minnesota Dance Theater’s fall program is “The Gambler,” choreographed by Scott Rink, a former principal with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, this new work for six performers is a delightful, captivating dance illustration of a 1950’s radio broadcast of Dostoevski’s novella.
The radio performance, with its fast-paced, melodramatic telling of the dark story of need and greed, is amusing by itself. But Rink’s precisely crafted choreography, deftly performed by the dancers, adds an ingenious layer of storytelling. And the period costumes – long skirts and blouson tops for the women, turn-of-the-century suits for the men – enhance the effect.
As imaginary characters gather round a spinning roulette wheel, the dancers form a circle, watching each other warily. An argument between the protagonist, Alexey (Stephane Andre), and the Englishman (Reed Kelly), is full of illustrative pokes and slaps. During a later conversation, these two tumble over each other like their words.
During foreboding music, the dancers swirl around the stage in black capes. Kelly Greene plays the vain, scheming Polina with haughty elegance. The power-hungry General (Abdo Sayegh) is reduced to groveling.
But Sara Kaprov steals the show as crotchety Granny. Dressed in black, she enters the fray literally “alive and kicking,” Polina cowering before her. As her radio counterpart orders the others to carry her somewhere “in her chair,” she’s hoisted onto their onto their shoulders. With fingers twisted and back curved, she vanquishes the money-grubbing relatives before losing her savings in frenetic turns at the roulette wheel.
In this marvelously inventive work, timing, gesture and expression are expertly achieved – a credit not only to Rink’s choreographic imagination, but also to MDT’s wonderfully nuanced dancing. The rest of the program pales in comparison.