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Flash Review 2, 3-5:
New Points from New Choreographers on Pointe
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2001 Susan Yung
For its eleventh season,
Ballet Builders Saturday presented at Florence Gould Hall a number
of very good works by eight choreographers working in the ballet
lexicon. Directed by founders Ruth Chester and Michael Kraus, the
show comprised psychological studies, technical showcases, and some
ambitiously-scaled works which met with mixed success. The reduced
reliance on technical ballets with large casts was a welcome trend,
as was a move away from strictly balletic work.
Robert Atwood's "A Cinderella
Sweet" led the list of psychologically probing works involving smaller
casts. Wearing a suit, Atwood stood, emblematic of authority and
unspoken power, at an apex of light in which Christine McMillan
gracefully shifted through a number of roles a female might face
-- playful child, acquiescent dance partner -- until she broke down
under the weight of expectations. In "Unforgettable Moment of Being,"
Mana Hashimoto, who is blind, performed a moving, expressionistic
duet with Adriana Jacinto, who wrapped Hashimoto in a cocoon of
white fabric so that we could sense the rough shape of her private
"The Cave," by Davis
Robertson (who danced with Taryn Kaschock and Brian McSween, all
three of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago) employed mid-stage scrims
with backlighting to cast giant silhouettes, to wonderful effect.
With one torso and six arms, they resembled a lobster; as individuals,
with the aid of the setting, even simply separating their raised,
pointed feet they took on dramatic power. They emerged to dance
in front of the scrims, making modern shapes full of angles and
concave torsos. Mucuy Bolles performed her solo, "Antigamente,"
to captivating Portuguese music. Bolles used her sinuous, attenuated,
elastic movement to create a romantic mood piece, implicating us
as voyeurs at the last moment with a darting glance.
The more technical ballets
used larger casts. In "Overtones," Jamey Leverett successfully combined
challenging technique, excellently performed by her sharp dancers,
with a bright emotiveness that blended the traditional with the
contemporary. Leverett is formerly of Rochester City Ballet, and
dancers Erin Bellis, Alexandra Johnson, Yoshi Kobayashi, Sara Lane,
Natalia Mallety-Mastin, Hill Marlow, Hillian Nealon, and Jessica
Tretter are members of that company. In contrast, Elie Lazar's "Suite
Fragments" immediately felt anachronistic. The fairy princess costumes
-- white, knee length tutus and tiaras -- merely set up the audience's
high (or other) expectations, never to be approached by the choreography.
The steps were overly simplistic for the corps sections, while the
partnering sections were exercises in crisis management. Dancers
were Ivanova Aguilar, Monica Arroyo de la Vega, Justin Koertgen,
Tina Lee, Atsuko Minoaur, Juliana Scarpelli, and Rachel Sullivan,
of the Joffrey Ensemble Dancers.
The program closed with
two pieces modelled more along the lines of contemporary modern
dance rather than those familiar in ballet. "Blue," by Andrew Giday,
was an entertaining, funny, four-part work to bluesy music played
by the Kronos Quartet. It featured Daniel Alvarez, Aya Belsheim,
Marie-Eve Lapointe, and Caroline Sicard as a big, hip-swivelling
creature; they moved swiftly through other team-dependent poses,
catching one another's weight or lifting one dancer. A duet was
performed by Alvarez with Belsheim carving repeated circles around
him, like a small bird tethered to a tree. "Blue" showed Giday's
ingenuity and light-hearted touch, and his dancers exuded a matching
confidence and pleasure.
"Raga," by Brian Simerson,
ended the evening. A manically-paced ensemble work to music by Ravi
Shankar and Philip Glass, the work contained twice as many steps
as the dancers could capably execute. This excess of energy and
wasted movement was disappointing after a largely entertaining program.
Performers were Dominic Hodal, Adriana Jacinto, Summer Lindsey,
Steven Marshall, Kara Oculato, Sara Scully, and Simerson.
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