There's sex, jealousy, a wild bar scene - and murder. The dancers smoke on stage, clap rhythmically, snap their fingers to the music, even chant. They wear bright costumes, wigs, and black pointe shoes. The scene changes five times, with many lively corps de ballet dances and a long, seductive pas de deux.
All this in about 45 minutes.
Pennsylvania Ballet opened its season Thursday night with the company premiere of French choreographer Roland Petit's exuberant Carmen, a welcome addition to the repertoire.
Petit danced the part of Don Jose in 1949, when his company, Les Ballets de Paris, debuted it; later that year, they performed it in Philadelphia. These days, Petit's Carmen is rarely danced in the United States, but there is a widely available video with Baryshnikov in the male lead.
Those are serious predecessors, but the Pennsylvania Ballet's Sergio Torrado was up to the task. While his Don Jose could have played more to the back rows, it was full of bravura, wit, and not a little violence.
As the sexy, saucy, self-assured Carmen, Riolama Lorenzo was spot-on. Every cock of her shoulder, every swoop of her leg spoke volumes, and she was in control of every move and every scene.
James Idhe, who danced solos in all three ballets presented Thursday, was a witty Escamillo, mimicking Carmen's trademark moves.
The evening opened with Concerto Barocco, which in 1963 was the first of his works that George Balanchine gave to the Pennsylvania Ballet. The company performs it often and beautifully. This time, with Julie Diana, Martha Chamberlain, and Idhe in the principal roles, it was danced with geometrical precision and little emotion - as it looks best.
The program's third element was Matthew Neenan's 2008 Penumbra, a humorous ballroom-esque piece for five dancers, with piano and cello soloists on stage. It was a breath of fresh air.
and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets.